While more of us are likely to be travelling during this time, there is unfortunately an increased risk of road accidents. File image: IOL
What keeps South Africans going during the tiring last months of the year is the prospect of the December holiday and the opportunity to get away.

But because more of us are likely to be travelling during this time, there is unfortunately an increased risk of road accidents.

According to the Road Traffic Management Corporation, more than 14000 people died on South Africa's roads in 2017, and more than 1500 over the 2017/2018 festive season alone.

We don't like to think about the possibility of being in an accident, but the reality is that the risk of road accidents rises during holiday periods when traffic volumes increase. With this in mind, you need to ensure that you are adequately covered and, importantly, that your premium payments are up to date or you may find yourself under-insured and at risk during this festive season.

So when finalising your arrangements for the holiday period, consider updating your existing cover or taking out cover if you don't already have the necessary insurance. Adequate financial protection in the event of death or disability resulting from a car accident will give you peace of mind, knowing you and your loved ones will be taken care of financially.

With current South African law, the Road Accident Fund Act limits the liability of the fund in certain circumstances. The onus is increasingly on individuals to obtain sufficient personal accident disability cover.

Apart from insuring your car against accidents, you also need to cover yourself for potential lifestyle-changing events.

While medical schemes provide help in meeting the medical costs associated with accidents, paying for post-event needs is a whole different ball game.

In 2017, Old Mutual paid out R412m in disability cover, underscoring the very real need for adequate protection. “If injured in an accident, it could result in you being unable to work for extended periods, which may leave you without an income.

Disability cover can replace your income in these situations to ensure you are still able to meet your financial obligations. In addition, it may also help with extra expenses associated with recovery, such as rehabilitation costs, specialist treatment fees and meeting potential medical aid shortfalls. Safeguarding your earning ability gives you peace of mind.

Life cover is crucial to ensure that your loved ones are taken care of in the event of your death. Accidental death accounted for 22percent of all death claims Old Mutual received in 2017.

Tips when selecting cover

* Consider all your options and compare the various offerings. The cover with the lowest monthly premiums may not necessarily be the best option for you. Cheaper cover may mean fewer risks are covered and fewer benefits provided.

* Read the fine print when taking out cover to ensure that you know exactly what you're paying for. Although the cheapest option may initially be the most affordable, it may have a higher premium escalation rate and become the more expensive option later on.

* Check the payout percentages of the company you want to be insured with. Certain insurers may offer cheaper premiums, but have a very low payout percentage. Find a company that does not look for reasons not to pay.

* Bear in mind that companies that reward you for staying on track, covering your financial needs and practising responsible financial behaviours can help you stick to your plan.

Decide whether you would prefer to have a 100percent payout when you claim or a percentage based on the severity of your situation. Some life insurers offer tiered payments according to “Whole Person Impairment” tables.

Kerissa Naidoo is the Chief Medical Officer at Old Mutual.