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Don't just dump your car insurance

Two motorists are frantic on their phones after a crash.
Two motorists are frantic on their phones after a crash.
Image: 123RF

With the petrol price having increased by a whopping 82c a litre, you might be flirting with the idea of cancelling your vehicle insurance.

Don't do it. Driving a car that's not insured is like "playing Russian roulette with your finances", experts warn.

Hannes van Rensburg, a member of the Short-term Insurance Committee of the Actuarial Society of South Africa, says cancelling your insurance is a quick-fix that comes with enormous risks.

Most cars - two-thirds of all cars - on South African roads are uninsured, which means that the chances are very high that a crash on the road will involve at least one uninsured vehicle.

"Given the current levels of accidents on our roads, insured motorists make an insurance claim every three to five years on average."

If both parties are insured, neither party has to pay anything except for the excess, which is the agreed amount you pay your insurer as a contribution towards the repairs in the event of a claim.

But when you are uninsured and you cause irreparable damage to a luxury vehicle or other property worth millions, you could literally lose everything you own, including your house, Van Rensburg cautions.

He says several countries including the US, UK, Norway, Indonesia and Germany have made comprehensive vehicle insurance compulsory by law - to protect all parties against the adverse financial impact of a motor vehicle accident.

Christelle Colman, spokesperson for Old Mutual Insure, says instead of skimping on the maintenance of your vehicle, try to renegotiate your premiums with your insurer. "The market is very competitive and if you've been a good client, you may be able to save a few hundred rand on your premium. You could also try shopping around for a better premium."

If you can't find an insurer to beat your premium, you could ask your insurer to reduce your premium.

How to reduce your insurance premiums

If you're battling to pay the premiums on your car insurance, instead of cancelling your cover, try to pay less by following these tips from Hannes van Rensburg, a member of the short-term insurance committee of the Actuarial Society of SA:

Make sure that the insurance premium for your vehicle is adjusted annually to allow for depreciation. As the value of your car reduces, so should your premium.

Insurers aim to reward good driving behaviour, such as not driving at night, so find out whether your policy and premium adequately reflects your personal circumstances.

You could opt for a higher excess amount, which will reduce your monthly premium. In the case of a claim, you would be expected to pay this higher amount, but at least you will not be liable for the full cost of the damages to both vehicles.

Only claim if it is really necessary. The more you claim the higher your premium.

Expensive cars are expensive to insure. If you are struggling to make ends meet, buy a basic car that is fuel efficient.

Read (carefully) your policy document and make sure you know exactly what you are covered for.

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