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Under the influence… no excuse to get behind the wheel

29 November 2018Myra Knoesen
Christelle Colman

Christelle Colman

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that of all the accidents that occur on South African roads, 58% are attributed to alcohol abuse. According to Arrive Alive, research indicates that 50% of people who die on our roads have a blood alcohol concentration above 0.05 gram per 100 millilitres - currently the legal limit.

“The insurance implications that are associated with drunk driving are serious and could cost motorists a lot of money. Insurers may not be able to pay claims if it is evident that the driver was driving under the influence at the time of the accident. Not only that, but a drunk driving offence could impact a motorist’s risk profile and offenders may find insurers refusing to cover them following such an incident. In addition, offenders could find themselves subjected to higher insurance premiums,” says Christelle Colman, Executive for High-Net-Worth Solutions at Old Mutual Insure. 

Looking at the implications 

“The implications of a driving related record on a client’s insurance viability will depend on the seriousness of the offence. This is then further influenced by the risk assessment style, meaning that different insurers will assess different factors when they determine premiums for clients that have been found guilty of a driving related offense,” says Colman. 

“There is really no excuse to get behind the wheel of a car under the influence of any substance, and that includes marijuana, even if you have used it a few days ago. If it is found to be in your system, and the insurer can prove that you were under the influence, your claim will be rejected,” continues Colman. 

“With stricter laws having been enforced over recent years to minimise the risks associated with drunk driving, more people are opting to use driver assistance services. These services provide motorists with the opportunity to be driven home in their own car by a pre-approved driver and work much in the same way as the services provided by insurers,” says Colman. 

Number of value-added services 

“Most reputable insurers do offer a number of value-added services, this usually includes a limited number of ‘Drive me home’ rides per year, it is usually around six rides per year. This is normally prearranged before a night out. So, if a client knows he or she is going to a birthday celebration and plans on drinking, the client can arrange with his or her insurer to be collected at a particular time from a specific venue. They will then send a driver to drive the client home in his or her own vehicle,” says Colman. 

“It is of utmost importance that motorists are aware if they have a driving assistance option available to them within their insurance policy. They should also know how many times they are able to use this service on a yearly basis as this can help with planning for special occasions coming up in the year and also over the festive season,” continues Colman. 

“These services are there to help clients avoid drinking and driving while having a good time, and to reduce the number or drunk driving accidents on our roads,” says Colman. 

Tips brokers can share with their clients 

“In order to further avoid accidents, brokers need to advise their clients to have a detailed look at the type of services that are offered to them through their various service providers. This involves an individual’s bank, insurance provider or even medical scheme. This will help them understand exactly what services they have access to, and what their limitations are, which will guide them to ensure the most appropriate solution is then chosen by the broker’s clients. In addition to the above, brokers can inform their clients of the various other options available to them,” emphasizes Colman. 

“Driver assistance is beneficial as it ensures personal safety and may significantly reduce the risk of being involved in accidents that involve driving under the influence of alcohol. This is because drunk driving accidents do not only affect the person responsible for the collision but innocent individuals,” she says. 

“There are also many other safe affordable options available to South African road users to avoid drunk driving, which insurers fully support. Uber and Taxify are two very convenient app-based driving services that can be used on a night out allowing a client to leave his or her car at home. The individual does not always know exactly when he or she will want to go home, the use of these apps allows the individual to wait until he or she is ready to go home and will send the individual the next available driver in his or her area at that time, taking just a few minutes to reach him or her. There are also many other reliable taxi services,” she continues. 

“The cost of a taxi, Uber or assisted driving service is far less costly than any potential damage to one’s vehicle, or even worse, the loss of life due to a drunk driving accident,” concludes Colman.

Editor’s Thoughts:
Drunk driving poses serious insurance implications. Like Colman mentioned, brokers need to advise their clients to have a detailed look at the type of services that are offered to them through their various service providers. Do you believe value-added services such as driver assistance will curb accidents associated with drunk driving? Please comment below, interact with us on Twitter at @fanews_online or email me your thoughts at myra@fanews.co.za.

 

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