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Motor Insurance
Tuesday, May 1, 2007
Avoid a backfire

According to the latest statistics no less than 17 014 motor vehicles were stolen last year. And while this emphasises the importance of adequate insurance, it also begs the question as to where these cars end up, and who buys them?

Caroline da Silva, Head of Portfolio Management at Santam, points out that even if you are ‘adequately insured’ this would count for nothing if your stolen, or written off vehicle had in fact been stolen before, and you had bought it on the second-hand car market without properly checking the documentation.
“By conducting some simple background checks prior to purchase you can ensure that you aren’t left out-of-pocket,” she says. The high numbers of stolen vehicles obviously increases the chance of you buying one, whether through a dealer or not.
“A reputable car dealer will of course go to great lengths to ensure the cars they sell are fit for purchase in every respect. However not all car dealers are reputable, and the private sale of vehicles leaves a wide gap for criminals to get in on the act.
Da Silva offers some simple background checks that can put your mind at ease. “By calling your local police station with the registration number, engine and chassis number – which all appear on the car’s licence disk – you will quickly and easily be able to establish if the car you are planning to buy is stolen.
“Should the chassis and engine number not correspond, for example, it may indicate the car was involved in a major accident, or again, that it had been tampered with and contains stolen parts – in which case, following investigation, the car would be seized by the police.
“Another peril to be aware of is that many second hand cars have outstanding finance which, if you purchase one, you may be liable to pay for. So it is crucial to ensure you have proof from the seller that all amounts owing have been settled before purchase.”
One can always call the car owner’s finance company directly if the proof provided looks suspect, she adds.
“Ultimately, there is a strong case for legislation to make every seller prove the car they are selling is fit for sale but, until such time, these simple checks will help ensure your second hand car purchase doesn’t backfire.”

Copyright © Insurance Times and Investments® Vol:20.4 1st May, 2007
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