If you have a car crash during curfew, will your insurance claim be rejected?

01 January 2021 - 07:00 By wendy knowler
Johannesburg Metro Police Department officers are enforcing the 9pm-6am lockdown level 3 curfew.
Johannesburg Metro Police Department officers are enforcing the 9pm-6am lockdown level 3 curfew.
Image: JMPD

Insurers generally don’t honour a claim if you were doing anything illegal at the time of the so-called claimable event — such as driving over the legal alcohol limit or without a valid licence.

So what about if you have an accident between 9pm and 6am, when you shouldn’t be on the road at all, thanks to the latest Disaster Management Act curfew?

No existing policy would include any mention of a government curfew, at least not one taken out before March this year, so how would such a claim be treated?

TimesLIVE asked a number of insurers, and most said the same thing — they would treat such claims on a case-by-case basis. Driving during the curfew hours will not in itself automatically lead to a claim rejection because of increased risk, they said.

NAKED co-founder Ernest North: “While we fully support government’s efforts to responsibly curb Covid-19’s impact, and we fully encourage individuals to comply, each case will be judged on its own merits to determine whether breaking the curfew added to the risk in a material way.

“For example, if a user decides to drive home after curfew, the risk is not significantly higher, and the claim won’t be rejected on the grounds of illegal activity. This is the same as a vehicle's licence disk being expired by a month or two. It's technically illegal, but not materially affecting the risk, so because we don't want to look for reasons to reject claims, reasonably it can be overlooked.

“But if driving after curfew forces you to take a new route, without street lights, because you’re trying to avoid the roadblock you see up ahead, then your illegal activity did increase the risk materially, and it can be used to reject the claim.”

SANTAM policyholders had better not chance it though. SA's largest short term insurance company, told TimesLIVE: “Most insurance policies provide cover for this eventuality. Santam, however, advises clients to adhere to the regulations as any transgressions could result in repercussions.”

KING PRICE: “King Price does not have a clause in our policies that specifically excludes cover, when an accident occurs during the lockdown hours. We will also not be amending our polices to include such an exclusion in future. We have had many claims where the accidents did occur during lockdown hours and we have settled the claims. Insurers cannot reject claims for accident damage that occur during lockdown hours. An insurer can only rely on an exclusion, if the transgression contributed to a loss.”

HOLLARD: “Hollard has a number of different motor vehicle insurance policies and while we may be entitled to reject such claims in terms of some of these policy wordings, we would in every case consider an incident on its merits. This would be in order to understand, among other things, how being on the road at that time may have contributed to any claim.”

OUTSURANCE: “Claims arising from incidents happening between hours deemed in curfew will not automatically be rejected. Each claim’s circumstances will be reviewed on its merits. Curfew is not an exclusion in our policy wordings.”

DISCOVERY INSURE: “We have not applied this as an exclusion on any claims, and each claim is assessed on its own merits. However, the application of the curfew is not used in the adjudication of claims.”

GET IN TOUCH: Wendy Knowler specialises in consumer journalism. You can reach her via e-mail: consumer@knowler.co.za or on Twitter: @wendyknowler

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