Getting the Wheels Rolling

By Vanessa Papas

From the minute they were born you knew the day would eventually arrive. Your baby would grow up into a teen and ask the question many parents dread: “Can I have a car?”
Sure, a car does come with a few perks – your teen won’t need to rely on you for transport, but the costs of getting a car for them often outweigh the pros. Aside from payment for the actual car itself, there are other factors to consider such as car insurance, petrol and maintenance.

Before You Buy It: Buying a car has huge financial implications. Before you get your teen a car ask yourself the following questions: Does your teen need a car, or just want one because all his friends are getting them? Is your teenager responsible enough to have his own car? Will letting your son or daughter get a car make your life significantly easier? Is there money available to buy a car? Even used cars can be expensive. If buying a vehicle is a strain on your finances and your teen doesn’t have money to pay for a car, postpone the purchase until he can buy it himself, or your financial position improves.

Put Safety First: While you might want to buy the cheapest, nippiest car on the market for your teen, keep in mind that a second-hand car that’s seen better days might not be the safest option. No one wants their 18-year-old daughter stuck on the side of the road at night because the car keeps breaking down, or their son suffering major injuries because the car is not equipped with standard safety features such a electronic stability control (ESC) because of its age.

Why Insurance Is A Necessity: Did you know that 70 percent of all motor insurance claims are accident-related? Or that 55 percent of all accident claims have no third party involved, comprising incidents such as a gate closing on a car or a driver reversing into their spouse’s car in the driveway or the unseen ditch in the parking lot? What about the fact that the average claim value on a motor insurance policy ranges from R15 000 to R17 000, or that conservative industry estimates are that only 40 percent of vehicles on the road are insured, creating a real dilemma if your teen is involved in an accident where the other party has no insurance?

The Pros Of A Broker: There are so many aspects that affect your teen’s motor insurance, ranging from the make and model of the vehicle, through to the cost of parts and availability; whether your teen needs car hire in the event of an accident, what the vehicle is utilised for, their driver profile and age and even their credit rating. With all this to consider, it can be a minefield trying to navigate the terms of your teen’s motor insurance agreement without the insights of an experienced eye. Mandy Barrett of insurance brokerage and risk advisors Aon South Africa explains a professional broker will be able to facilitate the making of a well-managed insurance programme that accounts for your teen’s unique needs and risk profile, while matching their available budget.

Do Your Homework: Find out everything you can about the make and model of the vehicle you are thinking of buying and find out if the parts are readily available, and compare the price of parts with other models and makes. Be aware of vehicles that are considered to be higher risk for theft and hijackings and make allowances for any type of security precautions your teen will need, such as a tracking device, as you need to factor the ongoing subscription cost into your monthly expenses.

Read The Fine Print: Remember to check whether there is anything that you need to add into your teen’s standard motor vehicle insurance agreement such as scratch and dent cover, tyre cover, hail damage cover and so on – don’t assume that you are covered for everything. Keep in mind also that age can determine the price of your insurance premiums. The younger and more inexperienced in driving your teen is, the more expensive the cover will likely be. Specify any add-ons to the vehicle that are not standard features on the vehicle such as alloy mag wheels or a specific sound system, nudge bars and side steps, a GPS navigator and additional lights. These all add additional value to the vehicle and need to be accounted for in your sum insured.

Put Rules In Place: There are certain rules that should apply when your teen gets a car (even though these rules may differ between households). If your teen gets a traffic fine, he’s responsible for paying the cost of the ticket. At no time will your teen ever drink and drive, or carry any alcohol in the car. He will never have more people in the car than there are seat belts, and he will not begin driving until all passengers have buckled up. He will keep the car clean, refill the petrol tank, check the oil, and so forth. He will never talk on a cellphone or text while driving and he will concentrate on the road, not his friends or music.