South African roads are known to claim about 14,000 lives a year in road traffic accidents and leaves some 150,000 people injured. During the festive periods, the death toll sometimes exceeds 1,000 people and there is no denying that this is one of the major national issues during the holidays. If you have met in an accident and need treatment, you should not depend on your car insurance to pay for the full extent of your medical needs particularly in hospital. While comprehensive car insurance does have a medical benefit, it is small and will not be able to meet the exorbitant costs of private hospitalisation. Do not rely on the Road Accident Fund (RAF) either to cover your medical bills in hospital. Most private hospitals in South Africa want to see a medical aid or a large cash deposit or you are sent off to a government hospital once you are stabilised.
Car Insurance Medical Cover
If you have opted for comprehensive car insurance, you may notice that there is a benefit for medical cover in your policy. Be careful, This cannot replace a medical aid. This medical cover in your car insurance policy is part of what is known as the convenience benefits. It is the insurance provider’s way of protecting you and making you comfortable should there be an event such as an accident. No doctor or private hospital in South Africa will accept this medical cover as a replacement for a medical aid or as a security for your hospital admission deposit. Convenience benefits are just a helpful gesture on the part of your car insurance to reimburse you to a some extent for the financial inconvenience you have suffered during a car accident, hijacking or vehicle theft.
Medical Costs in Hospital
South Africans are well aware of the exorbitant private healthcare costs in the country. Nobody really wants to be languishing in a government hospitals as most of these facilities are crowded and understaffed. When you are in a car accident, you may not be able to speak for yourself. If the emergency services personnel cannot find any sign of medical aid, they may rush you off to a government facility. Even if you are able to speak for yourself, you will not be guaranteed admission into a private hospital. It is a matter of money and private hospitals will not take the risk of admitting victims who cannot pay for the medical care. At most a private hospital will stabilise a patient within the emergency room and have an ambulance transport a person to the nearest government hospital, whether they are conscious or not.
A car accident can really impact on a person financially. Not only will they be liable for the medical costs of their injuries but there is also the issue of being unable to work and possibly sustaining a loss of income. You cannot depend on the Road Accident Fund (RAF) and by the time you get around to legal action and recovery of costs from the person who caused the accident, you will be heavily in arrears with debt collectors for the hospital knocking on your door. A medical aid is therefore essential and cannot be replace by the medical cover offered in the convenience benefits of your car insurance policy.
Benefits of Medical Payout
Comprehensive car insurance offers two different limits for medical benefits. One is for you and your family members who were passengers in the vehicle and sustained injuries in the car accident. There is a payout per person but it is limited to a specific amount per event. The other smaller limit is for passengers in the vehicle who are not your family members. There may also be an additional trauma benefit. However, do not get misled by these benefits. They are miniscule when compared to the medical costs you can accrue within just a few days in a private hospital. It is not just about the bed and hospital stay but also the tests, scans and doctor’s fees. Remember to speak to your insurance provider because not all car insurance companies may have this type of convenience benefit for medical care or it may not be available on the policy that you have chosen.