In South Africa, most insurers offer their policyholders the benefit of emergency road-side services such as tow-in assistance following a mechanical or electrical breakdown, jump start service, tyre-change assistance. But what if it’s a case of mechanical part failure? What cover is there to help one?
When one drives a new or relatively new model car they usually get a warranty with the vehicle and often either a service or maintenance plan. It is important to know the difference between a vehicle warranty, a motor plan and a maintenance or service plan, as this will help one budget for future maintenance costs as well as help them figure out who to call when you get stuck. An expensive mechanical breakdown can leave one out of pocket and, should the vehicle be written off in an accident, they may end up without a car which one may still be paying for.
It's important to know what kind of cover one has for their vehicle – and what exactly is covered in the contract in South Africa.
Mechanical or electrical breakdowns can prove costly and they invariably occur when one can least afford it. Keeping ones car properly maintained and serviced at the correct intervals can help to reduce the unnecessary cost of repairs and unscheduled maintenance.
Highlighted below are the differences amongst the various plans for one’s convenience:
- Manufacturer’s warranty: Most vehicle manufacturers will provide a warranty on a new vehicle that should cover any manufacturing defects to the original components, mechanical or electrical, for a certain period after the purchase date of your vehicle. Warranties may differ from one manufacturer to another, but on average, the warranty period is usually for three to five years, or for a specific kilometer distance. Warranties usually cover repair costs to parts such as the gear box, water cooling system or head gasket and other large parts in the motor engine.
- Service plans: A service plan will cover the cost of routine car services, usually annually or when a particular mileage is reached, including labor costs. Items that are covered in the cost of a routine service include air filters, oil filters, fuel filters, and lubricants such as oil, spark plugs and coolant. Any other repairs required will be for the vehicle owner’s account.
- Maintenance plans: Maintenance plans cover the cost of one’s regular service (including labor) as well as the cost of repairs to parts caused by wear and tear. It provides cover for part such as brake pads and break discs, shocks absorbers, battery, windscreen wipers, globes and fuses.
A maintenance plan is therefore more extensive than a service plan and is the better option. So if it’s only a minimal additional cost when purchasing a vehicle, it’s usually worth it to upgrade from a service plan to a maintenance plan.
- Motor plan: A motor plan combines the benefits of a service plan and maintenance plan in one package, offering the vehicle owner more benefits. In some cases it may also include a warranty.
It is, however, important to note that a vehicle warranty, service or maintenance plan will not cover one for any damage to your vehicle in the event of an accident. One would still need to ensure that they have an insurance policy to cover ones vehicle against accidental loss or damage caused to one’s vehicle in the event of an accident.
Vehicle owners in South Africa should always ask themselves the following questions. Possibly in the rest of Africa:
- Do I have a warranty and/or maintenance/service plan for my vehicle?
- What is covered by the plan – and what is not covered? More specifically, which parts will be covered in the event of breakdown, and is the labor cost included?
- How long are the plans valid for and will I be able to afford the maintenance thereafter?
- What will the cost implication be when the plan has run its service period?
South Africa is a more disciplined counterpart when it comes to automotive insurance. How is the issues in your countries??? Do you think other African Countries can upgrade to such systems???