Avoiding hidden surprises in your commercial motor cover

Commercial Lines

Avoiding hidden surprises in your commercial motor cover

Published: 12 July 2021

If anything happened to your company’s vehicles, would it put the brakes on your business being able to operate? It’s critical to ensure your fleet cover is up-to-date and adequate. It’s also important to read the fine print and make sure that any conditions or exclusions don’t block business needs. For example, some policies may restrict the hours that heavy commercial vehicles are allowed to be driven.

Here, Craig McLaurin, Senior Motor Underwriter at Santam – South Africa’s leading short-term insurer – elaborates on fleet insurance considerations:

  1. Check the exclusions: Make sure these don’t interfere with your business’ needs. For example, the conditions written into a policy may impact who can drive the vehicle and driver behaviour. Sometimes, cover may only be for drivers over a certain age, with a specified amount of experience or specific licence. Often there are also conditions that prevent the use of the vehicle during late night hours, e.g., from 23h00 to 05h00. There may also be limitations when it comes to things like hail damage – a vehicle may not be automatically covered or there might be additional excesses for it.
  2. Check the security requirements: Most insurers have minimum requirements when it comes to security, but on occasion some may have extra asks, such as the installation of a stolen vehicle recovery system.
  3. Does your team drive the vehicles after hours? If the cars are being used for personal use, this may also impact your cover. Check if there are any restrictions in this regard.
  4. Let your insurer know what your fleet is used for: Often, a fleet will be used for multiple purposes. As most policies include a description of use clause, make sure that the insurer is aware of these.
  5. Does the policy offer loss of use or hired vehicle extension? Following an insured event, does the insurer offer a replacement vehicle as part of extended cover to help avoid business interruption? Is the replacement vehicle adequate for your business’ needs?
  6. Are parts easily replaceable? Should a vehicle be damaged in a collision, getting it back on the road is vital. The availability of spare parts can sometimes cause delays. Choosing a vehicle that is fully supported in South Africa will allow the insurer to facilitate quick repairs.
  7. Is a special license required? For some vehicles, drivers need more than just a driver’s licence. Examples include vehicles with a gross vehicle mass exceeding 3 500 kg, a breakdown service vehicle or bus. These vehicles require the addition of a Professional Driving Permit. Because most policies will require compliance with the licensing laws of South Africa, drivers should be appropriately licensed to operate these vehicles.
  8. Are licenses renewed? Companies should have a system in place to ensure driver’s licenses are renewed timeously. Most insurers will accept that there may be some delay, especially if this is no fault of the business.
  9. Are the vehicles well maintained? Some insurers may repudiate a claim if the cause of the collision is proven to be directly due to poor maintenance, for example, brakes failure or worn tires.

For more information on Santam’s commercial cover option, visit Santam.co.za.