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Insurer rejects customer's claim due to risky tyres

Samuel Kasambara’s wrecked vehicle, which resulted in it being written off.
Samuel Kasambara’s wrecked vehicle, which resulted in it being written off.
Image: Supplied

An insurance company has rejected a motorist’s accident claim because his car had been fitted with stretched tyres, which could have contributed to the accident.

Samuel Kasambara was involved in a single-car accident in Middleburg, Mpumalanga, in January.

His Datsun Go Five had a tyre burst, which caused the car to overturn in the middle of the road. The damage to the vehicle was severe and it had to be towed away. It was a write off. 

Adding to his headache of not having car, Kasambara’s accident claim was rejected by his insurer Dial Direct after a post-accident inspection of his vehicle, which found that all his tyres were stretched, making his car unroadworthy before the incident.

Stretched tyres have a width smaller than mounted rims and driving on these wheels, though may look cool to some, is considered risky by insurers.  

Kasambara disputed the repudiation of his claim, arguing that he had never made any changes to the car since he bought it “brand new” in December 2020.

Samuel Kasambara and his new car.
Samuel Kasambara and his new car.
Image: Supplied

He says the insurer should have realised his wheels were unroadworthy when they did the car inspection before approving his insurance application.

He has been paying a monthly premium of R877 since he took out the comprehensive insurance in 2020. 

Kasambara escalated the matter to the office of the Short-term Insurance Ombudsman (OSTI) but his case was dismissed on the basis that he had breached the contract by using an unroadworthy vehicle. 

Jolene Chait from Dial Direct told Sowetan Consumer last week that the pre-insurance inspection they performed on Kasambara’s vehicle was purely to confirm the car’s existence.

“It is not a roadworthy assessment. Poorly maintained tyres and rims are a leading cause of car accidents in SA. We urge motorists to get into the habit of regular inspections, tyre and rim maintenance, and making well-informed decisions when purchasing tyres. 

“As per our report to the OSTI, the tyres were considered unroadworthy. All four tyres were identified as “stretched tyres”, which refers to a tyre with a width smaller than its mounted rim. The risks of stretched tyres are numerous, and in this case, it was found that they contributed to the accident,” says Chait. 

The inspector who studied the tyres after the accident observed that the front tyres were 195cm in size but overstretched to fit a 223cm rim width.

Samuel Kasambara Datsun before the accident, which resulted in the vehicle being written off.
Samuel Kasambara Datsun before the accident, which resulted in the vehicle being written off.
Image: Supplied

“When tyres are stretched over the rims, the beads are not seated properly and it causes the sidewalls to operate at an angle they were not designed to operate at, causing them to flex excessively. This negatively affects the tyre’s sidewall deflection and how the tyre reacts to radial and lateral forces, causing the tyre to no longer react and perform as it is supposed to.

“Tyre stretching reduces tyre durability and can cause irregular tread wear, and poor tyre seal, resulting in the tyre deflating, curbing or damaging the rim (as it has less protection) and increased risks of blowouts or the tyre climbing off of the rim,” says the inspector in his report.

The inspector concluded that all four tyres were overstretched and could have contributed to the accident though it happened on a dry tarmac.

“The left rear tyre failed due to the tyre being stretched and being operated in an improperly inflated condition over a period of time, which caused the tyre to fail and the driver to lose control of the vehicle,” concluded the report.

Kasambara is not pursuing the matter further.


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