South Africa is a unique market when it comes to car insurance. The average South African consumer has experienced change from a social and economic perspective. This means that service providing companies need to stay ahead of the change in order to offer relevant, worthwhile product offerings. This is particularly obvious in the motoring industry and specifically the car insurance industry. Cars, SUVs and other types of vehicles are often seen as costly necessities and unfortunately vehicle insurance cover is often seen as too expensive and not taken out. South African consumers should consider getting quotes from various insurance companies - they may be surprised to know that affordable cover for their vehicles does exist.
Car insurance, many motorists believe it is too expensive, but what could be the underlying reason for the general South African car insurance industry to have such a consumer perception? It's no secret that South Africa's roads are amongst the most dangerous in the world. One of the cited reasons for this is that South African motorists appear to have blatant disregard for the rules of the road and ostensible immunity from punishment for serious offences. Serious road traffic violations like speeding, driving through red lights, overtaking on solid barrier lines and driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol are commonplace and go unpunished more often than not.
It's little wonder then that only one third of SA motorists can afford the cost of car insurance. In order to cope with the enormous quantum of claims caused as a result of this lawlessness - SA has more than 18,000 fatal road accidents each year, not to mention tens of thousands of smaller non-fatal but costly accidents - SA motor insurers have had little choice under such financial pressure but to push up their premium rates almost to the point of excessiveness. What is of interest is the fact that car insurance providers in South Africa appear to have apparently shied away from taking an appropriately firm stance on this rampant lawlessness.
According to Arrive Alive statistics, the vast majority of road accidents are as a result of a deliberate violation of a basic road traffic law. If this is indeed true and all insurance is inherently prohibited from insuring events that are contra bonus mores (contrary to the law and to the public interest), then surely a vast number of motor insurance claims should be excluded even before they reach finality? Imagine the positive impact on claims reserves and car insurance pricing if this were true in SA. Sadly, this doesn’t appear to be the case. In a recent Wheels24 article entitled “Industry leaders: SA car insurance in crisis”, Seamus Casserly director of First Equity Risk Management is quoted as saying “Why don’t we have a motor insurance policy (in South Africa) that only pays if you stay within the rules, and are legally compliant? If you speed or go through a red traffic light, no cover. This as a simple way to bring down the costs of insurance and to reward legal drivers.” The payment of claims under dubious circumstances or for those that have been poorly investigated, has become a leading cause of excessive premium rate escalations. When one considers the very customer-centric goals of National Treasury, the Financial Services Board (FSB) and the Office of the Short Term Insurance Ombudsman, all of whom appear to hold the view that higher volumes of rejected claims and customer complaint are indicators of “poor customer outcomes”, it is understandable that motor insurers are often reluctant to insist that motorists always abide firmly by to the law.
Prime Meridian Direct (“PMD”) (www.primemeridian.co.za) is one of the few SA car insurance businesses that is making a genuine attempt to meet the appeal of National Treasury for the car insurance industry to provide “innovative and cheaper solutions to ensure penetration of a greater percentage of the motor pool.” Through industry leading innovation, PMD has virtually pioneered a new class of cheap car insurance products that achieves premium rates up to 50% less than traditional comprehensive motor insurance, yet still provides meaningful benefits that really pack a punch. How have they done this? One of the key differences with car insurance businesses like PMD is that they. as Casserly suggests, expect their policyholders to be honest and to abide by the rules of the road. Imagine that! Thousands of South African motorists are choosing PMD every month to reduce their insurance costs whilst agreeing to be held to a high standard of motoring morality.
Organisations like PMD are to be commended for their efforts to curb an industry-wide challenge and need the support of government bodies like National Treasury and the FSB in establishing a new South African culture of motoring lawfulness. It is probably inevitable that if applied successfully, next generation motor insurance products like those now provided by PMD will initially have slightly higher claims rejection rates and therefore higher complaints volumes than their traditional (and much more expensive) comprehensive car insurance counterparts. But just imagine the ensuing benefits of such a praiseworthy endeavour to South Africa of lives saved, destruction reduced and inclusive, affordable premiums for all!
Corporations like Prime Meridian Direct have developed innovative, cheap car insurance solutions that can fit a wide range of pockets. With some options starting from as little as R99 a month with a guarantee of no claims excesses and fixed premiums for the life of the policy, it certainly seems they’re switched on to solving the problem. Perhaps there is hope yet for South Africa’s car insurance crisis. It will, however, take government support for a return to stringent adherence to the law and the encouragement.
PMD values customer feedback when it comes to all our products, such as our range of car insurance products. We strive to always deliver the highest level of customer satisfaction. Feel free to contact us with any complaints you may have and we will do our utmost to resolve it quickly. That being said, should you have positive feedback, please feel free to let us know directly or via our HelloPeter page, we do appreciate it. You’re welcome to share your complaints on HelloPeter too, however you will receive a quicker response from us if you contact us directly.