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How to avoid a car insurance claim over the long weekend

How to avoid a car insurance claim over the long weekend
Motorists during the launch of the Easter Road Safety Campaign at the entrance to Soshanguve in Pretoria on 4 April 2023. (Photo: Gallo Images / Frennie Shivambu)

It’s that time of year when public holidays come thick and fast and it’s a long weekend more often than not. Data from Auto & General Insurance shows a 96% rise in break-in claims over the Easter long weekend in 2019 compared with a typical weekend.

Before you head off for a long-weekend break with your family, read these travel and safety tips to ensure a fuss-free and insurance claim-free holiday. 

Netcare 911 spokesperson Sarah Kekana recommends that you avoid travelling on peak traffic days, which fall on Friday, 29 March and Monday, 1 April this year. “These are often high-incident days on the road due to traffic congestion. Plan your route in advance and take note of any alternative routes you could use in case of any unexpected delays or road closures.”

Your pre-trip road check

Leruo Malumo, product manager at Santam, recommends:

  • Tyres: Ensure that wheel alignment and balancing have been done, that tyres are in good condition, that the tread is within legal limits and that the pressure is according to the manufacturer’s specifications. Don’t forget to check if you do have a spare wheel and that it is in good condition;
  • Windscreen and wipers: Ensure your windscreen is free of cracks and stone chips, which can affect visibility. Your front and rear wipers should be in good working order to clear rain and debris from the glass. Remember to fill up your windscreen wash;
  • Book a service: To avoid the inconvenience and expense of a mechanical breakdown it is a good idea to stick to the service intervals prescribed by the manufacturer. Service your vehicle before going on a road trip; and
  • Stock your emergency supply: Invest in a first-aid kit to help you deal with road trip headaches like motion sickness and cuts. A torch, glow-in-the-dark triangles and plenty of water and wet wipes are always handy in the car.

Avoid distracted driving

  • Ask a passenger to monitor traffic reports and alerts on X (formerly Twitter) and road travel apps for you;
  • Listen to the local radio station for traffic reports;
  • Download a podcast or your favourite music before the trip and put a passenger in charge of the playlist;
  • Keep a safe travelling distance of at least three seconds, and double this in wet weather;
  • Stop every two hours in well-lit, safe areas away from the roadside to stretch your legs and rest; and
  • Stay well-hydrated and keep the inside temperature of your car cool while driving.

Plan your journey

Deciding beforehand which routes to take and where to rest will make your drive a less-stressful experience. Don’t try to cover too much distance in one day – tiredness and lack of concentration often lead to accidents.

When you plan your trip

Consult the radio or social media for weather predictions, route updates and traffic alerts, and “share the responsibility of driving so you can take turns driving long distances”, says Malumo.

Driving tips

  • Some things are non-negotiable when driving, such as drinking and driving or driving under the influence of alcohol – the biggest cause of road accidents in South Africa – and texting or talking on your phone while driving;
  • Always wear a safety belt and make sure all passengers do too;
  • Don’t overload your vehicle. It is not worth being the camper with the coolest gear if it makes your car top-heavy and unsafe on the road;
  • Look out for road hazards, including obstructions such as potholes or animals, especially in rural areas. Always expect the unexpected and try to anticipate obstacles before they appear;
  • Stick to the speed limit and keep a safe following distance. Accidents often happen when cars overtake, misjudging distances and timing; and
  • Make sure you have the number for an emergency or roadside assistance on hand. Most leading insurers offer complimentary SOS services, so get all the important contact details before leaving home. DM
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