Everyone rides in a car at some point to get to their destination – it could be your car, a friend’s or family member, or public transport. Whoever owns the car you ride in, you have an interest in its insurance. Riding an uninsured car, whether yours or belonging to somebody else, is like taking a death plunge. If an accident happens, you will be on your own, literally. You can’t expect any compensation and if you are the owner of the car, you will be run bankrupt by claims that will follow. Insurance takes care of such eventualities and gives you peace of mind to know if anything happened, you will have a helping hand.
In most countries, Kenya included, it is mandatory to have liability insurance cover, also known as third party cover, which covers cost of any damage you do to other people, property or other things with your car. You should be aware that third party policy does not cover injuries to you or other people on your policy and that is why the most appropriate cover is comprehensive cover, which takes care of most situations.
Comprehensive insurance covers damage not only from road accidents but also other events such a floods, fire, theft and so on. In this country, you cannot afford not to have a theft cover when motor vehicle thefts are on the increase. Comprehensive coverage makes more sense for newer vehicles and is generally required if you are paying a loan on your car. Comprehensive insurance could also include other things such as personal injury protection to cover medical costs if you are injured in an accident and it may also cover passengers and pedestrians.
It could also include towing charges and car hire services if your car needs to be off the road for some time for repairs, but all these add to your insurance cost. If you have membership in another organisation such as Automobile Association of Kenya (AA) who offer free towing services to their members, you don’t need to pay extra for that service. If you also have another car you could use incase of an accident, your premium will be cheaper if you didn’t pay for a car hire service. Check your policy to ensure you are not paying double for any aspect of the insurance.
If you are planning to buy a car or intend to renew your current insurance, plan ahead. Check on insurance policies available with different companies. Also ensure the reputation of the insurance company is good as you don’t want to be insured with a company that is likely to go bankrupt or one that does not pay promptly when a claim is lodged. Insurance costs are based on how likely a vehicle is to be stolen, damaged, or to inflict damage on other vehicles, property and people. Your age is also a major determinant factor, as well your driving experience, status of your driving license and whether you have been in accidents before. The younger you are the more expensive your policy is likely to be, as you are viewed as high risk because of your lack of experience and also the tendency for young blood to go for the thrill and drive fast. Speed is a factor in many accidents.
The value of the car and repair and replacement costs are also factors. If you are driving a Ksh5000000 car you should expect to pay more than one driving a Ksh2000000 car. Though it will cost you more to insure a new BMW than an old Toyota, one of the best ways to keep insurance costs low is to keep your driving record clean. Insurance companies charge you based on how likely you are to file a claim – and accidents are the biggest source of claims. If you cause an accident and make a claim, you can expect your policy to go up substantially upon renewal.
Most insurance companies offer a non-claim bonus if you don’t make claims and it is therefore advisable not to file small claims but to take care of them yourself. Also remember that once you file a claim you have to pay a deductible, based on what your policy contract says, even before your claim can be processed.
Before you insure your car, ensure you understand all the benefits and penalties. For example, your insurance could refuse to pay you if they can prove the accident was caused through drunken driving. Most car insurance policies are paid on a yearly basis but you can negotiate to pay on a monthly basis but this will be more expensive because of the paperwork involved.
The law requires that vehicle insurance policies are displayed on the windscreen. If in doubt of the insurance status of the car you are just about to hop in, just step to the front and check if the cover is valid. Many drivers take a risk of driving without a valid insurance policy and because traffic police cannot effectively monitor all vehicles on the road, you could be taking a great risk riding in a car that has no valid insurance.
If you get into an accident, you can be sure there will not be any compensation and if you pursue the matter through the courts, it could take a long time to be settled. At the end of draining court battles and nursing your injuries, you could find the owner of the vehicle has no assets that can be sold to compensate you. To avoid this losing battle, don’t ride in a car without a valid insurance.