In 2013 The International Transport Forum’s (ITF) Road Safety Annual Report, ranked South Africa the worst, out of 36 others, when it came to the number of road fatalities.

A car accident can be a traumatic and scary experience, making it difficult to know what to do after it happens. It’s important to act quickly to ensure that everyone involved is safe.

The driver, or passengers, should check for injuries and fatalities, as well as damage to any third party. After establishing the wellbeing of those involved, it is important to call the police and other emergency services to inform them that an accident has occurred.

Until the police arrive it is crucial that any vehicles involved in the accident are not moved and as far as possible anyone with injuries are also not moved.

Stay calm and obtain as many details as possible from the other party. These include the make, model and registration of the vehicle. Also obtain details on the driver of the vehicle, including their drivers licence, telephone number, insurance company details.

Record any other details you think may be relevant e.g. if you think the driver of the other vehicle was using a mobile phone, or appeared to have been drinking, etc.

Never admit or accept liability for an accident. Any fault and / or liability issues remain the responsibility of the insurance company to establish through investigative means. There is no skulduggery about this – it’s purely for practical and realistic reasons; namely that when one is in an accident, (1) the shock at times causes one not to think clearly and (2) aggressive driver behaviour may cause one to admit liability when in actual fact, the opposite may be true and (3) each driver involved has his/her own version of events. Once you have admitted liability, this prejudices your Insurer if it is found through investigation that it actually wasn’t your fault.

It is important to take down the details of the towing company and the name of the panel beater to which your car will be towed to. Remember, it is your right to select your tow operator and no tow operator can force you to make use of their service.

Please note that there may be a penalty or limits applied when making use of any other towing operator that is not stipulated in your insurance contract.

If possible take photos of the accident scene, before the vehicle is towed away.

It is also crucial that you report the accident to the nearest police station and obtain an Accident Report number. Subsequently inform your Broker with full details of the accident.

If a third party is involved and/or passengers are injured: Third Party insurance covers you against claims made by others against you. For example, if it is proven that you were the cause of an accident involving another vehicle (third party), your Third Party insurance will cover any costs you may be liable for. These include costs relating to death, injury and damage, as well as any legal costs that could be claimed from you.

If you do receive any claim from a third party, please pass the correspondence on to your Broker immediately as there is a time limit within which you can claim.

Do keep emergency numbers at hand, as certain insurance providers do have Roadside and Home assistance as a benefit to your insurance policy subject to relevant limits and exclusions. If you are a Scottfin client who has a Scottfin Select Domestic Policy and this cover is reflected as included on your Schedule of Insurance, then you simply need to phone 0860 222 376. Kindly note that this number will be operative effective 1 July 2015.

While it is important to keep all of this in mind, first prize is to avoid being involved in an accident. Before departing on any long journey, it is vital to check that the brakes are in good working order, that the tread on all tyres are well above the legal limit of 2mm, keep to the speed limits and make sure that you get enough sleep before you travel.

Visibility is also key when driving, so check that the windscreen wipers, brake lights, indicators and headlights are all in good working condition; make sure that any luggage does not block the rear view and that all packed items are secured.

We do hope that the pointers were helpful.

Should you require more information on how your short term insurance portfolio can be tailor made to suit your needs, we kindly invite you to contact Marius Marais at the Scottfin Scottburgh office.