What about my excess if I am not at fault?

Your excess paid is an un-insurable amount payable by you in the event of a valid claim.

The recovery of an excess is the same as any legal process. Insurers will always try to recovery and because they are doing this anyway we as brokers normally allow them to add your excess to their claim. This saves you on legal costs and time. In terms of your policy you subrogate your rights to the insurer. This puts them in the position to defend you against any legal action against you and in your favour.  There is a lot of misunderstanding around the payment of an excess.  You are advised of this excess upfront so that you will always know what portion of the claim you are liable for. This excess is due irrespective of was the fault. In South Africa only one in 4 vehicles are insured. This is not anyone's fault however it makes it difficult for insurers to recover losses. 

This process is therefore not simple by any means. To issue summons against a third party for a small amount also not viable. One cannot spend more money on legal fees than the value of the actual claim. Legal fees are expensive and insurers therefore normally have their own legal department to deal with these matters in a more economic manner.

There is absolutely no guarantee that an excess will be recovered. One will find that there may be many reasons for people not insuring their vehicles but mostly it is because they simply cannot afford it. It is therefore very difficult to get money out of any individual if they don’t have any. (Ref – Ombudsman for short term insurance)

The insurer and innocent party both suffer as a result of so many uninsured parties. 

It Is a case of the few has to pay the claims of the many.  This obviously has a negative impact on the entire industry.


What to do after a vehicle accident

As anyone who has ever been in a vehicle accident will tell you, it is a shocking and stressful experience especially if you have been injured, or have injured someone else and it’s not always easy to think rationally .  That’s why our insurers put together this guide that you can print out and keep it in your car’s glove compartment.  This way, if you are involved in an accident, you will know what steps to follow to ensure the best possible outcome.   


  • Stop your car immediately – if you think there may be injuries, or damage to other vehicles or property, stop straight away. It is an offence not to stop. 
  • Make sure the scene is safe – switch your car off and turn on your hazard lights to alert oncoming traffic about the accident. 
  • Stay calm – try to remain calm and not panic while you wait for help to arrive.  
  • Don’t accept liability – Be careful not to take the blame for any incident until you have spoken to your insurer. Instead of saying ‘Sorry, this was my fault’ – first speak to your insurance partner, submit the relevant documentation and let them investigate the incident. 
  • Call the police – if someone is injured, the collision has caused a dangerous situation, or someone leaves the scene without exchanging details, call the police immediately.  If the accident was minor and there were no injuries, but you have damage to your vehicle, it must be reported to the police within 24 hours.  You will not be able to claim from your insurer unless you have a police case number. 
  • Exchange information and take photo’s on your mobile phone, especially of registration plates and licence discs. Taking photos of where each car landed after an impact will be most useful to your insurers. By law, all parties involved in an accident must exchange details.  Ask the other driver for their name, ID number, address, telephone numbers (try to get a home number as well as a mobile phone number) and their insurance details. You must also provide this information to them.  In addition, 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.  


Make note of the details – always make sure you have a pen and paper in your glove compartment so that you can write down the details of the accident, including:


  • Date, time and place the accident occurred
  • The other vehicles’ make, model and colour, registration number/s
  • Details of the owner of the other motor vehicle, if not the driver – i.e. name,  address and telephone numbers (home/work/cell).
  • Name, address and telephone numbers (home/work/cell) of any witnesses.
  • Name of police or traffic officer, if present, and their police station.
  • Name/telephone number of the towing operator.


If you can, make a sketch of the scene, or, if your mobile phone has a camera, take pictures of the road layout, the position of the vehicles, skid marks, collision points and the damage caused. 


  • Notify your insurance company – you must notify your broker immediately of any accident you have been involved in, regardless of whether or not a claim is to be made or whose fault it was. Give them all the details, notes, photographs etc. 
  • If your car is not drivable, ensure that only the 24 hour emergency tow line is contacted to arrange the up-liftment of your vehicle.  VERY IMPORTANT - DO NOT LET ANY TOWING OPERATOR TAKE YOUR VEHCILE AS YOU MAY BE LIABLE FOR THE TOWING AND STORAGE COST IF YOU DO NOT MAKE USE OF THE 24 HOUR EMERGENCY CALL CENTRE.


Other important information

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 us immediately, so that we can deal with it on your behalf (in accordance with your policy contract and provided that the terms of your policy have been met).
Our Insurers have dedicated teams available to deal with third party claims. This team also specialises in the recovery of the cost of repairs, including your excess, should the accident have been caused by the other driver.

**NB. As mentioned above, it is important that you not accept any liability until you have reported the incident to us. 


If your vehicle is a total loss/write-off:
Once we have established that your vehicle cannot be repaired, a Claims Negotiator will contact you with the details of what to do next and what documentation is required to settle your claim.


If your vehicle is stolen or hijacked:
If we are unable to recover your vehicle, our Claims Department will let you know what to do next and what documents we need in order to settle your claim as quickly as possible.


Know your rights!
If you are unlucky enough to be involved in an accident you can expect a host of tow trucks to arrive, all clamouring to be the one to tow your vehicle away!  Worse still, you could find a police officer advising or insisting that you choose a particular tow operator to clear the accident scene.  Here’s what you should know:


  • No towing operator or police officer has the right to force you to make use of a specific towing operator.
  • Should a police officer attempt to force you to make use of a particular towing operator, a charge can be laid against the officer at the nearest police station. In this case, make sure you take note of the officer’s details.
  • The responsibility for moving any obstruction to traffic rests with the police department, not the towing operator.


What should you do?

As a Ethico client visit our emergency contact number page. As comprehensive motor vehicle policyholder, you automatically have access 24 a hour towing service.  If your car is not drivable, you should call the emergency number as stated on the page . Should you not have access to this please call your broker or our office on 0861 070 070.
(Note:  even if your motor vehicle is only insured with us for Third Party, Fire and Theft or Third Party only, our insurers will continue to assist you.  However, the towing costs will be for your own account, subject to your policy terms and conditions