There has been a big fall in drunk-driving insurance disputes — here's why

Business Insider SA
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  • Complaints about vehicle insurance claims represent almost half of all disputes referred to the Ombudsman for Short-Term Insurance.
  • There was a 15% fall in disputes related to driving under the influence of alcohol.
  • The burden of proving that a driver was drunk rests on the insurer.
  • For more, go to Business Insider SA.

Almost half of the disputes between clients and insurance companies involve car insurance, the new annual report from the Ombudsman for Short-Term Insurance (OSTI) shows.

The ombud’s office released its annual report for 2018 on Tuesday, which showed that 48% of the almost 10,000 complaints that it received from insurance clients, were for vehicle insurance claims. Out of all the vehicle insurance disputes, only 18% were resolved in favour of the insured.

The majority of complaints (74%) were to do with clients being unhappy about accidental damage claims. Warranty and mechanical breakdown claims comprised 9%, while theft and hijack claims comprised 8%, down from 9% in 2017.

There was a sharp 15% fall in the number of disputes about claims that were rejected due to driving under the influence of alcohol.

There could be a number of reasons for this, says Ayanda Mazwi, senior assistant ombud.

It could be that there were fewer claims in total, as more consumers may be adopting responsible practices.

“Clients have become accustomed to booking the ‘take me home’ service',” offered by some insurers," says Mazwi.

In addition, the growing popularity of ehailing services like Uber and Bolt (previously known as Taxify) may have made a difference.

The ombud’s office has also been campaigning to make consumers aware of their rights and obligations when it comes to the impact of driving under the influence of alcohol.

“The burden of proving that a driver was drunk rests on the insurer. If circumstantial evidence is used, it must be strong enough to prove that the driver was inebriated, and that there was a clear link with the accident”, says Mazwi.

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