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Avoid nasty vehicle insurance surprises


Here are 10 key things to look out for in your vehicle insurance document.

NOT checking your policy is a big mistake. Recent research by consumer website FairerFinance revealed that 30 000 words was the average for motor insurance policy documents. This means that it would take longer for someone to wade through documents produced by most car insurers than it would for them to read a novel such as George Orwell's Animal Farm.

"The majority of consumers are notoriously bad at reading the documents, contracts and policies for products and services they buy – often to their own detriment,” explained John October, spokesman for Dial Direct Insurance. 

The survey also found that just 27 percent of the people surveyed claim they read the terms and conditions and policy documents in full. Of these, just 17 percent said they understood them. Almost three quarters (73 percent) of those who did not read all the small print blamed this on the length of the documents.

"So many of us buy items and services, including insurance, and sign on the dotted line without really taking the time to read the document in order to truly understand what we are buying,” said October. He added that some people get caught despite reading the document, simply because they don't understand what it means. "Although it's tedious, it is important for consumers to know the ins and outs of their short-term insurance policies and understand the implications."

To avoid a nasty surprise at claims stage, it is a good idea to read and re-read your policy. Look at the vehicle section on your policy and ask:

      1. Does this motor policy include hail damage?

      2. Is the driving of your vehicle restricted to a named driver?

      3. Is cover for theft or hijacking subject to the installation of an immobiliser or tracking device?

      4. Are business use extensions included in car and household insurance?

      5. What territorial limits are applicable?

      6. Are penalties imposed for young drivers?

      7. What excesses apply in the event of loss or damage?

      8. Is there cover for loss/damage from mining operations or from landslip or subsidence?

      9. Is there provision for car hire?

    10. What other value-added benefits are there?

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