Caught drunk driving in SA? Why insurance claims are rejected

<B>DRUNK DRIVING SCOURGE:</B> Drunk driving claims many lives in South Africa. <I>Image: iStock</I>
<B>DRUNK DRIVING SCOURGE:</B> Drunk driving claims many lives in South Africa. <I>Image: iStock</I>

Cape Town - Most drivers are aware if they are involved in a crash after consuming alcohol, their insurance provider will not cover their claim.

What many drivers may not be aware of is that it is much easier to repudiate a claim based on suspected alcohol consumption than it is to be arrested for it. 

Prove alcohol was involved

In a recent radio interview Deanne Wood, from the Short-term Insurance Ombudsman, said there have been significant increases in repudiation of claims for motor collisions involving the consumption of alcohol. What drivers may not be aware of is the requirements to prove alcohol was involved is easier than one would think. 

Read: 'I was three times over the limit' says reformed SA drunk driver

This is because there is a difference between criminal standards and civil standards and insurers only need to prove civil standards to repudiate a claim, says MasterDrive. Criminal standards require you to prove beyond doubt that alcohol, above the legal limits, was consumed whereas civil standards are based on the balance of probabilities. 

In the interview Wood explains what this means for drivers. “Many restaurants have CCTV cameras and the insurers will get the footage and watch what you as the driver were doing and if you consumed alcohol before you had your crash. That is sufficient to repudiate a claim.”

MasterDrive MD Eugene Herbert also points out another bit of information that Wood mentioned which could trip up many potential drunk drivers.

Devastating consequences

Herbert says: “If you are tempted to put misleading information into your claim, such as where you were before an accident, to avoid it reflecting negatively on you, seriously reconsider this. If you are discovered the claim can be repudiated. Furthermore, many insurers do go to great lengths to verify what you say.”

WATCH: 'Culture of drunk driving in South Africa'

Herbert agrees with Wood in that the financial implications of disregarding your policy can be dire. An insurer is entitled to repudiate your claim and the claims of others involved in the crash. If you cannot meet the cost of these repairs, you may be required to sell assets to do so.

“Drinking and driving can have many devastating consequences. If, despite these consequences, you are still tempted to drink and drive because you think you can escape the law, remember it may not be so easy to escape your insurer,” says Herbert. 

To learn more about responsible driving, contact MasterDrive on 011 867 4778.

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