Steering clear of common pitfalls facing young drivers

In the spirit of Youth Month this June, it’s important to understand the benefits of insurance. File photo.

In the spirit of Youth Month this June, it’s important to understand the benefits of insurance. File photo.

Published Jun 20, 2024


Young drivers tend to be more confident than older drivers, particularly when it comes to taking risks on the road. This could include drinking alcohol and driving or travelling in an uninsured vehicle. Car insurance may not be favoured by some younger drivers, but life can be unpredictable, no matter how young, carefree, or invincible you may think you are.

In the spirit of Youth Month this June, it’s important to understand the benefits of insurance and how young drivers can equip themselves against mistakes or misfortune.

Siyakha Masiye, spokesperson at MiWay Insurance, says many of the hazards that young people encounter on the road are avoidable given a little knowledge and foresight.

Hit the brakes on bad habits

"Too many accidents happen under the influence of alcohol," Masiye warns. “Contrary to what many may think, more so than car hijackings. Yet, the fear of hijacking often outweighs the perceived risk of drinking and driving, which can lead to a false sense of security.”

If you are found to be drinking and driving, even without causing an accident, it’s a criminal offence, meaning the risks go beyond your insurer rejecting any accident claims that could arise. “So, if you’re going for a night out, rather take an e-hailing service instead Uber,” he says.

Some insurers even offer a pickup service to help clients get to where they need to go safely. WeDrive by MiWay is one such example and even though it must be booked in advance, it’s a cost-effective option to ensure you arrive home instead of in a hospital, full of regret, or worse. “Some people may believe they can drive just fine when drunk, but the police and your insurer won’t agree, and this type of behaviour is sure to bite you eventually.”

Convincing yourself that nothing bad will ever happen, or you’ll never get caught out is naïve to say the least. Another common issue is misrepresenting the age of a regular driver to try to keep insurance premiums down, such as if a young person borrows a car from a parent, but insurers will discover this, meaning honesty is essential to keep a policy active.

Drivers who are under the age of 25 years old are considered more reckless or likely to get into accidents – in fact insurers apply a higher excess on claims when a young driver is behind the wheel.

“While you can’t speed up the clock, you can make sensible driving decisions to reduce insurance risks,” Masiye says.

“Sticking to the speed limit, observing traffic lights, stop streets and rules, as well as staying off your electronic devices while driving are simple tips, but yet so often disregarded, causing many accidents.”

Staying in the right lane

Insurers are smart and if an accident is caused because you were texting and driving, this will come to light, and a claim can be rejected. “While it’s perfectly fine to have your phone safely attached to your dashboard for directions, using a hands-free kit with earpiece is highly recommended and all texting should rather be done when you’re parked,” he adds.

Your vehicle is an expensive item to replace if it becomes damaged or worse, and treasured items like cellphones also need adequate protection against theft or an accident. Underinsuring devices, as well as cars is another common issue young people stumble into, although underinsurance doesn’t have an age limit.

Many people, especially those who are young and on a tight budget, don’t necessarily see the value in insurance. But the truth is, without that added safety net, it can be much more expensive to recover from unexpected events. Consider if a car accident is your fault, can you afford the damages without insurance? And can you replace what has been lost? You might not even be impacted by an accident or crime – you could forget your cellphone at a restaurant and never see it again. Without insurance, it can be tough to replace, and with the reliance we have on our phones, frustrating steps will follow such as cancelling linked bank accounts or payment apps. These frustrations only increase if you have to replace your car without financial support from your insurer.

“Being young has many advantages, including being optimistic or fearless but to be armed with insurance helps to keep life going and flowing no matter what happens. We can’t predict the future, but we can prepare for worst case scenario, and insurance is the stopgap for when life happens while you’re busy making other plans,” Masiye concludes.