By Shingirai Vambe
Zimbabweans are increasing becoming more health conscious, and like many living in affluent suburbs who have adopted the new habit of morning runs before going to work, one morning Gerald Kapondera of Warren Park 1 started his morning routine with a run.
While going uphill, near the Roman Catholic Church in the same area, tragedy struck for Gerald.
A practicing lawyer, Kudzai Kadzere, was driving his BMW vehicle behind Gerald and knocked him down. According to the police report, Kudzai was under the influence of alcohol, although the report did not specify the level of intoxication.
Gerald died and left behind his wife and 2 children, a boy and a girl, who were both under the age of 4.
Funeral arrangements were made and he was buried.
Later that same year, the spouse then visited the insurance company that Kudzai was engaged with.
Safel Insurance Company said Kudzai did not make a report to them that he had been involved in a road traffic accident.
“We are trying to get hold of him, he did not inform us nor did we get any report in that regard. He is arrogant and adamant we are now handicapped,” said a representative from Safel Insurance Company.
Gerald’s wife then tried to take the legal route, went to the Magistrates Court and filed a summon, which was indeed responded to by an appearance to defend notice. But the case died a natural death.
This is more or less similar with another recent case of a head-on collision that happened between Murewa centre and Mutawatawa on February 18 2023, those who survived were taken to the Murewa Hospital, then transferred to Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare.
Moreblessing Sithole was on board with her child traveling to Murewa Centre, when a Honda fit collided with another vehicle. She was severely injured and her son had a broken leg among other injuries.
To date, the bill for Moreblessing has risen over ZWL$2 million. Parents and relatives do not know what to about about the inflating bill, or who to approach to make a claim or get some assistance.
These cases are numerous.
A good number of Zimbabweans have not or failed to make claims to insurance companies in the event an accident occurs.
Insurance companies continue to perform well at the expense of policyholders, so much so that more insurers continue to mushroom.
Some individuals who spoke to the Post On Sunday last week expressed concern over the 3rd party insurance, even when there are no casualties.
Harare businessman, Richard Gava, told this publication that the process alone to make a claim is tedious and one would not want to waste time, that is why majority decide to settle their issues on the sport and the car is repaired, because insurance companies typically delay the process, while their requirements can be overwhelming.
Another individual who identified himself as Brighton said even when it comes to comprehensive motor insurance, the process is not for the faint-hearted.
The law is very clear. Persons injured by uninsured or hit-and-run drivers.
This is a voluntary scheme established by motor accident insurers under which the Motor Insurers Bureau will pay compensation up to certain specified limits to victims of negligence on the roads, in situations where the wrongdoers are not insured or where the wrongdoers are hit-and-run drivers who cannot be traced. Under this scheme, claims are made to the Motor Insurers’ Bureau.
Unfortunately, most of these funds have gone unclaimed.
Accidents resulting in death or personal injury where the person responsible for the accident is uninsured or his policy is said to be ineffective because a condition of the policy was breached or it was obtained by improper methods, such as a false declaration.
In this situation, the injured party must first obtain judgment against D but before commencing action he must notify the Motor Insurance Bureau.
There is a shorter period of prescription governing this type of claim in that it is laid down that the injured party must also issue summons against D within two years.
Where a person has been run down and has sustained serious and permanent disability or has died as a result of injury; and the driver has failed to stop after the accident and cannot be traced.
However, if he had been traced and it is reasonably certain that he would have been delictually liable, the Motor Insurance Bureau will make an ex gratia payment.
Chegutu West legislator, Mr Dexter Nduna confirmed, saying claims for all these have not been forthcoming.
The insurers appear to be beneficiaries in all this, given the prescription period of claim, which is 2 years.
Section 38B of the Road Traffic Act [Chapter 13:11] provides for compulsory no-fault liability insurance to cover death or injuries to passengers in public service vehicles.
The provision reads as follows: “Subject to this Part, no person shall drive a passenger public service vehicle carrying passengers on any road unless there is in force a policy of insurance, issued by a person who is approved by the Minister as an insurer for the purposes of this Part, which provides a benefit in accordance with a scale approved by the Minister, irrespective of fault on the part of the owner or any of his employees or agents, to every person who suffers loss or injury, up to an amount of:
(a) two thousand dollars (USD $2 000), in respect of the death of or permanent disability suffered by any such passenger; and
(b) three hundred and fifty dollars (USD $350), in respect of medical or funeral expenses incurred by or in respect of any such passenger who suffers bodily injury or dies; where such death, permanent disability or bodily injury is caused by or arises out of the use of the passenger public service vehicle on any road.
(2) Any person who contravenes subsection (1) shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level six or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year or to both such fine and such imprisonment.”
A public service vehicle is defined in section 2, “public service vehicle” means a motor vehicle in respect of whose operation an operator’s licence is required in terms of the Road Motor Transportation Act [Chapter 13:15].
This law also apply to aviation, in response to passengers and accident victims.
In the case of private taxi operators, (Mshika shika) the law is not clear.
However, the Insurance business has fallen victim of the monetary situation in the country, where currencies and their values have changed over time, many have lost faith, Insurance companies have also tried to play safe under the circumstances, like any other business, the main objective is to make profit, but this has, and is still at the expense of the general populace.
Just like any other person in the streets of the country, Zimbabweans lack confidence in their banking sector, this is the same with insurance, cover has changed with many even after maturity failed to get value for their money due to inflation.
Insurance Company of Zimbabwe (ICZ) told the Post that one can only make a claim if there is proof of insurance.
“Most of the motor claims relate to RTA and we expect every person involved in an accident to report. For third party claims the prescription period is 3 years, therefore a person is expected to submit claims documents within those 3 years. For comprehensive, there is a notification period of 30 days,” said ICZ marketing and public relations consultant Ringisayi Batiya.
She went further to share the processes and expectations for insurance companies.
The process for an RTA claim starts when one party involved in an accident has been charged for having caused the accident. Either the police charges and the person on the wrong side pays an admission of guilt or the court charges.
Complete a claim form in full by providing answers to all the questions that have been asked.
Obtain at least three quotations from different estimators relating to the cost of an accident.
Lodge the claim with the insurer of the wrong part.
The issue of unclaimed benefits is also notable in the pensions sector.
According to the Insurance and Pensions Commission (IPEC) as at September 30 2022 occupational pension funds were sitting on ZWL$7 billion worth of unclaimed benefits, which actually rose from ZWL$4 billion in June of the same year.
A case in point is of an elderly Mbare woman who had two children working for Harare City Council. The two children died and the mother was entitled to the benefits of her two deceased children.
But having gone for some time without receiving anything, after some interventions, she was told, you can only receive pension for one child, for the other, no one knows and his or her contributions are part of the ballooning basket of unclaimed funds.
IPEC public relations manager, Mr Lloyd Gumbo, said unclaimed benefits can be caused by various reasons.
“This could be attributed to a number of factors, which include: migration of the labour force to the diaspora since the turn of the millennium and some non-resident pensioners have not been claiming their benefits; lack of awareness on the part of the pension scheme members and their beneficiaries that they are entitled to lodge a claim for such benefits when they fall due,” he said.
It could also be a result of data integrity on the part of pension funds and administrators as some of the membership records are incomplete to enable tracking of beneficiaries of the unclaimed benefits; and others could have relocated possibly to their rural homes
“It is also possible that some members could have passed on. Where the member may have died, his or her beneficiaries such as family members have a right to claim the benefits.”