A cautionary tale…
To most of us, insurance is about as exciting as the prospect of sharing a sauna with Clive Palmer… and you’ve just noticed he ain’t wearing a towel.
Yep, paying a company money in the hope that you never have to use its services may seem a bit screwy, but it’s a necessity these days. Most of us will have at least one insurance policy, if not multiple policies; so we all really should be paying the subject more attention – even though there’s a bit of a perception that dealing with certain insurers will require a hot shower and some scrubbing with the steel wool to get the slime off afterwards.
To be fair though, while this is warranted in some cases, in the majority of instances it’s not actually the insurer who is doing the dodgy – but rather the claimant. For every shady claim paid out, premiums go up. And you and I are effectively being penalised for the fraudulent activities of others. Hardly seems fair does it – so how do you avoid this from happening?
We’re glad you asked…
The devil is in the detail
It may sound obvious, but read through the fine print before you sign anything. It’s a contract you’re signing and the last thing you want is to find out you’re not covered when you just lost a wheel 150km out of Karratha. Chances are, given you’re reading this mag, you like driving off-road. Having insurance that won’t cover you when off-road seems a little redundant, doesn’t it?
The truth shall set you free
In researching this article, we spoke to a few insurance mobs and got their tips on how to minimise the slug to the hip pocket. The overwhelming response was: “Don’t lie on the application form.”
While this may seem obvious to most folks, there are people out there who will conveniently forget about those 14 accidents they were in last year in an effort to lower their premium. Of course, as soon as they make a claim, any insurer worth its salt will run things like background checks, and ‘proof of ownership’ of any accessories, and ask all sorts of other questions. They may do this upfront or in the event of a claim; but either way, if you tell fibs you will eventually be caught out. Then two things will happen:
You’re about to lose a bunch of money
The first thing is, unsurprisingly, that the insurer will not pay out your claim – leaving you to foot the bill for any damage or theft (which will most likely be a fair chunk of cash).
One story we heard from an industry insider was about the bloke with the well-decked HiLux. He’d spent over $25K over the past three years modifying it to suit his needs. Canopy, 12V gear, barwork, lift… the works. After receiving a renewal letter in the mail from his insurer, this guy decided to shop around to see what else was on offer (nothing wrong with that, in fact it’s probably a good idea). So he sat down on the couch and started getting some online quotes. Eventually he found someone who would insure his 4X4 with coverage for all of his mods, as well as off-road coverage and a few other policy benefits.
The only thing was, after doing three quotes in the last half-hour, he was a bit sick of all the questions so he decided to answer ‘no’ to the questions about prior claims to get it through quicker and hopefully get a cheaper premium to boot.
You know where this is going, right?
Sure enough, a few months down the track Old Mate was in an accident. His insurer did its thing and checked to see if he’d had any previous claims. The insurer found that he’d had four prior claims that he’d neglected to mention. The insurer informed him that he would have been ineligible for his policy after only three prior claims.
If he had only been honest back on the couch, he wouldn’t now be staring down the barrel of a $10K repair bill. Despite posting about his experience on social media, he didn’t have much choice but to foot the bill himself.
Moral of the story? Tell the bloody truth on your insurance forms! If you lie you’re going to come unstuck; and it’s a matter of when, not if.
Want another example?
We heard abut another bloke, a Ranger owner this time, who had built his ute up to the tune of about $20K worth of accessories. As you can imagine, it was a pretty schmick work truck. Unfortunately, while working at his job as a tradie, he decided to leave the keys in the car (doors unlocked, canopy open). You guessed it: While working inside the property he came back out to grab a tool and poof! No Ranger in sight.
Now (as you do), he reported it to the police – telling them he’d left the keys in the car. He then called his insurer to report the theft, but he decided to tell the insurer that the keys had been in his pocket and he’d inadvertently lost them on the jobsite.
Now, because he didn’t read his contract, he was unaware that one of the clauses stipulated that he must secure the vehicle when unattended (which is a fairly standard clause in the majority of policies).
As soon as the insurance people received the police report and noticed the difference in the stories, they opted not to pay him out.
Two examples of how reading the contract and being honest will only help you in the long run. Don’t be like Mr HiLux and Mr Ranger.
Doing the right thing?
It can still cost you…
The second thing that will happen when people are dishonest on their insurance applications is that premiums will inevitably go up. Got a mate who told you how smart he is by successfully fraudulently claiming on his insurance? Give him a swift uppercut, because those claims will only cause your premium to rise. That’s the way EVERY insurer operates, so there’s no getting away from it. Just be truthful from the start. And for the love of crumb cake, read the policy through completely. You’re only gaining a bunch of heartache and likely losing a tonne of money by trying to game the system.