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When is a write-off not a write-off?

The impact caused the airbags to deploy and her insurers later deemed the low-mileage car to be a write-off.

The impact caused the airbags to deploy and her insurers later deemed the low-mileage car to be a write-off.

Published Oct 14, 2014

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Durban - A few months ago Pat Laughton was driving her Volkswagen Polo through her Mount Edgecombe, KwaZulu-Natal, retirement village at dusk when she was disorientated by a truck's bright lights and hit a chunk of concrete which the builders had left on a shallow island in the middle of the road.

The impact caused the airbags to deploy and her insurers later deemed the low-mileage car to be a write-off, despite Laughton very much wanting to have it repaired.

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On 23 July she received her insurance payout. Two weeks later she received a R1500 speeding fine.

She was annoyed to discover that not only was the fine for the car she no longer owned, but that the "write off" of a car she had so desperately wanted to have repaired had been fined for doing 130km/h on the very day she'd received her insurance pay out.

Responding to Consumer Watch's query, Liz Errington of Roxsure Insurance Brokers said the car was a "technical write-off" - the cost of repairs was more than 70 percent of the value of the car.

"This rule is a general market practice and goes to the business efficacy of the insurance contract."

Roxsure and the insurer (Hollard) had their clients' safety in mind, she said, and thus did not use "alternate" parts for the repair of safety critical parts - only original equipment manufacturer parts were used.

"Self-insured individuals and salvage companies may apply other standards of repair to salvaged vehicles," Errington conceded.

So having been declared a write-off, TransUnion's retail value for that car - R66 300 - was paid in full to Laughton, plus an extra five percent in appreciation of the car's low mileage.

Laughton was welcome to bid for the salvage, but this offer was declined and the car was sold to salvage company Megassist.

So where did that Polo end up? Megassist owner, Issy Solomon, said he had repaired the car with a second-hand dashboard and was using it as a company "runaround" vehicle.

Cape Times

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