File picture: Matthew Jordaan/African News Agency (ANA)
File picture: Matthew Jordaan/African News Agency (ANA)

0% alcohol for drivers is coming in June - What this means for your insurance

By Nunben Dixon Time of article published Feb 27, 2020

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Transport minister Fikile Mbalula says the 0% legal blood-alcohol limit for South African drivers will be implemented in June 2020 as part of the new Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) Act. Currently, drivers are permitted a concentration of alcohol in the blood of less than 0.05 gram per 100 millilitres.

While there’s some scepticism as to whether the ‘zero tolerance’ act will be enforced on this schedule, there’s no doubt that it will affect motorists’ insurance contracts whenever it is finally introduced.

Proven driving under the influence has always affected premiums and payouts (most insurers refuse claims altogether if the driver was drunk) but you can expect things to get much tighter.

Insurance companies will probably raise premiums significantly for anyone who has any form of drink-driving conviction on their records, or, in some instances, to refuse cover altogether. Their logic will be that, if you failed to comply with a prescribed limit of drinks, then you’re even less likely to obey a ‘no alcohol’ regime.

I expect insurers to implement more stringent ‘lifestyle’ assessments with new qualifying questions to determine the risk profile of clients regarding drinking. Premiums could rise for those who report consistent levels of alcohol consumption. On the other hand, premiums could fall if you can demonstrate that you’re teetotal. And, if you’re tempted to cheat on these kinds of questions in pursuit of a lower premium, remember that any demonstrably false claim that you make during the insurance process can render all your cover invalid.

One role insurers should play is in increasing their information campaigns that could help their clients to comply with the new act. 

Companies should use their existing channels to communicate the implementation and the implications of the new act. Spell it out in plain language without resorting to the kind of insurance legalese that bewilders and intimidates consumers. Give drivers a clear guide as to how long it takes for all alcohol to get out of the system. And issue plenty of reminders.

And I have no doubt insurers will enhance their partnerships with take-me-home services and taxi apps especially during the holiday seasons. Special deals in this context will incentivise the kind of healthy driving behaviour we all want to see.

PERSONAL FINANCE 

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