Buying Motor Insurance? Five points you must remember
A Punchy Headline
Motor Insurance… it’s something you hope you never need. However, it sure helps to have the most effective one, just in case you ever require to fall back on it.
Today, faster than ever, the road network is expanding, the duration of drives are becoming longer, and the average speeds are heading north. All very welcome prospects, if you’re someone who wants to get behind the wheels and enjoy your drive. Fortunately, the rapid advancement in safety technology has meant that cars are becoming safer for passengers. At the same time, high speed on the highways, and increasing congestion in the cities, also mean more chances of an accident happening. To give you a perspective, in the year 2020, despite Covid and restricted movement, the number touched 3,66,138 accidents resulting in 1,31,714 lives lost, and left 3,48,279 injured. The number of reported road accidents in the previous calendar year 2019, were at a massive 4,49,002 accidents; and, the year 2018 stood at 4,67,044.
Despite these high accident numbers, the proactiveness while choosing the right insurance policy for our vehicles seem to be abysmally low. For a majority of us, buying/renewing our motor vehicle policy is mostly on an auto-pilot mode where we go by whatever is being suggested to us, and even if we’re being offered different plans, we choose the lowest premium cost. That defines exactly how one should NOT buy an insurance policy.
Another big blunder that most of us make while choosing motor vehicle insurance is making the assumption that ‘nothing wrong will happen to me’. This should not dictate the choice of your motor vehicle insurance. In a very telling statistic that emerged from a survey carried out last year by Future Generali India Insurance, in motor insurance, more than 80 per cent of the respondents were married males and were primary earning members in their families. Did you know that such a large number of primary earning members of an Indian family take motor insurance? Therefore, while you should always hope and pray that nothing does go wrong indeed, intelligent people plan for a scenario where you might need to fall back on your insurance policy.
Be it at the time you renew your policy or while buying a new vehicle, make sure you keep the following five things in mind:
1. Pay close attention to the adds-on on offer, and limits if any
While deciding on the policy, always enquire on the add-ons being offered. Today, owing to the competitive landscape companies offer various add-ons (with or without setting limits) to attract customers. For instance, some companies set a limit for reimbursing the amount for key replacement, if you were to lose your keys. These days for some of the cars, lost keys can set you back by thousands, if not more, so a limit for key replacement can mean setting yourself back by quite a lot, despite having insurance. Then there are other issues you need to enquire about like limits on tyre cover or even hotel accommodation, if one was to meet an accident on the highway.
2. Assess claim services: Vast network and tech integration
When everyone is facing paucity of time, it’s imperative that you enquire about the reach of the networks, should you need to fall back on it, and if the processes (claims and others) are seamlessly integrated through technology. A vast network means you always have help at hand close by. Especially in times of an emergency, having help at a distance means no help at all. You don’t want to be getting into going somewhere or submitting documents through snail mail, definitely not in these days of seamless technology.
3. When it comes to pricing, cheaper is not always better!
A huge number of people make the mistake of going by the cost of premium while deciding which policy to buy. As our elders always said, this is a perfect example of being ‘penny-wise-pound-foolish’. Either enquire or find out things like discounts offered towards comprehensive insurance or add-ons to arrive at the best policy for you. There are options where some crucial add-on might have been left out or a limit might have been put, which in turn decreases the premium. Plan not to save hundreds but safeguard against expenses of thousands and lakhs while choosing your policy.
4. Higher the claim handled, better the experience
It’s important for you to look at the portfolio size of the company you’re purchasing insurance from. These days with the insurance sector seeing new entrants regularly, it’s important to either do your assessment with regards to ease of claim settlement or just go with the belief that the higher the volumes handled by a company, better are the chances of them handling a claim settlement better.
5. Look for additional services
Additional services are equally important as claims. While zeroing in on a policy, and to differentiate between two policies which cost the same, look for services like change of address if you were to change your house in the same city or another; enabling endorsement for any addition/alteration to your car, like amplifiers/speakers/lights; or even getting NCB certificates issued at the time of selling your car. These are good distinguishers to have and are likely to come in handy in the long run.
And, lastly, today, when we are tempted by various online portals selling policies at the click of a button, it’s important that you just don’t get swayed by the ease of getting the policy. It’s important to look for effective support, so that in case you need to get in touch with the company for post sales services, you are able to avail quality support both in terms of domain knowledge and transactional. If you have a trusted broker or an expert who can handhold you, it’s always better than talking to a call-centre voice from some part of the world!