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INSURANCE – COVERING THE BASICS

Insurance is a form of risk management that is used to protect against the risk of monetary loss or damage. The textbook definition is “the equitable transfer of the risk of loss, from one entity to another, in exchange for payment.” To put it in simpler terms, an insured purchases cover in the form of an insurance policy, and if something happens to go wrong the insured will not be liable for the loss.

Any insurance policy that is not life insurance can be categorized as General insurance. Examples include – insuring a person’s home and belongings against fire and theft and/or a car against accidental damage or theft. Injury due to an accident or hospitalisation for an illness or a surgery can also be insured.

No one can forecast when a car accident, flood or fire will happen but anyone involved in any form of ‘accident’ will certainly be grateful for their insurance.

Costs add up very quickly after an accident, even a slight fender bender can cost a couple thousand or more in car damages. One of the main reasons we should insure is to protect our belongings and assets against financial loss. When an individual has earned and accumulated assets, protecting them is prudent! The law also sometimes requires us to be insured against certain liabilities, for example the ‘Motor Insurance Act’ mandates that all drivers carry at least Third Party coverage.

How much should I insure for?

Normally a policy should cover the value of the asset – either the market value while insuring, or the cost of replacing the asset should it be lost or destroyed.

On what basis is a claim paid?

Generally when you need to make a claim, your insurer will make an assessment of the claim based on the details of the claim and the policy that you bought. The ceiling for a claim is the Sum Insured and this usually applies for the period of the policy. Claims are paid on the actual extent of the loss incurred as validated by documents (bills). If the asset is underinsured, you, the client, will be subject to the condition of average and as such shall bear a rateable proportion of the loss. (See glossary for explanation of Average)

What is an excess?

Simply put, your ‘excess’ is the amount you are responsible for before the insurance company will cover any expenses from your loss. In the case of Motor Insurance -if you are not at fault, the excess should be returned to you if/when your Insurer is able to recover from the other party’s Insurer.

Should I report all automobile accidents to my insurer?

Yes you should. Even if the accident appears minor, it is important that you let your insurance company know about the incident. If the other driver sues you weeks or months later, your failure to report the accident will make it very difficult for your insurer to gather evidence to represent you. In some cases failure to report an accident may cause your insurer to refuse to honour your policy.

What is a write-off ?

Your insurer has the option to decide whether to pay for repairing your car or to declare it a total loss and pay you its market value (net of any salvage). Most standard auto policies will not pay to repair a vehicle if the repairs represent the majority of, or exceed the market value of your car.

One of the main reasons we should insure is to protect our belongings and assets against financial loss.”

BUSINESS INSURANCE – BEYOND THE BASICS

What type of insurance do I need to cover my business?

Commercial insurance includes three main categories of insurance namely Property insurance, Liability (Casualty) insurance and Motor insurance. Your business may not need all of the types of coverage that are available. Your Beacon DIRECT liaison will be able to advise you as to the exposures that are typical in your industry and propose coverage options that address your circumstances. It is your responsibility, however, to select the options you need to adequately cover your business exposures.

How will underinsurance affect my claim?

In the settlement of a loss, underinsurance results in you becoming responsible for the part of the replacement value (Value at Risk) which you failed to insure. This is known as the “application of Average” and is determined by calculating the ratio of the limit of insurance you are carrying on the building or property (Sum Insured) to the limit the policy requires you to carry (Estimated Replacement Cost). For example, if the cost to replace a building is $100,000 and the policy requires you to insure for 100%, you should carry $100,000 on that building. If you have chosen to insure the building for $80,000, the policy will only cover 80% ($80,000/$100,000) of any covered loss, less the deductible.

After an inspector viewed my property, I received a list of “recommendations” from Beacon. What are my responsibilities with respect to this list?

Among the conditions on which your policy was issued is a requirement that you shall use ‘reasonable diligence and care’ to keep the premises and property insured in a proper state of repair. You are also required to take ‘such additional precautions for the prevention of loss or damage’ to the insured property. The property survey and resultant recommendations are intended to assist you in adhering to these requirements and thus minimise the exposures to which your operations are subject. The overall quality of your risk is thereby improved and your likelihood of loss reduced. Implementation of these recommendations also ensures that you enjoy the best terms and conditions that Beacon can offer.

What are the benefits of Liability Insurance?

General Liability Coverage includes:

• Bodily Injury Liability Coverage: Protects you in case injuries occur to other people resulting from your business operations.

• Property Damage Liability Coverage: Protection in case damage occurs to the property of others as a consequence of your business operations.

What are the benefits of Workmen’s Compensation/Employers Liability Insurance?

Workmen’s Compensation/Employers Liability Insurance was created to ensure that workers continue to receive their wages and recover some of their medical expenses in the event of temporary disability resulting from a job related injury or sickness. It also caters for the payment of a lump sum in the event of Death, Dismemberment or Permanent Disability. The Workmen’s Compensation Act 24 of 1960 Chapter 88:05 makes it mandatory that employers provide this cover to all workers. The policy also covers the employer’s liability in common law to the worker for negligent behavior on the employer’s part, for example not providing a safe working environment.

What are the benefits of Commercial Auto Insurance?

• Liability Coverage: In case you’re sued as a result of an auto accident.

• Collision Coverage: Helps cover physical damage to your vehicle due to collision or overturning.

• Comprehensive Coverage: Helps cover physical damage to your vehicle due to fire, theft and glass breakage.

• Rental Reimbursement Coverage: Helps cover the cost of a replacement vehicle for a specified period of time when your vehicle is disabled due to an insured loss.

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