Many South Africans don’t have car insurance, even if they regularly use the roads. Given the perceived expense, this seems reasonable – until they are involved in an accident. We take a look at the stats and consider the consequences of not being insured. In light of this, we also consider the role of the Road Accident Fund.
Most South Africans are uninsured
In many countries’ car insurance is compulsory. Unfortunately, this is not the case in South Africa. Out of an estimated 12 million cars on South African roads, the Automobile Association estimates that between 65 and 70 percent are uninsured.
This is, of course, an alarming statistic considering the number of accidents, hijackings, and thefts that take place daily, placing these motorists, and their fellow road users, at exceptional financial risk.
What are the consequences of being uninsured?
If someone who is uninsured is involved in an accident, they will, unfortunately, have to cover the cost of repairing the vehicle from their own pocket. If the vehicle is too badly damaged to be repaired and the purchase of the vehicle was being funded through vehicle financing, the owner will still have to pay the repayments, even if the car cannot be used.
Depending on how the accident occurred, the uninsured person may also be liable for damages caused to another vehicle involved in the accident, or non-moveable property such as a wall that they collided with. Clearly, the consequences of going without insurance can be far-reaching and financially devastating.
What role does the Road Accident Fund play?
The South African Road Accident Fund (RAF) is a state insurer established by statute. It provides insurance cover to all drivers of motor vehicles in South Africa in respect of liability incurred or damage caused as a result of a traffic collision.
The RAF is there to assist in claiming for physical injuries a person may suffer as a result of a vehicle accident, but damages suffered as a result of the accident to an uninsured vehicle or property are not covered by this fund.
Should you insure your car?
Chris Steyn, head of MiWay Blink, says that car insurance is a must-have, not a nice-to-have.
“Let me put it this way: if you are not insured and someone else causes the accident, you can lodge a claim with their insurer, or follow the legal process. But both these processes could take a very long time to settle,” says Steyn.
“Having that all-important insurance in place will mean that your insurer will cover your damages, as well as that of the other party, should you be at fault, rather than the costs sitting squarely on your own shoulders.
“Failure to insure can result in untold financial and emotional stress,” Steyn cautions.
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