Insurer rejects client's car claim

Thuli Zungu Consumer Line
Tsatsi Bopape's car was damaged in an accident.
Tsatsi Bopape's car was damaged in an accident.
Image: Supplied

Knowing what you legally need to disclose, will ensure that you are insured and that any claim you might have will be covered in your policy. 

Very few consumers are aware of their obligation with regard to convictions or the need to disclose any criminal conviction or that they are facing a pending court case when signing up.

Though Tsatsi Bopape was subsequently cleared of any wrongdoing, his insurance company Hollard insists that he should have disclosed the fact that he was facing a pending court case.

Tsatsi, 39, of Olievenhoutbosch, said he took car insurance cover in March last year and his car was damaged while being driven by his sister with his permission.

He lodged a claim which was subsequently declined on the grounds that he was arrested in December 2017.

"Though my case was withdrawn prior to taking the car insurance, Hollard said I should have disclosed this."

Bopape said he was found sleeping on the side of the road and the police charged him with drunk driving which was subsequently withdrawn as he was not driving.

He went to obtain a clearance certificate, confirming that there was no conviction for any crime against him after Hollard declined his claim, he said.

Warwick Bloom of Hollard said Bopape's case was still open at the time of his application. He said the policy would not have come into existence if he had disclosed this.

"Had Bopape disclosed that he was facing a pending court case of this particular nature at the time of his application, Hollard would not have issued the policy in the first place," Bloom said.

He said this is why the policy was "voided", i.e. cancelled from inception, as if it had never existed in the first place. This voiding effectively means that no cover was in place in terms of the policy at the time of the accident.

He said Bopape indicated that he understood the importance of the accuracy of his answers, and was given further chance for reflection as to whether everything relevant has been disclosed.

"It should be noted that in the same proposal form, Mr Bopape indicated that he understood the importance of the accuracy of his answers.

"We are really sorry about the accident, and in particular for the injuries sustained by Bopape's sister but... Hollard will not be held liable for the damages to the vehicle," Bloom said.

Bloom said the onus was on the insured to disclose all facts and to be completely honest and transparent at the time of applying for or taking out any insurance, so that they can enjoy the indemnity that insurance was meant to provide.

In order to re-open the claim, Bopape would need to prove that the case was not open at the time of his application, not that he was subsequently cleared.

"Bopape has the option of approaching the Ombud for Short Term Insurance should he remain of the view that our decision is incorrect," Bloom said.

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