Your insurer could be close to dumping you

Consumer journalist Wendy Knowler’s ‘watch-outs of the week’

12 March 2021 - 14:48
Don’t wait for your insurer to dump you with a month’s notice, because that’s a really vulnerable position from which to try to secure yourself new cover for your car. Stock photo.
Don’t wait for your insurer to dump you with a month’s notice, because that’s a really vulnerable position from which to try to secure yourself new cover for your car. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/Tommaso Altamura

In this weekly segment of bite-sized chunks of useful information, consumer journalist Wendy Knowler summarises news you can use:

Your insurer could be close to dumping you

If you’ve had a run of bad luck with your car and made more than two insurance claims in a relatively short space of time, do yourself a favour and start shopping around for another policy.

Don’t wait for your insurer to dump you with a month’s notice, because that’s a really vulnerable position from which to try to secure yourself new cover for your car.

You will have to declare your claims to other insurance companies — and if you don’t, they have means of finding out anyway — and thanks to your so-called “unfavourable loss ratio” you will struggle to get cover. If you do, the premium will no doubt be much higher than what you’re used to.

And get this: while your insurer does have to tell you that they can cancel your policy if you don’t pay your premium — after at least a month’s grace period — there is nothing compelling them to tell you that they could cancel on you for overclaiming.

So get out before you are pushed out if you’ve had to claim “too much” in a short space of time.

How much is your loyalty costing you?

Many assume that companies will reward us for our loyal custom over many years but, in fact, the opposite is mostly true.

I learnt this years ago with the insurance I had on my car and household contents. That competitive quote you got when you signed up becomes very uncompetitive as the years go by, if you don’t make sure it doesn’t.

The insurers are able to offer the competitive rates to attract new clients because of the padded policies being paid by the old faithfuls.

It’s the same with car tracking contracts.

Reader Anton was recently shocked to discover, via a friend, that the top package being offered by the tracking company he’d been with for years is R190.

“I’d been paying more than R300 a month, and not even on the top package,” he said.

When he took this up with the company, he got the usual “annual escalations” response. His monthly fee has since dropped to R190.

So make that call if you’ve been with the same tracking company, with the same vehicle, for some time.

You don’t ask, you don’t get!

What to ask before you buy in an estate, duplex or block of flats

Trustees of bodies corporate will most likely make sure you have a copy of their rules before you or your tenant moves in, but before you sign that sale agreement, you must protect yourself by asking to see two other very important documents.

That’s according to the Community Schemes Ombud Service’s acting chief ombud  Ndivhuo Rabuli who has arbitrated her fair share of disputes between schemes and owners, mainly around levy payments.

Request a copy of the rules, if you haven’t been given them, plus the financial statements and minutes of the most recent annual general meeting.

Bodies corporate are obliged to hold an AGM annually, so if that hasn’t happened recently, that’s the first red flag.

The AGM minutes and financial statements will alert you to issues such as levy arrears and looming big expenses for which a special levy or two will be charged to owners, often especially big ones. Armed with such information, you may reconsider your purchase decision.

And here’s a warning from me: if you are buying an investment unit with existing “tenants”, ask the seller for proof of their rental payments.

Many tenants turn out to be illegal squatters and getting them out will prove to be a very costly, lengthy, frustrating experience.

CONTACT WENDY: E-mail: consumer@knowler.co.za; Twitter: @wendyknowler; Facebook: wendyknowlerconsumer


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