Gauteng Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  17 Dec 2010

INSURANCE: Going to Pothole


Recent Gauteng Business News

Short-term insurance leader, Santam, reports a significant increase in the number of claims caused by deteriorating road conditions. It advises motorists to use national roads as much as possible and to avoid alternate routes, especially when driving long distance

“Pothole damage to a business or private vehicle,” says Louise Pharo, Head of Commercial Business at Santam, “does not begin and end with an insurance claim. It has far-reaching and significant implications for the wider cost of insurance; insurance excess; additional expenses such as car hire and towing costs. Moreover, the inconvenience factor for motorists is significant, and pothole related accidents can cause serious injury and death.”

Moreover, road conditions impact directly on the lifespan of vehicles. Uneven, corrugated, potholed roads, over time, damage suspension, shock absorbers, tyres and wheel alignment. Braking to avoid potholes, then accelerating again wastes fuel and punishes brake pads and clutches. There is no insurance for these exacerbated vehicle wear and tear conditions and their associated expense.

The South African Automobile Association estimates that about 60 percent of South Africa’s roads are potholed or in poor condition. This means that for every 100 kilometres you drive in South Africa, about 60 of those kilometers will be on a road in need of repair and on a road that could potentially break your car.

Bad road conditions not only impact private motorists. They have far-reaching effects on the broader economy, on business profitability and on the ultimate cost for goods and services, says Louise Pharo, head of Commercial Business at Santam. Consumers ultimately bear the cost of business insurance, of vehicle breakdown and of vehicle maintenance, repair and replacement.

Pharo adds that damaged vehicles often mean significant losses for businesses that then are unable to transport goods or deliver services. This can, and does, lead to job losses and may even lead to insolvency and failure of the business. It’s a risk that’s especially perilous for smaller businesses, she says, emphasising the importance of insuring commercial and business vehicles.

“Let’s take farmers, for example,” she says. “Often goods deteriorate when vehicles break down. The delay of produce to market has far-reaching cost implications. Down-time by drivers adds to the bill and to the frustration.

Louise says it makes sense to adequately insure your vehicle… no matter how carefully you drive and no matter how much you believe you will never be involved in an accident.

Claiming damage from public and national authorities for damage caused by bad road conditions is a long, tedious, cumbersome and often expensive process with no guarantee at all of success. Moreover, if you suffer injury as a result of a pothole-related accident, there’s little chance of recompense from the Road Accident Fund as that fund stipulates that it assists only motor vehicle accident victims either where another vehicle was involved or where the injury was caused in a ‘hit and run’ incident.

“There is very little that road users and other consumers can do to limit the far-reaching effects of bad road conditions and the hazards they create,” says Louise. “However, adequate short-term insurance provides peace of mind and absolute certainty of cover in all events… no matter how carefully you drive and no matter how fervently you believe that pothole damage will never happen to you and your car.”

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