Make sure you don’t breach your insurance policy this festive season

The festive season is officially here, but before you bust out your party vibes, make sure you have made responsible driving arrangements so that you stay safe and don’t breach your insurance policy in terms of cover. Neesa Moodley reports

Despite changes in social attitudes, the rate of positive tests for alcohol in people killed in traffic crashes rose sharply in the first decade of the new millennium, according to the Automobile Association of SA.

In a country with more than 9 million drivers, about 3 000 cases of driving under the influence are opened each month.

Driving while drunk is not only illegal, it invalidates your insurance cover with short-term insurers not covering accident damage.

The country’s largest short-term insurer, Santam, has a strict policy in this regard. A person who is under the influence of alcohol is in everyday language “drunk”.

Marius Neethling, manager of personal lines underwriting at Santam, says: “Our policy is clear, in that if policyholders are using the vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs, or their blood or breath alcohol concentration exceeds the legal limit, then they are not covered by the policy for any vehicle accidents that occur at such time.

“These claims are rejected in full once it is established that the driver was under the influence of alcohol, or had blood or breath alcohol concentration above the legal limit,” he says.

Franna Benade, MiWay’s general manager of the claims department, notes that a large number of accidents on South African roads are attributed to driving under the influence of alcohol, and that a direct link between increased risk and insurance premiums is prevalent, and affects both insurers and clients paying an insurance premium.

In line with legislation, MiWay clearly states in its policy documents that no person will be covered if the driver of the insured vehicle is under the influence of alcohol or drugs; has a blood alcohol level that exceeds the legal limit; fails a Breathalyser test; or refuses a breath or blood sample.

Safe ways to get home

All the insurers appreciate that there are times when you may indulge in a drink or two. To reduce the possibility of an accident, they now offer an additional benefit to ensure that you are driven home and don’t have to use your car.

You are able to contact their driver-assist call centres, after which a vehicle is dispatched with two drivers who drive the member home in their own vehicle.

All drivers belonging to this service are in possession of a public driver’s permit and carry a cellphone. The benefit is usually free if the destination is within a 50km radius, and a fee per kilometre will be charged thereafter.

. Santam offers you a “home-drive assistance” benefit free of charge, six times a year.

If six trips a year is not sufficient, Santam’s home-drive assistance will facilitate the booking on a member-to-pay basis. For these trips, you will receive a discount on the full fare fee as follows:

In Johannesburg, a R320 fee includes a 30% discount. It also covers 50km, and additional distances are charged at R9/km. This fare is paid directly to Europ Assistance.

In all other areas, a fee of R395 includes a 20% discount. Up to five additional passengers can be transported to the same point at no additional cost.

Bookings can be arranged between 8am and 2am, and must be arranged at least 45 minutes in advance. Services for public holidays must be booked by 5pm the day before the public holiday.

At the specified time and location, the call centre will notify you that the driver has arrived, at which time you will have 15 minutes to meet the driver.

If you do not meet the driver within 15 minutes, the call centre will notify you that the driver will be leaving and the trip will be cancelled. If you cancel your request two hours before the booked collection time, there are no consequences, but if you cancel your request an hour before the booked collection time, you forfeit one of your trips for the year.

The service is available within a 50km radius of city centres in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Nelspruit, Polokwane, Durban, East London, George, Cape Town and Bloemfontein.

. MiWay: If your car is insured with MiWay, and you have the MiHelp option enabled, you can book six free trips a year with WeDrive. Bookings for WeDrive are only allowed if the trip is in your insured car and you, as the policyholder or regular driver, are present. MiHelp requires you to ensure that all calls for collection are made before 1am. The earliest pick-up will be done at 5.30am and the last will be at 3am.

During peak times, you are required to make a booking at least 48 hours in advance. Peak times include over weekends, on public holidays (the night before and on the day) and, in some instances, major public events that happen within the covered areas.

The WeDrive service is available in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth, East London and George, subject to availability of WeDrive teams.

. DialDirect: Designated Driver Assist allows you to enjoy the freedom of a night out at a cost of R49 a month, which includes two trips a month. The first 50km is covered for free and additional kilometres are charged at R9/km. Two passengers may join the policyholder if collected and dropped off at the same points.

. Budget Insurance offers you the Designated Driver Assist with the same benefits and conditions as the DialDirect offering for R30 a month.

Over-the-limit test

You are over the limit if you have a breath alcohol content of 0.24mg per 1 000ml, or a blood alcohol limit of 0.05g per 100ml. This is equal to two-thirds of a beer or spirit cooler with 5% alcohol volume.

If you drink wine, 75ml of red or white wine per hour with an alcohol volume of 12% to 14% is acceptable. Whisky and brandy connoisseurs can drink up to one 25ml tot of alcohol an hour.

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