Wheels24

Cover with RAF just doesn't fly

2011-11-02 10:25

Before you set off on holiday this year-end take a few moments to consider what will happen if you’re in a collision with another vehicle whose driver has no insurance – will you be covered?

Certainly cover through the state’s Road Accident Fund (RAF) isn’t going to pay your living expenses and medical bills into the future should be you be permanently disabled – well, save for a paltry R160 000 a year – or about R13 500 a month.

RIGHT TO SUE ENDED

That’s a result of changes to the state’s RAF payout system brought about in 2008 that has made it imperative to have personal accident insurance for you and your family.  

Before 2008, vehicle passengers could not only be compensated financially by the fund for injuries, medical expenses and loss of income but could also sue the guilty party for any shortfall. Now the maximum an innocent road-user can claim for injuries is R160 000 a year - but the right to sue the guilty party has been abolished.

Which, if you are the innocent party, could leave you way out on a very shaky financial limb...

According to PSG Konsult Corporate (PSGKC), the two major changes that could shatter your and your family’s life are these:

•    Road users can still claim
for injury, medical treatment, loss of income or death resulting from the negligence of a driver but a R160 000 p.a. limit now exists.  (The previous limit was R25 000 a year.)
•    So, that sounds like good news but wait... remember that the new Act has removed a person’s Common Law right to sue the guilty party.

The amended Act was challenged by the Law Society of South Africa, the Quad Para Association, the SA Association of Personal Injury Lawyers and the Johannesburg Attorneys’ Association. The Constitutional Court, however, found that these restrictions were not unconstitutional. Bertus Oosthuizen of PSGKC believes, though, that “in the event of a claim, the amendment may come under scrutiny again and end up in the Constitutional Court".

WHAT ABOUT SCHOOLCHILDREN?

The situation with school transport is also a big problem.  According to Oosthuizen there are major issues around school-bus insurance.

 “By law,” he says, “insurance companies are only allowed to offer personal and accident cover, under a school accident policy, to a maximum of R5000 per child. Unfortunately the only way to get adequate cover for your school-going child is to take out your own personal accident policy.

“Many parents only find out later that they can’t even sue the school so are left in a really difficult and sometimes financially crippling situation.”

In the past, the liability section under your vehicle insurance accommodated these claims through legal action against the driver/owner of the vehicle under the section ‘Passenger liability”.  The problem facing the insurance industry, as well as the public, is that since the new Act came in effect there has not been a court case that can be used as a precedent.  

So, the insurance industry still recommends that you keep the passenger liability cover under the vehicle section until the market can refer to a particular court case.

TYPE OF CRASH COUNTS

Who is covered under the Road Accident Fund? All road users, whether the vehicle driver, a passenger, a pedestrian or a cyclist; the only qualifying factor to lodge a claim against the RAF is that a motor vehicle accident must have occurred.

Oosthuizen adds: “Not all accidents are covered under the RAF. For instance, if your vehicle skids into a tree, injuries which leave you permanently disabled will not be covered; the Act stipulates that the actual driving of a car must have led to the injuries or death.  So, if you collide with a tree, the tree caused the injuries, not the car.  The same applies if a mechanic is working on a car and it falls on him, the RAF will not cover the claim.”

What can we do to protect ourselves from these shortfalls - the restriction of R160 000 a year and the fact that you cannot sue the negligent driver? Get a personal accident policy which provides cover for death, permanent or temporary disablement and medical expenses limited to the sum insured.

SOME EXAMPLES...

A professional person in an expensive vehicle is involved a collision. There is no third party involved but the “professional” is permanently disabled and cannot work. Maximum RAF claim: a meagre R160 000 a year.

The same driver is involved with a third party but is an innocent party. The only amount the innocent person can claim is – once again –R160 000 a year. Legal action against the guilty driver is not permitted.

Person A is a passenge
r in a vehicle whose driver causes an accident. Both are permanently disabled by the accident. The maximum amount either would be able to claim from the RAF individually would be R160 000 a year. Before 2008 the driver was excluded from claiming against the fund.

The answer to each of the above - a personal accident policy from a reliable insurance company.

Buy yourself and your family one.

Before Christmas.

Comments
  • mariska.lesch - 2011-11-02 15:58

    If the previous limit was R25 000 a year as per your article, how is the current limit of R160 000 per year LESS then the previous limit? • Road users can still claim for injury, medical treatment, loss of income or death resulting from the negligence of a driver but a R160 000 p.a. limit now exists. (The previous limit was R25 000 a year.)

  • Esaia - 2011-11-03 09:00

    The R 25 000 was for Special Damages for example Loss of Earnings Medical Expenses Past and Future all limited to 25K. If your past medical expenses amounted to R30 000 , Loss of Earnings R 5000 Total loss R 35 000. You will be paid out only R 25 000 to cover both heads of damages. The shortfall you were able to claim from the Offending driver.

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