Sun Oct 23 03:32:42 SAST 2016

Insurance companies assess realities , writes Isaac Moledi

By unknown | Jun 05, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Certain behavioural patterns, age, lifestyle, personal taste and the changed realities of South Africa's motoring environment have combined to result in higher insurance premiums.

Gari Dombo, managing director of Alexander Forbes Insurance, says traditionally 18 to 20-year-olds were seen as the greatest accident risks.

By 30 most drivers were professionally settled, worked regular hours and had established a safe and familiar routine. Debt levels in this age group were high.

From about 40, vehicles were used more frequently and a lot less predictably. Accidents increased, says Dombo.

He says further into their 40s and 50s, accident frequencies rose even further as children started driving and began using their parents' cars.

After 60, the children were out of the house and accident rates fell sharply.

Dombo says: "In short, age correlated with driving experience and premiums were easily calculated."

But these traditional and predictable patterns were altered after the 1994 political changes and more recently, black economic empowerment.

Dombo says: "Now there are a lot of 40-year-olds with a year-old drivers' licence.

"In short, there are a lot more older, inexperienced drivers on the road. This reality is a factor to consider when calculating premiums."

The way cars have changed has also influenced premiums.

"There is a bigger concentration of value around small cosmetic issues that frequently go wrong and are expensive to fix."

Dombo says expensive radios, air-conditioners, leather seats, airbags and sensors all cost a lot more money.

"These items can be damaged and require repairs or replacing. Vehicle accessory choices also push up premiums."

He says that most payouts are for smaller bumper-bashing accidents since very few cars are ever written-off and need to be replaced completely.

"Since a small R120000 run-around vehicle now comes with air bags, and replacing a popped air bag could cost R25000, covering a small incident like this can amount to 20percent of the value of the vehicle."

This, he says, will inevitably be reflected in the premium.

Dombo says if you have an accident that is not your fault and the guilty party is not insured, your insurer has to pay.

"It is estimated that as many as 60 percent of vehicles are not insured, so insurance companies know their chances of recouping payouts from third parties are statistically slim. Again, this changed reality is reflected in higher premiums."

While more vehicles on the road is ostensibly good for insurance companies, Dombo says more cars and new drivers, without parallel improvements in infrastructure, resulted in more accidents.

He says older vehicles were often stolen for parts. The older certain cars get, the more expensive it could be to insure them.

"The depreciating value of your car as it ages is often camouflaged by these other factors, which also drive up premiums up," Dombo says.


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