The Ombudsman for Short-Term Insurance says that consumers have a duty to disclose relevant information and any material changes in circumstance, to their insurers to avoid the possibility of having their claim repudiated or the policy cancelled.
Consumers must be aware of the difference between a “regular driver” and a “nominated driver” in terms of an insurance policy as there is a distinct difference. Most car insurance policies are underwritten on the basis of either of these descriptions and these concepts are used to assess the risk associated with the insurance of a particular vehicle and the premium to be charged. The identity and profile of the driver of a motor vehicle is obviously an important factor in determining both the risk and the premium.
Policies that are underwritten on a “regular” driver basis usually allow the insured to use their own discretion when allowing others to drive the vehicle. These drivers can be any person with a valid, non-endorsed driver’s license. The regular driver would be the person who uses the vehicle most frequently and more than any other driver. The regular driver may not necessarily be the owner of the vehicle. The secondary driver may not be a person that drives the vehicle on a more regular basis than the “regular driver”. It is vitally important that consumers correctly identify the regular driver on their policy in instances where more than one person will drive a motor vehicle, as failure to do so could result in the repudiation of a claim based on misrepresentation or non-disclosure and the policy can be declared void from inception.
A “nominated driver” policy, on the other hand, only gives cover to persons who are actually nominated and recorded as a nominated driver on the policy of insurance. Any person who is not nominated and recorded, as a nominated driver on the policy schedule will not be covered in the event of a claim.
The Ombudsman says that consumers should take heed of the fact that if a vehicle is incorrectly insured or incorrect information is furnished to an insurer concerning either a regular driver or a nominated driver; this can result in a policy being declared void from inception, or the insurer having no liability to compensate for any loss or damage.
If the “regular driver” changes or the place of residence changes this could affect the risk of the insurer and it is for this reason that they should be notified immediately such a change takes place. It stands to reason if you consider the difference between a parent, living in a small country town who is noted as the “regular driver” according to the policy, when in fact the car is driven on a daily basis by a young university student living in the centre of Cape Town. The risk exposure is substantially higher and the premium would be adjusted accordingly. If the insurer is not made aware of the change when it occurs and afforded the opportunity to re-assess the risk, then the insurance company can not be held liable in the event of a claim.
If consumers are in any doubt as to whether their motor vehicle is correctly insured or not, they should seek professional advice from a licensed broker, insurance advisor or attorney prior to taking out the policy. This will avoid many problems that could arise at a later stage.