UPDATE: Can't say, won't say

When Auto & General (A&G) rejected a claim filed by Magdeline Ramatsobane Ledwaba for a VW Polo that had been written off – on the basis that she had “falsely” listed her cousin as the regular driver (nose141) – the story showed that the designation was accurate, with her cousin driving the car far more often than she did, even after he stopped living at her house.

The story also showed that A&G had manufactured evidence to support its rejection, and illustrated how insurance companies play on the difficulties many South Africans have with English. Noseweek reported that the matter was before the Ombudsman for Short Term Insurance.

The Ombudsman found against A&G. But the way these things work seems questionable. The complainant (Ledwaba) does not even get a copy of the Ombudsman’s order, only notification that the insurance company had been ordered to “make an offer”. And the insurer then makes a derisory offer – which in this case comes to R81,000 on a vehicle with a retail value of R157,000.

Noseweek asked the Ombudsman for a copy of the order and to confirm that it is the practice to simply require the insurer to “make an offer”, rather than order it to pay a specific amount. (We had contemplated posing the question: was the Ombudsman, perhaps, in need of a set of dentures? But that would’ve been rude.)

The response came from Thasnim Dawood, Assistant Ombudsman, and was entirely predictable: “I write to advise you that in terms of the application form signed by the complainant when lodging her complaint with this office, all correspondence and dealings are considered confidential as between this office, the complainant and the insurer. Therefore, at this stage, I regret to advise you that we are not at liberty to discuss the matter further with you/Noseweek. We are still liaising with the Insured and her representative, as well as the Insurer at this stage, regarding the offer.” Pleased to hear it!

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