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June 2, 2022

Are ‘portable possessions’ that are taken on the road covered by car insurance?

Bertus Visser, Chief Executive of Distribution at PSG Insure

Here’s what you need to know

It has been reported that up to 70% of South African motorists do not have car insurance, which is an alarming statistic in and of itself. There is, however, another dimension of risk that needs to be considered, which concerns the 30% of motorists who are insured against accidents and damage. This risk involves insured individuals who do not have a full and clear understanding of what their policies cover. 

Bertus Visser, Chief Executive of PSG Insure Distribution explains that when taking out car insurance, clients may be solely focused on the obvious risk of being involved in a car accident. However, SA is also plagued by a high incidence of theft from cars, including 120 000 smash-and-grab incidents per year and the staggering rise of remote jamming. This means car owners should also consider how to protect themselves should they suffer a financial loss as the result of a theft from a car. 

Visser expands: “The value of items that can be transported (and even left in a car) can quickly add up. Examples include mobile phones, laptops, cameras, jewellery, wallets, sunglasses and items of clothing. In the event that you are the victim of a smash and grab or if these items are stolen from a vehicle, the damage to the vehicle will be covered under a comprehensive insurance policy. However, the items will not. For these kinds of ’portable‘ assets, the best risk protection option is to consider all risk cover. This kind of cover is typically offered as an add-on to your home owners and contents insurance policy.”

Some home contents policies include a basic level of all risk cover. Unspecified all risk provides broad cover for general items such as those in a handbag or a gym bag. 

Visser advises that: “Depending on the insurer, there may be a maximum value that is covered in each case, and it’s important that you are clear on what these thresholds are since it may not be enough to cover the full extent of damages. Increasing the insured value under the all risk section on your household policy may be a partial solution, but in all cases, high value assets like wedding rings, laptops, cell phones, tablets and professional cameras need to be specified under the all risk section. Conditions for which items should be specified under an all risk policy will differ depending on the insurer so special attention should be paid to this when comparing policies.” 

The premiums for all risk insurance are calculated based on a number of factors that relate to each client’s unique, perceived risk. Ensuring all items in the vehicle are kept out of sight, in either the boot or cubby-hole (when parked and stopped at a traffic light) is a surefire way to prevent incidents like smash and grab. Making sure that the car is properly locked, and even double-checking this, when parked, is also a good way to stop criminals from attempting remote/car jamming.

Other precautions that can be taken to protect car valuables, include installing a safety film on your car windows to increase the strength of the glass and lessen interior visibility and ensuring your car alarm is in good working order by performing regular tests. 

“However, research has shown time and again that being vigilant is the best protection. Where possible, parking in badly lit or remote areas should be avoided and one should always make sure that no one is following when returning to the parked car. Observing these small but crucial habits will greatly assist in the safety of one’s vehicle and the items inside it,” Visser concludes.

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