Gauteng Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  12 Aug 2011

INSURANCE: Why Does It Matter Who the Regular Driver Of My Car Is?


Recent Gauteng Business News

If you’ve ever shopped around for insurance quotes for your car, MiWay CEO René Otto says, you’ll know that one of the first questions you get asked is, “Who is the regular driver of this car?” Why should this matter? And how does your answer affect your insurance cover?

What does “regular driver” mean?
Insurers view the regular driver of your car as the person who drives it most often. This can be tricky if your family has one car that is shared between spouses or between a parent and child, but it should almost always be clear who drives the car. If you’re in any doubt, mention this to the insurer all the drivers that might use your car on a regular basis.

How the regular driver affects premiums
Premiums are calculated according to the size of the risk you potentially pose – based on the underwriter’s experience of individuals with a similar profile. For example, people who have had their drivers licenses for less than a year are more likely to become involved in an accident than people who have been driving for 20 years; and some cars are more likely to be stolen than others. It makes sense that the bigger the chance is that your insurer will have to pay out, the bigger the premium should be.

Factors like age, gender, marital status and previous insurance history are some of the factors that are taken into account when the risk is assessed. So you can see that depending on who the regular driver of your car is, you may be quoted a different premium.

What happens if I name the wrong regular driver?
Because each premium is individually calculated – for example, younger drivers usually pay higher premiums than their parents (and consumers are aware of this) – people are sometimes tempted to be economical with the truth. For example a father might claim to be the regular driver of a car that he’s actually buying for his teenage son, to avoid paying a higher premium.

But this is what your granny might call “penny wise, pound foolish”: By saving a few rands a month on your premium, you face the risk of having your whole claim rejected if the car is involved in an accident. The insurer will always check the regular driver as part of the claims assessment process – if they discover that you’ve not been honest, they might refuse to pay out. You could also face higher premiums in future.

Does this mean I can’t ever let another person drive my car?
It’s perfectly normal that sometimes you might want to let your spouse, child or friend drive your car. If your car is involved in an accident while someone else is driving, your insurer most likely will still cover you – provided of course the correct regular driver is noted, the driver was driving legally and the policy conditions where adhered to! You may have to pay an additional excess, depending on the terms of your policy, but you will be covered. Check with your insurer or your policy document to be 100% sure!

Full disclosure is always the best strategy
The bottom line - Always be honest. If your student son or daughter is going to be the regular driver of the car, being honest about this has two benefits: One, your claims won’t be rejected. Two, your child will have an opportunity to build up an insurance history that will stand them in good stead when they want to take out insurance in their own right in future.

Remember to update your policy
Things change and you should make sure to update your cover to reflect changes in your lifestyle and assets. If you’re going to be away for a couple of months and someone else will be using your car in that period, or you moved to a new address or changed jobs (so your day time parking changed), let your insurer know. And if you pass the car on to someone else in your household, don’t forget to change the details of the regular driver.

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