Drinking alcohol and driving is known to be responsible for at least 40% of road traffic accidents in South Africa. During festive periods, drunk driving is believed to contribute to as many as 7 in 10 road traffic accidents. Despite the known dangers of drinking and driving, many South African drivers continue to indulge in alcohol and get behind the wheel.
Like most South African drivers, you know the risks of drinking and driving. You can sustain permanent injuries or may even kill other road users and face criminal action. However, you may not have been aware of the fact that drunk driving can also affect your car insurance claim. Your insurer can reject a claim if it is ascertained that an accident occurred while you were under the influence of alcohol.
Drunk Driving and Road Accidents
It is important to read your car insurance policy carefully. There are certain instances where you insurer will refuse to pay out if there is conclusive evidence that you are negligent. Even if your negligence is not the actual cause of the accident, you will still experience difficulties when it is time to claim.
For example, your insurer may refuse to pay out on an accident claim if your car tyres are smooth. Insurers clearly state that you must maintain your vehicle in a roadworthy condition at all times for the vehicle to be covered. Tyres with low tread are known to affect your vehicle’s performance so this is grounds to reject a claim.
The same applies to alcohol consumption.
When you drink alcohol and then drive, you are being negligent. Your ability to control s vehicle while under the influence of alcohol is compromised. You have knowingly put your vehicle at risk, just as much to you have done to yourself and other road users. You have increased your risk of having an accident. Insurers will take this into consideration when assessing a claim.
Why can insurers refuse claims for driving drunk?
Your insurer can not be held responsible for an action that you have taken which increases your accident risk. As part of your car insurance cover, it was expected that you will operate your vehicle without being compromised in any way. Alcohol compromises your mental and physical faculties. You are therefore not practicing safe driving behaviour.
Even if the accident was not your fault, you may still have encounter difficulty at the time of claiming. Your insurer can insist that your ability to prevent or avoid the accident was impaired by your intoxication. Apart from facing the legal consequences of drunk driving, you will also have to deal with the financial implications of a rejected claim.
Consequences Of Driving Under The Influence
The consequences of alcohol drinking and driving is obvious. You may sustain serious injuries, be hospitalised for long periods and even harm other road users. Drunk driving also has financial consequences. Think of the loss of income when you are hospitalised. What about the financial impact if you are permanently disabled?
Consider the possibility of being sued by other road users who were injured as a consequence of your drinking and driving. Even the public liability of your cover may not pay out if it can be proven that you were drunk when driving. In the worst case scenario, a road user could lose their life and you could face jail time.
Let us assume that these horrendous outcomes do not occur. You were driving drunk and have just a minor fender bender where nobody was hurt. You are still going to be liable for the financial implications of your accident.
it may have to come out of your own pocket if your insurer refuses to pay for your accident claim because you were driving drunk. This means that you will have to pay for your own vehicle repairs. You will also have to pay the other party involved in the incident. With vehicle repairs being so costly, that extra beer could plunge you in financial hardship for months or even years to come.