There are some things we wish we’d been taught in school. How to do taxes. What forms to fill in for that all-important home loan. And what to expect from car insurance.
With so many insurance companies throwing around big words and seemingly important terminology - not to mention those pesky ‘Ts & Cs’ - it can be a confusing experience to take up comprehensive insurance. What am I covered for? What am I not covered for?
Comprehensive car insurance gives the impression of having you covered for everything - accidents, theft, storms - but as the old adage goes: rather be safe than sorry. Not all comprehensive car insurance policies are created equal and it’s important to know what to look for before signing on the dotted line.
So here it is: the ultimate checklist to make sure you’re getting the comprehensive cover you want.
1) Get a simple flat excess
You can expect to pay a part of the cost for almost all car insurance claims. This is called the excess or deductible. So make sure you choose an excess that you’ll be able to cover without needing to run off to the bank for a loan.
Some insurance companies, however, think they should be able to change your excess amount based on circumstance. Surely you’d be able to afford a higher excess if you’re driving after 10pm at night, or if you let someone under 25 drive your car occasionally, or if it’s the first 6 months of your policy, right? The bottom line: make sure your excess is a simple, flat amount without any sneaky clauses.
2) Make sure your cover protects you for both write-offs and smaller accidents
Whether it’s a head-on collision or a bumper bashing, you want to know that you’ll be covered. What’s the point of “comprehensive” cover that only provides cover for write-off accidents, leaving you with huge bills for smaller bumps and bashes?
When signing up for comprehensive insurance, look out for any indication that your level of cover for smaller damage depends on how long you’ve had the policy. Agreeing to this will obviously put you at major risk if you have an accident early on in your policy.
3) Get covered for hail
Hail storms are a reality in South Africa and can do serious, golf-ball-sized damage to your car. It’s incredibly important to make sure that hail cover is included in the comprehensive cover you’re looking at.
4) Check if you’re getting Retail, Market or Trade value
If your car is stolen or written off, you need to know what value your comprehensive insurance will give you. Retail value is the cost to buy your car at a dealership - meaning that if your car were written off, you would be able to replace it with a similar one. Market value and Trade value, however, are lower than Retail, which may require you to downgrade.
5) Get enough third-party liability cover
If you’re involved in an accident where someone else’s car or house is damaged, you could be sued to repay that damage. Third-party liability is there to cover that cost. But it’s up to you to make sure it covers enough.
If you drive into an expensive car, like a R5 million Ferrari, you would not have enough cover if your insurer only offers liability protection up to R1 million. Make sure the third-party liability cover offered by your comprehensive car insurance is enough.
6) Get driver flexibility
Imagine having to get hold of your insurer every time someone else drives your car. Not particularly practical, right? Most policies these days allow others to drive the car with permission, but not all insurers seem to follow this logic. Make sure this isn’t the case with your comprehensive car insurance. Also look out for additional excesses that could be charged when another driver is behind the wheel in the event of an accident.
7) Check the total costs you’ll be paying for your insurance
It’s simple: make sure the amount you agree on is the amount you’re paying for your comprehensive car insurance. Look out for surprise costs, including:
- Initiation fees: a once-off amount charged by some insurers that covers the initial cost of setting up your account and sending you the paperwork. We know printing can be costly, but really?
- Monthly admin or intermediary fee: Small amounts charged every month, paid either to the insurer or to a third-party administrator.
- Fees for services like vehicle inspection or fitment of vehicle tracking devices.
If you’ve agreed to an amount, make sure that’s all you’re paying.
Most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Any insurance company worth their salt will give you a straight and direct answer to any and all of your questions.
We know it may seem a bit overwhelming, but not to worry! We built Naked Insurance to make sure that our comprehensive car insurance is truly comprehensive. And we’ve ticked all the boxes, so you don’t have to.