Never neglect the tyres on your vehicle because not only will you endanger yourself, your passengers and other road users, but you could also lose your insurance claim in the event of an accident.
Your insurance company might not settle a claim if your vehicle's tyres are smooth, as Poppy Nxumalo of Soweto found out after an accident in June.
Had she not kept her receipt as proof that she fitted her car with new tyres three weeks before the accident, the insurance company might have rejected her claim.
Nxumalo will sleep like a baby because her insurance will settle her claim - after Consumer Line took up the matter with Louis Meyer of Budget Insurance.
The company decided to honour Nxumalo's claim because only one of the four tyres was smooth.
But Nxumalo still has problems with the tow truck operator.
On the day of the accident, before she was taken to hospital, a driver from South Side Towing conned her.
She said she told the driver not to tow her vehicle before Budget had authorised it. The driver pretended to be talking to her insurer, then gave his cellphone to her so that "Budget could give me a reference number".
But when she was discharged from hospital two weeks later and called her insurance to enquire about her claim, they had no knowledge of IT and said a reference number was never issued.
When the insurance company finally removed her car from the towing company, Nxumalo was billed for R10000 for towing and storing. Budget paid R3378 and she is expected to pay the balance.
At first the insurance company repudiated the claim, saying alcohol had been found in the car. Nxumalo said she was shocked and had no idea how the alcohol got there.
Consumer Line took up the matter and after an investigation lasting a week Budget agreed to settle the claim - apart from the storage fee.
Meyer said they were aware that certain towing operators convinced accident victims that "they are authorised to tow cars on our behalf".
He said his company gives all its clients towline stickers to stick on their car windows to prevent all towing companies, except those approved by Budget Insurance, from towing vehicles away.
"These stickers bear a phone number that must be called to arrange for an authorised tow," Meyer said.
He said though Nxumalo did not follow the proper procedure with the towing of her car, Budget paid what it believed to be a reasonable towing cost, which is R3378.
Meyer said: "Regarding the rejection of the claim, after considering all the facts brought forward by the claims consultant, a decision was made that the one smooth tyre was not relevant to the accident.
"As for the fact that liquor was found and also possibly consumed in the car, there was no proof that the driver of the vehicle had consumed any alcohol.
"So we recommended that the claim be settled."
As for her towing problems, Nxumalo has approached the South African Towing and Recovery Association (Satra).
She has asked the organisation to recover the R8000 she was forced to pay South Side before they would release her car.
She explained that she had no choice but to sign because the company had threatened to sell her car to defray costs - despite towing it away under false pretences.