Stay safe and insured over the long weekend: check your car before you travel

31 May 2017

Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman Karen Stevens is reminding all long weekend travellers to check their cars before hitting the road.

“Driving carefully is the most important thing,” says Karen. “It’s also really important to check your car before you leave. Make sure your car not only has a current warrant of fitness, but that the general safety and road-worthiness of your car has been checked, including the tyres”.

"Insurance claims can be declined after an accident, because the car was considered to be unsafe or un-roadworthy – even when it has a current warrant.”

In one complaint investigated by the IFSO Scheme, a claim was declined because the “almost bald” tread on one tyre was considered to be not safe or roadworthy, and a cause of the accident.

“A warrant is primarily a road safety measure at the time of inspection,” says Karen. “However, car owners have a responsibility to ensure their car is safe and roadworthy at all times, and that includes regularly inspecting the tyres."

To avoid the double disappointment of a declined insurance claim, should anything go wrong, we urge travellers to take these steps:

1. Read your insurance policy
Understand what you are covered for. Take note of the policy exclusions and limitations.

2. Check your car before you travel
Make sure your car has a warrant, and check its “road-worthiness”, including the tyres.

3. "Lock it or lose it" on your road trip
If you fail to take reasonable care by leaving your car unlocked, windows down, or your handbag or valuables visible - and something is stolen - insurers can decline a claim.

4. Comply with your driver licence conditions
Driving “in breach” of your licence is grounds to decline a claim. “Parents often end up paying for the damage, not only to their own car, but to another car, if they allow their son or daughter to drive outside their learner or restricted licence conditions and an accident occurs,” says Karen.

5. Take note of alcohol driving limits
There are insurance, as well as legal, consequences for driving over the limit. “Be aware of the new alcohol limits,” says Karen. “If you’re over the limit and an accident happens, you won’t be covered.”

Take care and enjoy your break!