Important Car Insurance Terms You Should Know

It is important that you understand insurance terms to choose the right coverage.

These are key car insurance terms that you should know.

Car Insurance

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As a car owner, your annual routine includes renewing your car insurance. In the process, you may come across insurance terms or jargon that you do not quite understand. Do not let them slide as you must understand at least some of the key insurance terms to ensure that you choose the right coverage.

Besides, as insurance renewal involves your hard-earned money, it only makes sense that you know what you are paying for. To help you understand your insurance policy better, these are a few important car insurance terms that you should know.

Premium 

Your car insurance premium is the payment you make to your car insurance provider in exchange for coverage.

Example: You purchase comprehensive insurance from your insurer. To enjoy the coverage, you have to pay a premium of RM1,000.

For your information, motor premiums were previously tariffed by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM). This means that motor premiums by all insurers in Malaysia were standardised by BNM, primarily based on the sum insured and model of the vehicle.

However, since July 1, 2017, motor tariffs for Motor Comprehensive and Motor Third Party, Fire and Theft products have been liberalised. Motor premiums for the products have been determined by individual insurers and takaful operators. Following this motor tariff liberalisation, insurers have taken into account more factors to determine motor insurance premiums. The factors include the driving record, car usage, location of residence, occupation, age and vehicle safety features. To consumers, this means that they can enjoy more options as insurers offer different premiums as well as coverages.

No Claim Discount (NCD)

No Claim Discount (NCD) is a reward scheme for you if you make no claim on your insurance policy on an annual basis. NCD plays a significant role in determining the premium or amount you have to pay to your insurer.

Example: Your insurance premium is RM1,000. But after your NCD deduction of 55%, you only have to pay RM550 for your insurance premium.

For your information, the NCD rates for private cars range from 25% to a maximum of 55%. Note that if you claim your insurance policy where you are at fault, your NCD rate will return to 0%. This will therefore increase your insurance premium for the following year.

Refer to our visual below for the NCD rates for private cars in Malaysia.

NCD rates for private cars in Malaysia

Additional coverages

Additional coverage or optional coverage is any coverage that is not part of your insurance policy ‘package.’ To enjoy what your insurance does not cover, you will have to purchase additional coverage at an additional premium.

Example: A standard motor comprehensive insurance does not cover your additional car accessories. So if you wish to protect your additional accessories such as customised sport rims, you will have to purchase a car accessories cover.

There are a number of additional car insurance coverages that you can get when you buy your insurance. They include:

You may purchase any of the additional coverages according to your needs and risk assessment. Some of the common add-ons are as illustrated in our visual below.

Optional coverages for car insurance

Market value and agreed value

The sum insured or the amount of coverage for your car insurance is determined by either the market value or the agreed value of your car.

Market value

Market value is the value of your car based on its current market price. Your car market value typically depends on your car brand, model and manufacture year.

Example: Assume that the market value of your car is RM45,000. If you choose the market value as the sum insured, the compensation you will get in the event that your car is considered a total loss or stolen will be based on the market value of your car at the time of the accident. As car market value depreciates every year, your compensation will likely be lower than RM45,000, in this case.

Agreed value

Agreed value refers to the amount decided by you and your insurance company at the time of insurance renewal. The agreed value remains unchanged despite the decrease in your car market value.

Example: Assume that the sum insured for your car is an agreed value of RM45,000. You will get compensation of RM45,000 if your car is considered a total loss or stolen. The amount remains even though your car market value is lower when you make the claim.

Refer to our visual below for the key difference between a market value and an agreed value.

Difference between market value and agreed value

Excess

Excess refers to the first payment that you need to make whenever you make a claim on your insurance policy, even when you are not at fault. However, note that the excess does not apply to loss or damage caused by fire, explosion,
lightning, burglary, housebreaking, theft, third party property damage or bodily injury claims.

Example: Kamal’s insurance policy includes an excess of RM500. One day, Kamal’s car runs into an accident and has to be sent to a workshop for repair that amounted to RM4,000. Given that the excess stipulated in his car insurance policy is RM500, Kamal has to first pay RM500 while his insurer will bear the remaining RM3,500.

Besides, you should also be aware of these two types of excess which are compulsory excess and voluntary excess as explained below.

  • Compulsory excess

For a compulsory excess, before you can make an insurance claim, you will have to bear an additional excess of RM400 if you or the person driving your car with your consent:
• is under 21 years old;
• holds a Provisional (P) or Learner (L) driver’s licence; or
• is not a named driver in your insurance policy

  • Voluntary excess 

Voluntary excess is how much you choose to pay on top of any excess for all claims and compulsory excess. Some insurers allow you to increase your voluntary excess so you can enjoy a lower premium. Some of the factors that require you to pay a voluntary excess are your vehicle age and the risk of car theft.

The amount of voluntary excess depends on how much you are willing to pay, within a certain range. For example, Zurich Takaful lets its participants choose from RM500 to RM5,000 as a voluntary excess.

Betterment

Betterment refers to a portion of the cost that you have to pay to replace a damaged vehicle part with a brand new original part.

Example: You hit a tree that damages the rear bumper beyond repair. As you then get a new and original bumper, you will have to pay an additional charge or betterment cost for the new part.

For your information, you can waive betterment costs by purchasing a waiver of betterment cost as additional coverage.

Loading 

Loading refers to an additional charge imposed on the base premium based on insurers’ risk assessment.

Insurance companies impose different percentages of loading typically ranging between 15% to 35%. Some of the factors that affect a loading charge are the policyholder’s age, driving record, claim history as well as vehicle engine capacity and age. Loading is in place so that the coverage provided commensurates with the risk borne by insurers.

Example: Assume that you purchase third party insurance for your 15-year-old car. Given your old vehicle has a higher risk, you have to pay a loading fee of 15% on top of your premium.

Understand key insurance terms to ensure sufficient coverage

We have shared some of the important car insurance terms that you need to be aware of. For instance, knowing what “excess” means is important so you do not get shocked when you are asked to pay an excess when you make an insurance claim.

For more information about car insurance, you can always reach out to friendly and professional insurance experts at Bjak, for free. Besides, you can also get free car insurance quotations online for up to 15 insurance brands in Malaysia. Visit Bjak.my today to get your free quotations.