The silly season has come and gone, but heavy drinking and drinking and driving continues to plague South Africans from all walks of life, affecting thousands, long after the holiday period is a distant memory.

If you feel that a couple of beers or a few glasses of wine over a business lunch and then getting behind the wheel is a harmless activity think again – endangering not only yourself but other motorists is never harmless with the consequences often being dire.

Did you know that at night one in every seven drivers on the roads in South Africa are drunk? Six out of ten drivers will die in accidents and have high blood alcohol levels and almost 3 000 adult pedestrians are killed every year and of these at least 70% are drunk at the time when they die.

Five Things You Need To Know About Insurance Cover and Drinking:

  • What happens if you refuse to be tested – if you are the driver of a vehicle and refuse to be tested for drinking, did you know that your insurance service provider can refuse to settle your claim? 
  • How your insurance premiums will be affected if you are a heavy drinker – did you know that heavy drinkers usually pay higher premiums for life insurance as they are thought as having poorer health. When you take out a life policy the insurer will ask you exactly how much alcohol you consume as well as your alcohol history. Each one is assessed individually; men usually pay a higher premium if they have more than three drinks daily and women more than two a day. Typically a history of drunk driving and medical advice regarding drinking will affect your premiums.
  • Refuted claims – even if you have third-party cover, an insurance service provider can refuse to pay out for an accident claim if you are over the legal alcohol limit when being involved in an accident. This will result in you having to cough up and cover all the costs on your own, whether this is damage to your own vehicle and that of the other party as well as all medical costs. The Road Accident Fund can also refuse to pay out for claims for an accident when someone has been drinking and driving.
  • Drinking will affect your insurance cover. Most individuals are not aware that drinking affects insurance cover. If you drink and drive you are acting unlawfully and if you are involved in an accident your insurance company may decline your claim even if you were not in the wrong. On the other hand if your insurance company does pay you out for your claim then your insurance will in all probability be loaded because you will be considered to be a high risk client. It might be a good idea to find out how much is the legal limit before you take the risk of driving while under the influence.
  • No cover. If you apply for life cover and are considered to be high risk you might be asked to take a liver test. Your premium will then be calculated according to your risk and how serious your liver damage is. Severe liver damage could result in your life cover being turned down.

When taking out insurance you have to be 100% honest – if you have not told the truth there is a chance that your insurance claim can be refuted.