The festive season is upon us, and everyone is eagerly looking forward to their much-needed break. It is the “crazy season,” with lots of buying, travelling, partaking in various adventurous activities, etc. An unfortunate reality is that during the festive season, there are lots of insurance related perils that tend to occur – which do not only spoil the festive celebrations but have long term financial effects. Whilst there is no way to guarantee that when any insured risk eventuates insurer will pay out, there are steps that insureds can take in order to enhance their chances of claiming successfully, if and when the need arise. This piece intends to highlight some of the critical insurances policies to look out for; possible threats to those policies together with proposed solutions to the threats.
Different kinds of insurance policies become more relevant than others at different times, depending on various factors that influence the risks. And, at this time of the year, the following insurance policies are worthy of consideration:
- Car insurance policies: at this time, there is a lot of travelling and this usually involves long distances. Risks such as car accidents; theft; hijackings; worn out car parts; etc. increase. It is, accordingly, crucial to have regard to the terms and conditions of car insurance policies. Specific attention must be given to the type of cover (whether it is comprehensive cover or named perils cover); exclusions must also be considered and whether there is a need for extra cover for excluded risks.
- Health and life insurance policies: there is a significant rise in serious and fatal motor vehicle accidents over this time. There is also a rise in criminal activities which may, in the South African context, include extreme eventualities such as death. It is, therefore, necessary to ensure that one’s health and life policies are adhered to, including all the necessary disclosures.
- Travel insurance: this insurance policy is critical for both national and international travel. When travelling, there are many unforeseen unfortunate risks that may materialise including hospitalisation, etc. These risks may have a negative impact on the overall experience of a trip and on one’s budget. As such, it is an important insurance policy.
- House contents: this year South Africa has experienced the most extreme and pertinacious loadshedding. This has resulted in a worrying rise in house contents insurance claims. And, if the latest news reports are anything to go by, this will persist throughout the festive season. With many people travelling and visiting their loved ones, homes will be busier than usual. This may lead to a situation where, for example, some precautionary measures are neglected. Linked to the issue of loadshedding are possibilities of theft (break-ins), especially in those houses that are unoccupied. Thus, theft policies must be carefully considered.
The aforementioned insurance policies are not an exhaustive list of policies that are important during this period. It is also important for insureds to take note of their insurance debit order dates during December. Many insurers tend to bring debit order dates forward during the festive season. It is important to look out for such notifications, so that if the insured is not able to pay on the proposed date, they can communicate this to the insurer and make the necessary arrangements. This is of great legal importance as a failure to do so may result in the lapse of the insurance contract, as a result of which they can find themselves without cover. In some cases, the policy terminates without any notification if a premium payment is missed. Given the administrative burden of attending to all the aforementioned obligations, it may be prudent to make use of an insurance broker. Alternatively, insureds must make time to peruse through their insurance policies and ensure adherence to all the relevant terms and conditions. In an event where their claims are rejected, they should immediately contact insurance legal experts to look into possible avenues to challenge the rejection.