Policyholders should be aware that their car insurance claims will be rejected if they fail to comply with a clear stipulations in their policies.
This follows a determination by Noluntu Bam, deputy ombud for financial services providers, in a case between Abrie Burger and Heritage Insurance Brokers in Sandton.
Burger found that several measures he had taken to protect his off-road vehicle, which was parked outside in his yard at night, were not good enough for his insurance company when he submitted a claim for theft of the car.
The insurance company rejected the claim on the basis that the vehicle had not been parked in a locked garage at night, as was required by the policy.
Burger, a sales representative from Sasolburg, complained to the FAIS deputy ombud that he was not aware of the requirement to keep the vehicle in a locked garage since he had not received the policy schedule and policy wording from Heritage Insurance Brokers.
He said on the day of the theft his and his friend's vehicles were chained and locked together and left outside for the night because they had been washed and he had arrived home late that afternoon.
He said there were several dogs on the premises but they had been poisoned during the night of the theft and one died as a result.
Outside the fence there were five ostriches of which three were "very aggressive males". Entry to the yard by the burglars was gained by breaking or cutting off the lock on the gate.
The issue for Bam was to determine whether the broker was negligent in not making Burger aware of the condition of insurance.
During investigations it was found that Burger had stated in his own handwriting on a proposal form dated February 24 2005 that the vehicle would be kept in a locked garage at night.
The broker said a letter dated March 2 2005, accompanied by the policy schedule and wording, was sent to Burger shortly after its inception.
According to Bam when a car is financed the credit supplier requires insurance cover to protect its interests. The insurer, on the other hand, seeks to minimise its exposure to the risk materialising.
Bam said under the circumstances it could not be said that the complainant was unaware of the relevant condition that was breached and which led to the rejection of the claim, even assuming the complainant had not received the policy schedule and wording as he alleged.
He said if an insurance policy stipulates a vehicle must be kept in a locked garage at night, not even chaining the insured vehicle, several dogs, a locked gate and aggressive male ostriches could substitute as suitable security measures.