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How to reduce your insurance premiums

Nov 06 2016 06:02
Neesa Moodley

Johannesburg - According to the latest Momentum/Unisa South African Household Wealth Index, the ability of South African households to buy durable goods and repay their debts has worsened considerably over the past year.

The decline in households’ net wealth – which is the value of their assets minus their liabilities – means that a growing number of households struggle to maintain their current lifestyles and find it increasingly difficult to recover from unexpected shock expenses, such as the cost of medical treatment, a car accident or theft.

All of this means that insurance has an increasingly important role to play when it comes to ensuring your finances remain stable.

If you are battling to manage your finances and you miss a payment without meaning to, it is worth noting that, under the Long-Term Insurance Act, you are allowed a 15-day grace period within which to pay.

Mark van der Watt, CEO of Life Insurance Solutions at MMI Holdings, says that although the minimum grace period in the act is 15 days, many insurers (including Momentum) have a longer grace period (30 days).

“If you become disabled or die during the grace period, and your premiums were up to date otherwise, the claim will still be honoured.

"The premium will simply be deducted from the payment,” he says.

The same process would apply for your short-term insurance.

Gustav Jenkins, divisional director for product management at Liberty Individual Arrangements, says that although Liberty has a 30-day grace period before terminating the cover, in some instances the cover will only be terminated up to 55 days later.

Graham Craggs, spokesperson for Budget Insurance, notes that Budget Insurance offers you free premium waiver cover for six months if you are unable to pay your premium due to retrenchment or dread disease.

“This means your insurance premiums will be covered for up to six months, without your policy being cancelled, while you get back on your feet financially,” he says.

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO REDUCE YOUR PREMIUM

We rounded up some key advice from the industry on what steps you can take to reduce your premium so that you can save on your budget and maintain your insurance cover at the same time.

Short-term insurance:

. Revise your excess: An excess, or deductible, is the amount that you have to pay whenever you make a claim on your policy.

This amount is deducted from the total amount paid out from the insurer following a claim.

Increasing your excess is one way to reduce your premium.

It would, however, mean that a higher amount would need to be funded by you in the event of a claim.

It is then important to keep in mind that you would need savings or other funding to cover the increased excess if you need to submit a claim.

. Consolidate your insurance: There are often savings available through having all your valuable assets covered with one insurer rather than many.

Having car, household and building insurance with the same insurer typically results in a lower total premium.

. Adopt safer driving habits: Drivers who avoid dangerous situations on the road and abide by the road laws are less likely to be involved in accidents and smash-and-grab incidents.

These behaviours, which are gauged by the Momentum Safety Score, could lead to an annual cash-back benefit of up to 20% of your short-term insurance premiums, even if you claim.

. Increase your security: Your car, home or building insurance premium is calculated based on your risk profile.

Craggs says your risk profile is based on a number of things, such as where you live, the type of car you drive and the security measures you have in place.

“You could reduce your car insurance premium if you’ve fitted your car with additional safety features such as a tracking device or an alarm, for example.

"Similarly, you could receive a reduction on your home insurance premium if you’ve invested in an alarm system for your home or if you’ve moved to a safer neighbourhood,” he says.

Long-term insurance:

. Rewards programmes: Life insurers are now prepared to reward you for exhibiting behaviour that reduces their risk.

For example, if you are active and healthy, you are less likely to get sick or die from health complications.

Van der Watt says Momentum Multiply clients can qualify for life insurance premium discounts of anything from 5% to 60%.

. Revise your premium payment: Look at different ways to pay for your cover.

For example, instead of paying a level premium, you could choose a premium that increases every year (for example, by 5%). This makes premiums more affordable in the short term.

If you choose this route, ensure that premiums do not become unaffordable in the future (especially if increases are greater than inflation).

. Revisit loadings: If you had a loading or an increased premium on your policy as a result of health conditions or dangerous pursuits, you could approach your insurer to reconsider the premium if your health has improved significantly or you no longer take part in the dangerous hobby.

. Healthy lifestyle: Smokers are generally charged more for life insurance than non-smokers.

If you smoked previously and have since stopped, insurers often reduce the premium (as long as you haven’t smoked for a specific period, for example six months).

Premiums for smokers can be significantly more expensive.

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