What happens if the other driver is uninsured?

In South Africa, between 60 and 70% of motorists are uninsured. With global recession and an employment market not doing so well, most motorists comply with the requirement of taking out insurance for the vehicle, merely for purposes of accessing vehicle asset finance, and a few months down the line they cancel it. Some opt for downgrading their motor vehicle cover with time, resulting in them being under-insured. A large number of motorists have defaulted in their motor vehicle insurance premium payments.

Even the most cautious driver is likely to be involved in a motor vehicle collision with an uninsured driver and the likelihood is quite high. In such a scenario, the chances are the insured driver, or the insurer will foot the bill of having the car repaired.

The question now is what to do when you are involved in a collision with another driver, any driver for that matter?

The most important thing to do is that you should take note of the other driver’s name, and other personal details like ID number and address, as well the details of the other vehicle like the make, registration number, model, and colour. One must also record as much detail as possible about the accident scene and the surroundings. Also the information regarding what happened as far as one could remember must also be recorded. Such information like whether the traffic lights were working, was the other driver speeding, did he indicate, was his lights on or off, amongst other things; is important. This is important because the other driver is most likely to put all the blame on you and deny responsibility for the collision, whether he or she is insured or not. If one can get witnesses to the collision, one must take down their names and contact details as well to strengthen one’s case.

The trend has been that most uninsured drivers will deny fault even in cases where it is as clear as day that they were at fault, just so that the other driver’s insurance company pays out. This is where all the information above comes in handy.

When it happens that one is involved in a motor vehicle collision with an uninsured vehicle, the insurance company would pay for the damage caused, and the insurance company will later claim from the driver at fault. Experience has shown that this does not happen often if at all- insurance companies usually struggle to claim the amount of damages from an uninsured driver. In this unfavourable economic climate, it has become even more problematic than before, with the number of uninsured drivers rising almost on a daily basis. This has resulted in insurance companies charging higher insurance premiums, to offset this very standoff. In simple language, the few insured motorists are paying the price for uninsured drivers out there.

The motor insurance industry in South Africa is in talks and plans are already underway to make third party insurance compulsory for all motorists.  The government is currently looking into the best way to implement universal third party cover and this commitment most countries in the developed world already have compulsory third party insurance in place for all motorists and we are following suit. This is likely to reduce insurance premiums for already covered motorists and is a step in the right direction.