Stay safe and insured this Easter: Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman

23 March 2016

Easter roads can be treacherous. “Driving carefully and taking care on the roads is the most important thing," says Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman Karen Stevens. “But we also recommend that travellers try to avoid the possibility of declined insurance claims, should anything go wrong.”

The IFSO Scheme has seen a rise in complaints over the past three months. “We’re pleased to hear from more consumers who have issues and questions about insurance or financial services. Our service is free and independent, and we are here to help.” From December to February, the IFSO Scheme received 687 complaint enquiries, and accepted 68 complaints for investigation.

“Unfortunately, some of the most common complaints we deal with could have been avoided,” says Karen. “We urge people to take note of these Easter tips, based on real complaints to the IFSO Scheme.”

Easter tips from the Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman

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

2. Lock your house
Most insurance policies exclude cover for theft from unlocked premises. Taking “reasonable care” is a standard obligation on every policy. Let your neighbours know you’re away and leave sensor lights on.

3. Check your car before you travel
Make sure your car has a warrant, and check the “road-worthiness” of your car, including the tyres. Claims can be declined after an accident, because the car was found to be unsafe or un-roadworthy – even if it had a warrant. Tyres with a low tread, for example, can contribute to accidents; an insurer can decline a claim if the car is in any way unwarrantable.

4. ‘Lock it or lose it’ on your road trip
Leaving your car unlocked, windows down, or your handbag or valuables visible are grounds for insurers to decline a claim if you fail to take reasonable care.

5. Comply with your licence conditions
If you are driving “in breach” of your licence, you won’t be covered under any circumstances. “Parents often end up paying for the damage, not only to their own car, but to another car or property, if they allow their son or daughter to drive outside their learner or restricted licence conditions and an accident occurs,” says Karen. Common breaches include: driving with passengers on a learner or restricted driver’s licence, or driving between 10pm and 5am on a restricted driver’s licence, without a supervisor.

6. 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. “In a recent case, the claimant was over the limit of 250 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath, but under the old limit of 400 micrograms. He argued that, as he was under the legal limit at the date of policy renewal, he should have insurance for the damage to his car. But the legal limit applied at the time of the accident, not the policy renewal, and he had no cover.”

Take care and enjoy your Easter break!