POTHOLE SAFETY & IMPLICATIONS FOR YOUR CAR INSURANCE
Potholes – the dreaded enemy of every South African vehicle owner.
Here’s a scenario local drivers know all too well:
You’re driving home after some particularly heavy rainfall and you spot a massive gaping pothole but it’s simply too late to avoid it or slow down. Everyone in the car flinches as you hit the pothole, gritting your teeth and desperately hoping that your car hasn’t been severely damaged by the impact…
If there’s one thing that we can all agree on, it’s that the risk and frustration of potholes ranks up there with sharing the roads with erratic taxi drivers or contending with the ordeals of excessive traffic caused by non-functioning traffic lights thanks to load shedding!
WHAT’S THE DAMAGE?
The threat of potholes is two-fold – these concrete craters not only have the potential to cause serious damage to your vehicle, but they can also escalate your car insurance premiums, thanks to the additional cover that vehicle owners now require for extra expenses that are typically related to pothole damage and/or fatalities.
The severity of potholes has worsened over the years. But why is this the case? Potholes are the result of several factors, such as:
- The increased volume of vehicles on our roads,
- The higher-than-average seasonal rainfalls, and most importantly
- The lack of reliable, ongoing maintenance on South Africa’s roads.
The nightmare that this causes for vehicle owners and commuters is that these potholes invariably lead to vehicle accidents, extensive damage to vehicles and, in some cases, to terrible fatalities.
According to Santam, there has been a significant increase in motor vehicle claims that are related to the deterioration of South African road conditions.
“Until such time as the condition of roads in South Africa has improved, clients need to be extra cautious about road conditions and surroundings.”
INSURANCE IMPLICATIONS OF POTHOLES
What implications do potholes have on your car insurance premium? As always, when it comes to any insurance policy, it is imperative for you to read the fine print to understand the degree to which your insurer will cover damages and fatalities relating to potholes and the deterioration of roads.
Whether or not a pothole-related claim will be covered (or even considered) by your insurer comes down to the nature of your day-to-day driving and the types of roads that you travel on. Carmag suggests that if you frequently travel on rough roads, the wear and tear on your vehicle’s suspension or shock absorbers will not be covered.
However, if the roads that are part of your normal day-to-day travels are in good repair and you hit an isolated pothole, the damage to your tyres or other parts of your vehicle could be covered as an accidental event.
According to Santam, if road surfaces are “normal” and a vehicle’s shock absorbers or tyres are damaged by an isolated pothole in the road, the insured should be indemnified as having experienced a “one-off accidental incident”.
POTHOLE DAMAGE – WHAT’S NEXT?
What should you do if a pothole has caused serious damage to your car? Here are five simple steps to help you make sure you deal with the situation correctly.
- Step 1: Evaluate the damage
Keep in mind that your insurer will not pay for subsequent damage if you continue to drive on in a vehicle that has just sustained serious damage from hitting a pothole.
- Step 2: Call for assistance
If you’re insured, you can arrange for your insurer to dispatch a tow truck. Request that your vehicle is taken to the nearest repair shop that is accredited with your insurer (most insurers offer free towing for 30-50 km per trip). If you’re not insured, give AA a call for a helping hand.
- Step 3: Document the damage
This will make it easier for you when claiming from your insurer. Take photos of the pothole and the damage that’s been caused to your car, and remember to also take note of the exact location of the pothole (you can do this by using a location pin on your phone). Take the contact details of witnesses (if any), too.
- Step 4: Report the accident with the police
If an actual vehicle accident has transpired as a result of a pothole, you’ll need a case number from the police to claim from your insurer. This is standard procedure for any kind of motor accident.
- Step 5: Claim
If your claim is approved, your damages will (most likely) be covered and your insurer will use the police case number to approach the municipality to attempt to reclaim your excess and the costs of the damages.
POTHOLE SAFETY 101
How to not let potholes get the better of your (or your vehicle) – here are five simple tactics to ensure that you and your loved ones remain safe when approaching South Africa’s nasty potholes:
Always check your tyre pressure. Keeping your tyres properly inflated helps protect you and your vehicle.
Beware of puddles. Be a defensive driver and avoid driving over deep, sharp-edged potholes that may be disguised as puddles.
Reduce your speed! Slower speeds drastically reduce the damage that can occur when hitting a pothole.
Take it easy on the brakes. Slamming on brakes has the potential to cause greater damage to your tyres and your vehicle’s suspension.
Avoid swerving. This may cause you to hit the pothole at an odd angle, which might create even more damage to your tyres and wheels.
At Genesis Insurance, our car-insurance brokers are here to offer you leading insight, advice, and support when it comes to ensuring the most reliable and comprehensive cover for you and your nearest and dearest.