Insurance expert warns consumers to re-look at their policies as we return to ‘normal’ and WFH ends

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Cover for policies can change when your risk changes. That's why it's important to review your insurance policies regularly.
Cover for policies can change when your risk changes. That's why it's important to review your insurance policies regularly.

It's the kind of thing that can easily slip through the cracks. The to-do list is endless when you're an adult and, although notifying your insurer of any changes in your physical address or new purchases may be the last of your concerns when life is so busy, failing to do so can come back to bite you at a later stage.

As standard practice, you should review your insurance at regular intervals, and at a minimum, on an annual basis, says Dr Hardy Ncube, the head of personal products at Standard Bank Insurance.

“It is your responsibility to ensure that all information that affects the assessment of your risk is up to date at all times,” he explains.

“As a rule of thumb, insurers require that you notify them within 14 days of any changes that could materially alter your risk.

"The onus on the insurer is to notify the client if there are any changes to the product they are on."

Dr Ncube says reviewing your insurance policy regularly helps ensure you are appropriately covered in the unfortunate event that you suffer a loss and need to make a claim.

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“It also assists in making informed decisions regarding your insurance cover and being proactive about minimizing your insurance costs.

“Reviewing an insurance policy is about understanding what you already have in place and taking note of your rights and responsibilities on your current policies, but also about identifying the gaps in your insurance portfolio where you may not have cover, for example you may have a life policy and not a funeral policy.”

Dr Ncube says reviewing your policies could be done in a number of ways, such as the following:

  • Ensure that the policy still matches your needs and consider your individual insurance needs;
  • Start by understanding how much cover you require, what potential risks you face, are there high valued or unique items that may need special consideration;
  • Then ensure that you speak to your insurer or broker, obtain the correct advice and understand the policy terms and conditions;
  • There are many options available, and you can tailor your insurance to meet your individual needs at a price that is affordable to you.

Any change in personal circumstances can change your risk and failing to keep your details up to date means that you could encounter problems when you attempt to claim after suffering a loss, adds Dr Ncube.

“You could find that you are not covered, and your claim could potentially not be paid in its entirety or partially paid, or you could find yourself in a space where you are underinsured. As a result, it's in your best interest to keep your insurance policy details up to date.”

Change can include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Renovating your home – Increasing the value of your home
  • Accumulating new possessions – Increasing the total value of your contents
  • Purchasing a high valued item such as jewellery – that may necessitate more specific insurance
  • Your personal circumstances change – You are no longer using your vehicle for work purposes
  • You have installed extra security at your property – reducing the risk of theft

If you are married or getting married and/or have children, you may want to review your coverage to ensure your coverage levels are adequate to look after your dependents in case of an accident.

People often say insurance companies are always looking for ways to get out of paying out claims, but Dr Ncube says this is not true.

“Contrary to popular belief, insurance companies are in the business of paying valid claims in terms of the product that a client holds. If an insurer were to pay for invalid claims, this will not be not sustainable in the long run and can result in the insurer going out of business or the cost of insurance becoming unaffordable,” he says.

Dr Ncube encourages consumers to contact their insurers first when they are aggrieved because each company has its own internal processes, adding that many insurers looked for ways to provide relief to consumers by offering cash-back and/or premium relief.

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“If the consumer feels that they have not been treated fairly or have additional evidence or facts that need to be considered, they should give the insurer an opportunity to resolve the matter. If they are still not satisfied with the outcome, they can contact the Ombudsman for Short-term Insurance, who provide an independent, free and fair dispute resolution mechanism.”

Covid-19 has also had an impact on people’s insurance policies. Some have changed their policies because they work from home and their risk profile has changed. Others have lost jobs, downgraded and have had to change their lifestyles too. Now, as we slowly return to normal, Dr Ncube advises consumers to re-look at their policies.

“You would need to ensure that your insurance is updated in line with your lifestyle changes and the risks you potentially face," he says.

"This will ensure that you have suitable cover in place in the unfortunate event you suffer a loss and need to claim.” 

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