Victus Group

The growing problem of uninsured drivers

Jun 2021

If you are involved in a road accident in South Africa, the probability that the other vehicle will be uninsured is extremely high.

A recent study found that South Africa has among the most dangerous roads in the world and that, of the approximately 12million cars on our roads, only about a third are insured. The problem with this is that, if your vehicle is insured, the financial burden is being passed to you through higher premiums. This is because insured drivers are being forced to subsidise those who are not covered.

The other inconvenient truth is that having to claim from your insurance company due to someone else’s negligence will have a negative influence on your claim record. Insurance providers have warned that it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep vehicle insurance affordable because the burden is not being shared equally between road users.

It is standard practice around the globe that obtaining insurance is a mandatory part of every vehicle purchase. This is, however, not the case in South Africa. The argument could well be made that if someone cannot afford to pay for vehicle insurance, they should not be allowed to drive, as it means that other road users are being subjected to an increased risk of financial loss.

Third-party insurance, which covers physical injury and damage to motor vehicles in the case of an accident, was compulsory in South Africa from 1942 up until 1997, when it was replaced by the Road Accident Fund (RAF). While the RAF compensates road users for injuries sustained in an accident, it does not cover damage to the vehicles involved. Until such time as compulsory third-party vehicle insurance is re-instated in South Africa, insurance providers must initiate recovery on behalf of policyholders.

If you do find yourself in the unfortunate situation of being involved in a motor vehicle accident, follow the following guidelines:

  • Stop, switch on your hazards to warn other vehicles and climb out of your vehicle if it is safe to do so.
  • Check to see if anyone is injured and call emergency services if this is the case – do not attempt to administer emergency medical care unless you are qualified to do so.
  • If there are no injuries, and you are able, move your vehicle out of the way to ease traffic congestion. Remember to take pictures of the accident scene, the vehicles involved, and the damage caused, prior to moving the vehicles.
  • Report the accident to the police so that a case number can be issued; you will need to supply this number to your insurer.
  • Obtain as much information as possible at the scene of the accident, including the make, model and colour of the vehicles involved, the details and time of the accident, details of the road surface and general visibility, the details of the other driver’s insurance, if applicable, his/her full names and surname, contact details and ID number. Also ensure that you obtain the details of any witnesses to the accident.
  • While you are on the scene and the information is fresh in your mind, try to do a sketch of the scene, noting the way in which the vehicles involved were travelling, road names, intersections, and traffic lights.
  • Ensure that you are aware of your policy details and any excess that may be applicable. In some cases, it may be worthwhile paying higher monthly instalments than paying expensive excess payments in the event of a claim.

Other important tips to remember in case of a vehicle accident are the following:

  • Do not admit liability.
  • When making statements only provide essential information.
  • Do not sign a written statement without consulting your insurance company or an attorney.
  • Only allow your vehicle to be towed by your insurance provider’s authorised towing service.
  • If you do not have tow cover with your insurance provider, ask the tow truck driver for a quote before your vehicle is towed away.
  • Write down the name, contact details and vehicle registration number of the tow truck driver and find out where your car is being taken.

Being involved in a vehicle accident is never a pleasant experience. Remember to take a moment to collect yourself and to take a few deep breaths to calm yourself before taking any action that you may regret later. Contact your insurance broker as soon as possible after the accident so that he/she can assist you with the insurance claim process.

The information contained in this article is of a general nature and intended for information purposes only. It is neither to be construed as financial advice nor to be regarded as a definitive analysis of any financial, legal or other issue. Individuals must not rely on this information to make a financial or investment decision. Before making any decision, we recommend you consult your financial planner/adviser to take into account your particular investment objectives, financial situation and individual needs.