• Most cellphone insurance policies include a proviso that if you change your number and SIM card, or even move to a different network, you have to inform your insurer.
  • The senior assistant-ombud for short-term insurance says insurers can decline your claims if you don't do that. 
  • Cellphone-related complaints against insurers are on the increase, new numbers show.
  • For more, go to Business Insider SA.

If you changed your cellphone number, your insurer may refuse to pay out when your phone is later damaged or stolen.

This proviso is contained in most cellphone insurance policy documents, but many consumers don’t pick up on it – until it is too late, warns Ayanda Mazwi, senior assistant ombud at the Ombudsman for Short-Term Insurance (OSTI).

These policies require that you inform the insurer if you change your number and SIM card, or even just move to a different network, says Mazwi.

There is usually one specific number linked to a device.

See also: These are South Africa's worst insurers, measured by client complaints

This is because the insurers’ own actuarial calculations found that changing numbers may be linked to fraudulent claims, she adds.

If you don’t inform the insurer of the number change, your claims may be declined.

Mazwi says the ombud is receiving an increasing number of complaints related to cellphone insurance claims. For example, many people just assume that their new phones will automatically be insured after an upgrade, which is not the case.

On Tuesday, the ombud released its report for 2018, which showed that it received almost 10,000 complaints in total from South African insurance clients.

Like the issue with cellphone numbers, many of these disputes could have been avoided by the careful reading of an insurance policy. In fact, more than a third of all complaints have to do with policy exclusions or warranties, says Mazwi.

With car insurance, a common example is with "named driver" policies where the insured did not understand that the policy was underwritten to only cover persons listed on the policy schedule.

A claim involving an unnamed driver may be declined.

The ombud does, however, demand that the insurer demonstrates that their clients were made aware of these exclusions and warranties, and that they were relevant to the circumstances of the loss, says Mazwi.

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