ADVICE | What to do when your car is written off by your insurer

04 February 2020 - 14:55 By Motoring Reporter
Having a car written off by your insurance company is a traumatic experience.
Having a car written off by your insurance company is a traumatic experience.
Image: Fabio Formaggio / 123rf

It’s stressful enough if your is car written off by your insurance company, but if you don’t know the processes involved, it’s even worse. A car is considered written off when, after the accident, the insurer deems the cost of repairs higher than the insured value of the vehicle.

After you’ve notified your insurer about the accident, they will send an assessor to look at the damages. They will calculate how much repairs will cost and assess what the car’s cash value is.

“In some cases, it is viable to repair the car, and in others it is safer and more economical to write it off. If your car is written off, and it’s still under financing, you must let your financing company know. Technically, the car is still owned by the financier until your insurance company settles the claim and pays the outstanding financing amounts to them,” explains Barend Smit, marketing director of MotorHappy, a supplier of motor management solutions and car-insurance options.

If you’re involved in an accident, you must, if you are able to,  take note of the make, model and licence plate number of all vehicles involved in the accident. Get contact details of the people involved as well as any witnesses on the scene. Smit says this is important because they might help you in the future if there is a dispute.

Next you must report the accident at the nearest police station in order to get a case number, which you’ll need for insurance purposes. Then submit the accident report to your insurance company.

“If your insurance company decides your car is a write off, the payout you receive from your insurance company will largely depend on your insurance excess (the amount you pay first when you make a claim), how much you still owe if your car is being financed, and depreciation (the decreasing value of your car based on wear and tear),” says Smit.

The type of insurance you have could also affect your payout.

MotorHappy has partnered some of South Africa’s top insurance companies to provide consumers with a selection of insurance quotes. Various options are available but the most extensive option available is comprehensive car insurance, which covers you in the event of accidental damage, theft and hijacking. It also covers your car for damage caused by weather such as storms and floods. Comprehensive insurance also covers you if you are responsible for an accident and need to pay for the repair of damages to the other car.

If you believe your car can be repaired economically and it shouldn’t be written off, you can either escalate the issue at your insurance company to find a resolution, or you can appeal to the Ombudsman for Short Term Insurance.