Policy holder education vital for maximising insurance payouts 

At the start of the new year, many find themselves grappling with a myriad of financial strains, including school fees, stationery expenses, rent, and essential household needs.  

While some are excited to return to work, others are burdened by the aftermath of festive season road accidents that continue to plague the nation.  

The festive season often witnesses a shift in people’s behaviour on the roads, leading to an increased likelihood of car accidents. The combination of holiday excitement, social gatherings, and celebration usually results in risky behaviours such as excessive drinking and impaired driving. Some road distractions can be attributed to the flurry of activities and the desire to capture and share moments on social media – an activity that can divert attention away from the road. 

Before Christmas, Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga revealed alarming statistics, stating that in the first three weeks of the festive season, more than 700 people had lost their lives on South African roads.  

Over 256 000 motorists faced fines for road rules violations, including speeding and not wearing seatbelts, and nearly 4 800 drivers were arrested for various offenses.  

Getting involved in a car accident is an experience no one desires, but being prepared and properly insured can alleviate some of the ensuing stress. 

Car insurance companies employ various strategies to minimise their financial liability and avoid settling claims promptly. These strategies may include thorough investigations to assess the claim’s validity, searching for policy violations or discrepancies in the claimant’s information, and exploiting the fine print in insurance policies to avoid liability. 

In some cases, insurance companies may delay the claims process, request extensive documentation and proof of loss, or engage in negotiations to reduce the settlement amount.  

They may even dispute liability or argue that the damages exceed policy limits. While not all insurers resort to these practices, it is crucial to know your rights as a policyholder and understand consumer laws. 

  

To assist consumers to navigate the complexities of insurance matters, John Fitch, a personal injury law firm, offers some insight. 

  • What to do if your insurance company denies your car accident claim: gather more information about the incident and resubmit the claim.
  • How to handle low insurance settlement offers: consider seeking legal counsel to ensure you receive fair compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and
    vehicle repairs.
  • When an insurance settlement offer is too low: you do not have to accept or regret it. Instead, you can tell the insurance company you would like a lawyer’s opinion before you do anything. 
  • This will give you time to make a careful decision or get advice from a lawyer. 

Depending on the facts of your case, you may be entitled to many damages, and you – and the insurer – may not have considered all of them.”  

  • How to increase the value of your insurance settlement offer: work with an attorney to assess non-economic damages, gather strong evidence, and represent your needs accurately while complying with your rights and obligations.Your current settlement offer may not reflect the damages you deserve. 

However, a lawyer can help you recognise your eligibility for all the damages you deserve and can also negotiate for these damages for you, allowing you to focus on more important matters, such as your health and family. 


The firm added that there are no laws that require a victim to use a lawyer to pursue compensation. However, using a lawyer is recommended to handle legal proceedings on your behalf and you could be more likely to receive a better settlement.  

“While reaching a settlement for a car accident without a lawyer is possible, you might risk undervaluing your case if you are unaware of what personal injury law entitles you to receive,” it said. 

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