I think it’s fair to say that insurance is a progressive experience that only gets more fraught as you get older.
Back in Varsity, I almost never thought about insurance. It was something my parents had to worry about while I spent four wonderful years in blissful, insurance-free ignorance.
But then you grow up, get a degree, find a job and buy a car or house, and suddenly your phone doesn’t stop ringing thanks to all the people out there making cold calls, trying to sell you some type of insurance.
Fortunately my outlook has changed over the years. Back in my varsity days, insurance was something Chris Rock made fun of in his stand-up routines. He used to ridicule it, calling for insurance companies to change the names of insurance policies to in-case-stuff-happens policies. He didn’t use the word “stuff”, but you know what I mean.
It’s easy to mock the concept of insurance if you haven’t needed it yet. You can keep on telling yourself that you don’t want to pay all that money “just in case stuff happens”, right up to the point when stuff does actually happen. When it comes to the roads, for instance, I believe insurance should be made compulsory.
I’m not the only one who thinks so. The folks over at www.hippo.co.za recently sent out a mailer calling for compulsory car insurance. According these purveyors of insurance policies, car insurance is still seen as an unnecessary expense which many consider a “grudge purchase”.
These people often realise its importance only when they have to face the cost of vehicle damage, medical expenses and liabilities to other parties involved in an accident.
Obviously the cost of a policy depends on what kind of insurance you go for, but if you choose the cheapest option you might find yourself in the same situation as someone who has no insurance at all. There are policies tailored to cover minor dents and scratches, or third party claims only. Both these options leave you vulnerable to a situation where there is a lot of damage you will have to pay for from your own pocket.
You can get third party, fire and theft insurance, which covers most of the problems a vehicle owner will encounter. The big one is obviously theft cover, which is a must in SA. Prying eyes are everywhere, and nothing hurts more than paying for a car when there isn’t one any more. The only thing missing from this kind of policy is accidental damage to the car.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I’d be willing to risk it. The quality of driving in SA is definitely not what it should be, which basically means that you’re gambling with thousands of rands every time you get into an uninsured car.
Even in a best-case scenario, you’re still looking at a hefty panel-beating bill. Costs escalate very quickly in the vehicle repair industry. And the chances are that the guy who runs into you will not be insured. Before you know it, you’ll be forking out R15 000 for some minor cosmetic damage and another R5000 for the costs of towing.
That’s why it’s best to go with comprehensive cover. It’s by far the most expensive option, but it’s the only way of ensuring that you don’t have to declare bankruptcy if something unfortunate like a major accident or a hijacking were to happen. Being involved in something like this is stressful enough without having to worry about the monetary costs.