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A new car owner's practical guide to car insurance during COVID-19

Its all Insurance

Posted on Wednesday, February 17, 2021

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The Coronavirus has been the talk of the town for many months now, and while it’s getting more attention than The Real Housewives of Johannesburg, how much attention does your car get? We bet not as much as your fridge. 

 

With lockdown restrictions and people working remotely, there has been a 75% decrease in traffic on the roads, with people doing their part to flatten the curve. And while the curve was flattened for a little while, our financial burdens have not. Some people have had to sell their businesses, some have had to give up their cars, some have cancelled their insurance, and some don’t know how it will affect them in the future. 

 

We have all had to adapt to these strange times and for some, the lift on cigarettes and alcohol ban couldn’t have come at a better time (thank you, Mr President).

 

‘Insure your car even when the roads are emptier’

 

So you’re a new car owner. You must be overwhelmed with questions during this uncertain time. What types of insurance are there? Can you afford car insurance? Fewer people are on the road, so is it even necessary to get insurance? How much time do you have to get insurance on your new car? Is COVID-19 going to affect your premiums? Who can you count on? 

 

First and foremost, it’s important to have some level of car cover even when the roads are emptier. That’s because you’re not only covered for road accidents but theft as well, which could happen when your car is stationary in your driveway. While fewer cars on the road does mean less risk, you have to make sure you’re still covered for any eventuality. Here are a few types of car insurance you can consider if you’ve recently become a first-time car-owner:

 

  • Comprehensive Car Insurance: This offers you extensive cover in the unfortunate event that your car gets stolen, hijacked, damaged in an accident or natural disaster. A package like this offers you financial protection whether you’re at fault or not. 

  • Third-Party, Fire and Theft Car Insurance: This is much like Comprehensive Car Insurance, with the exception of cover for damage done to your own car. This package covers you if your car is stolen or damaged by theft or fire. You’ll also be covered should you cause any damage to someone else’s car. 

  • Third-Party Only Car Insurance: This is our most basic form of car cover. It only provides coverage for damage done to someone else’s property. Your car isn’t covered, so you’ll be responsible for the cost of your own repairs. 

 

If you’re a young driver (younger than 25), you’ll soon realise that your age plays a big role in how insurance companies assess your risk and your premium. Having said that, whether you’re 20 or 50, if you’ve bought a brand new car with a higher cash value, your premium is likely to be higher, but if you’ve equipped your car with safety features, like an approved alarm system or tracking device, you should qualify for lower premiums. 

 

One of the best ways to find the right and most affordable car insurance for you is to get one of SA’s lowest insurance quotes* – from Budget Insurance

 

‘Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn,’ but you should 

 

Saving is a big part of financial growth, but budgeting is an even bigger part. A lot of people fail to incorporate insurance into their monthly budget. Many see it as a grudge purchase that can be cancelled in a financial pinch. But before you make a decision that could expose you to hefty financial consequences, look at your options. Insurance is there to protect you and others, and with the right cover, you know that if an accident happens, you have coverage that takes care of the costs.  

 

‘I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse’

 

So what if you can’t afford to pay your car insurance because of the ‘Rona? The first thing you should do is contact your insurance provider. If you’re a Budget customer, here are the different ways we may be able to help: 

  • Ask about a payment plan: We urge you to contact us to discuss payment plans. We have offered premium relief to many of our customers during the Coronavirus pandemic.

 

  • Ask about extended grace periods: If, after you’ve been granted a payment plan but you’re still unable to pay your premium, get in touch so your policy isn’t cancelled.

 

  • Ask about penalty and small-fee waivers: In light of COVID-19, if you’ve incurred a penalty fee or have smaller outstanding fees, call us to discuss ways to work around these.

 

  • Ask about premium reductions: Chat to us about a possible premium reduction (if you’re working from home and driving less). 

 

  • Ask about security discounts: Your premiums could be lowered if you’ve taken extra security measures, like installing an alarm system or tracking device in your car, or you’re now parking your car in a secure garage at night if you weren’t before.

 

  • Ask about good driver discounts: If you’ve got a pretty solid record with no incidents reported, you are likely to be rewarded for your safe-driving skills.  

 

The most important thing is – don’t cancel your car insurance. If something happens to your car, you won’t be covered for any losses, and the gap in your insurance coverage might mean that you end up paying a higher premium when you decide to restart your cover. 

 

‘Houston, we have a problem’

 

You might be wondering about insurance claims during this pandemic. Well, due to social distancing, many of our consultants are working from home, making it more difficult to process claims. The good news is that your claims can be submitted digitally on our website. Simply log into your profile to get started. 

 

Even standing still, your car is prone to damage. Make sure you peak under the hood every now and then to prevent the effects of lockdown damaging your car and your pocket: 

 

  • Engine: The engine of your car is the most expensive component and should be serviced regularly. Unless you’re a qualified mechanic, we recommend you have it done by a professional. Starting your engine regularly and taking it for a 10-minute drive every now and then should grease the moving parts contained in the engine. This prevents corrosion. 

 

  • Electrical components: Cars contain many expensive electrical components. It’s therefore a good idea to keep your batteries well-maintained and clean. If you spot any corrosion build-up on your battery terminals, try (carefully) pouring hot water over each terminal. This will help dissolve the build-up. Cover the terminals with a bit of grease to prevent the corrosion from recurring. If you’re not a qualified mechanic, you can speak to a professional about disconnecting the black negative cable to preserve the battery. Or you can simply make sure you take your car for a short drive every day. 

 

  • Cooling system: You should look after your cooling system, and we’re not talking about just putting water inside the radiator. South Africa’s climate varies from cold to extremely hot and humid temperatures. Therefore, buying a cooling agent like antifreeze could be just the thing you need! It acts as a lubricant and some even contain anti-corrosion properties, so be on the lookout for those. In an emergency, If your car is overheating, switch off your car immediately. If it’s safe to do so (you’re not in the way of traffic and there’s no smoke coming from the bonnet), open your windows and switch on your heater (not the AC) and fan to its max setting, allowing the heat from the engine to leave your car. 

 

  • Fuel systemDid you know that fuel has a shelf life? Leaving your car to sit undriven for a long time can thicken the fuel and can lead to some hefty repair expenses. Don’t run your car until the tank is empty either; the fuel at the bottom can have sediment in it, leading to blocked filters. 

 

Make sure you know how to take care of your car even if you’re not using it as often as you might like. You’ll end up saving yourself a lot of money on repairs and mechanics while preventing any serious damage to your car. 

 

Affordable, ‘cos you can’t afford not to

 

The Coronavirus pandemic has called on us to be vigilant, adapt, and plan for our future. While we’re all trying to cut costs, car insurance should not be one of them. Budget Insurance understands tight budgets, and COVID-19 won’t change that. If you need a little premium relief, get in touch with us today on 0861 60 01 20 between 07h00 and 18h00 Monday to Friday, and 07h00 to 14h00 on Saturdays. Get a car insurance quote online with us

 

Disclaimer

Sources: IOL

The information in this article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as financial, legal, or medical advice.