People sometimes have the perception that insurance quotes are declined for ‘no reason’. However, an insurance policy is a contract. The insurer agrees to cover you according to how much risk they think they take on in doing so and set your premium accordingly. When the provisions aren’t met, the contract has effectively been broken and the insurer is exposed to more risk than ‘what your premium covers’ and ‘what was agreed to’. They are then completely within their rights not to cover you – because the contract is not valid anymore. The best course of action is to take care to understand the wording of your policy and to take the stipulations seriously.
There are common pitfalls we see time and time again that result in insurance claims being repudiated, or only partially paid out because the ‘contract’ has been broken. Below are five key examples to avoid…
The regular driver and owner of a vehicle differ on a policy
An example of where this happens, is if a parent is the policyholder of a vehicle that was purchased for their student child who is the regular driver. The parents have an insurable interest in the vehicle as there is a potential for financial loss if anything happens to it. In addition, if the child is not listed as the regular driver, the claim will likely be rejected and it may have an impact on the parents’ insurance risk profile.
Top tip: Update your adviser on the full details of any new vehicle added to a policy, so that appropriate cover can be put in place. Do not assume that simply adding a vehicle to a policy will mean that it is covered.
Vehicle extras weren’t specified
A case in point was when a client put in a claim for a bulbar that was stolen from his bakkie. No extras were noted in his policy and the sum insured was only sufficient to cover the bakkie itself. The claim was therefore rejected.
Top tip: Ensure that all non-factory fitted accessories such as bull bars, sound systems and canopies are specified as additional extras, in addition to the sum insured value of your vehicle. Also keep in mind that you might need cover for mag rims on your tyres, so keep their replacement value in mind – anything you have changed or upgraded compared to the standard vehicle must be noted.
Security specifications weren’t discussed
All too common, this is an issue when claiming for a burglary. If your security features weren’t enabled at the time of the burglary, the claim will likely get rejected.
Top tip: Make sure you ask about any elements of your cover that are your responsibility. If you are covered for having a locked security gate, an active electric fence or burglar bars on your windows, these features need to be in place and in good working order at all times. This will keep both your property and you safe.
You moved but didn’t say anything to your insurer
If you move house and don’t notify your insurer of your new address, any claims at the new premises will be rejected. This might seem like an obvious change to make to your policy but we do experience clients forgetting.
Top tip: Insurers usually require that you give written notice of your new permanent, physical address before you move. This is because your new address means your risk has changed and your premium may also change.
Your replacement cellphone doesn’t match with what you thought was insured
Claiming for a stolen cellphone can be disappointing if your sum insured value is insufficient. All too often we have clients who are not able to buy a ‘top-of-the-range’ cellphone again when theirs is damaged or stolen.
Top tip: Periodically adjust the sum insured cover on your cellphone in line with the market value of the same model.
Speak to your adviser to make sure you are adequately covered at home and on the road. This can help to make sure that any claim you might make goes in your favour, instead of taking the spring out of your step and finances.