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'Don't get stuck in the mud': See which insurer best suits your off-road needs

2018-09-18 18:00
car driving in mud

Image: iStock

Many 4x4 enthusiasts will agree that Southern Africa has an off-road culture unlike anywhere else in the world.

The attraction of spectacular natural vistas, with brilliant night skies and absolute silence, have become the ultimate getaway for many.

Don't get stuck in the mud

But before you head out on your epic adventure, a leading insurer says along with the fun, come the risks, and it is a good idea to check exactly what you’re covered for should your trip see you stuck in the mud, stuck for a mechanic or up a creek without a paddle.

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What does a standard 4x4 insurance policy cover? Marius Steyn, Underwriting manager at Santam, says most specialist 4x4 insurance cover differs in terms of the following criteria:

• When you cross South African borders;
• Unforeseen events; and
• Bringing your car back into South Africa

"Also ensure that your insurance cover makes provision for winching equipment which you’ll need in the event of sudden and unforeseen mechanical and electrical breakdown, failure or breakage of the winching equipment of the vehicle.

bakkie in the desert

                                                                         Image: iStock

If your vehicle is accidentally damaged, some insurers will pay the reasonable cost of returning your 4x4 vehicle to South Africa, if it is accidentally damaged," says Steyn.
What do 4x4 drivers typically get exposed to? Steyn explains that consumers have been exposed to, or reported the following incidents:

• Political instability or unrest (like riot or strike) in a country;
• Theft or attempted theft of vehicle or accessories;
• Attacks from wildlife; and
• Inappropriate road surfaces or non-existent roads.

What are some of the biggest (and less notable) risks insurers need to consider when insuring off-road adventures? The biggest risk with respect to off-road adventure is the overturning of a 4x4 vehicle.

car driving in mud

                                                                         Image: iStock

The best insurers make use of the world-class rating methodology to determine the rates on different types of 4x4 vehicles and the way in which the risk is calculated and adjusted accordingly. 
What can adventurers do to protect themselves from each of these risks? Steyn advises it is important to make sure your 4x4 is ready for the off-road before attempting any routes. Always ensure that your 4x4 vehicle is properly equipped to perform on the chosen terrain (i.e. vehicle capability).
Use these tips to driving experience so that you are not caught off guard:

• Check the basics - check the air filter and the air filter box for debris.  
• Check all joints and the tires - Check all your ball joints, tie rods ends and wheel bearings and tyres.
• Shocks - Check your shocks for signs of leakage or damage or just plain worn out.
• Plan the trip / inform others - Tell those that should know where you are going. Give your itinerary to friends and family, plus officials in the area you’re off-roading in. This ensures you can easily be located should something go wrong.
• Make sure of the weather
• Food/water - Bring plenty of food and drink.    
• Fill the gas tank prior to every trip.  Always carry your extra fuel outside the vehicle.  
• Jumper cables   
• Belts, hoses and jack - Make sure you have a working jack and know how to use it.    
• First aid and flashlight
• Puncture repair kit
• Compressor to inflate tyres 
• An extra spare wheel
• Spade
• Water purification tablets 
• Ensure you’re sufficiently insured


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