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Motor Accident & Safety
Thursday, January 1, 2009
Don’t leave home without it

We are fast approaching the time of year when South Africans from all over the country will be packing their bags and getting ready to go on a well deserved holiday. The safety on our roads has been improving incrementally every year, however the number of accidents on our roads is still alarmingly high.

“A shocking 79% of cars on South African roads are not insured,” comments Debra Roussouw, spokesperson for Zurich Insurance Company South Africa. “The main reason is that people are unaware of the massive risk that they are exposing themselves to. Car insurance in South Africa is still seen as a grudge purchase, whereas in most first world countries it is compulsory to take out motor insurance due to the high risk factors.” South Africa’s road accident statistics are a great deal worse than most countries around the world yet fewer vehicles are insured.

The table above gives a brief overview of the number of fatal accidents, deaths and cost of these accidents. In Australia for example, where insurance is compulsory, there were a total of 1 466 deaths on their roads. This means that there were 7.7 deaths per 100 000 people as compared to South Africa’s 36.4 deaths per 100 000. This represents a 13% decrease in the number of deaths per 100 000 population from last year. So our roads are becoming safer. Even though the number of vehicles on our roads has increased there have been fewer fatalities.
An accident is a very traumatic experience, whether it is a bumper bashing or a head on collision. Knowing what to do in these situations is essential to ensuring that your claim is paid out timeously and in full.
Not that everyone on the roads during this busy time will experience an accident but it is always best to be prepared in case of an emergency. There would be nothing worse than experiencing a serious accident and then having to deal with a massive financial burden as well.
Here are some helpful pointers when you are in an accident but do have insurance:
• Stop the car
• Switch your hazard lights on
• Check that your passengers have not been injured
• Assist any injured persons
• Assess the situation; be aware of dangers such as leaking petrol, broken glass and oil on the road
• Move the vehicle out of harm’s way and out of the road if it is affecting traffic but mark the spot where the accident took place
• Make the scene safe as you can by placing hazard triangles to warn other drivers
• Take photographs – your cell phone will come in handy here
• If it is safe, get out of the car. If you don’t feel safe stay inside the car
• Keep a fire extinguisher in your car
• Don’t take any liquor or narcotic drug
• Don’t admit responsibility for the accident
• Never leave the scene of an accident until it is appropriate to do so

If you don’t have insurance the list above will still apply, however you will suffer the additional burden if the accident was your fault. It is sometimes very difficult to prove who was at fault and in certain cases it is likely that a court case may be the only option. At the same time, having to rent or buy a new vehicle is also costly, however some insurance companies do provide a rental car for a period of time.
If the other party has insurance and you don’t, you may find yourself in a court battle with an organisation that has immense resources at its disposal.
“It is important to speak to a broker to ask for advice on which is the most affordable insurance for your vehicle. The risk exposure when not covered by insurance is too great not to be a priority in people’s lives,” concludes Roussouw

Copyright © Insurance Times and Investments® Vol:22.1 1st January, 2009
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