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The implications of overloaded vehicles on your insurance policy

Overloading – it’s a common occurrence on our roads. If we don’t drive past an overloaded bus, taxi or truck, then we read about another horrific accident caused by one. Hundreds of passengers lose their lives every year, and numerous transport owners count the cost of claims being rejected based on non-compliance.

Vehicles designed for public transport have specific legal capacities in terms of the maximum amount of passengers that they can safely carry. Such capacities are determined by manufacturers and are calculated by taking numerous technical data and specifications into account. The passenger limit of a certain vehicle is given according to the number of seated passengers as well as standing, if applicable.

These compliance measures aren’t guidelines. If a vehicle’s capacity slightly exceeds the maximum carrying capacity, the performance of the vehicle can be affected which could lead to an accident. The South African National Standard 10047: 2009 has been incorporated into the National Road Traffic Act, making this standard a regulation.

Case in point – an accident recently occurred in which a driver of a bus lost control, and as a result, it plummeted down a cliff, causing fatal injuries to the passengers on board. Subsequently, the insurer appointed an investigator, who obtained information from a local hospital about the number of hospital admissions following the accident. Based on the information received, the insurer concluded that the bus was overloaded and that that was the underlying cause of the accident. The insurance claim was thus rejected.

It is important to remember that overloading is weight-related and not down to the number of passengers on board. Because of this, there is a formula that can be used to calculate the passenger capacity. This formula is as follows:

NP = M – L – T

  • NP = Number of passengers
  • M = Maximum allowable gross weight
  • L = Luggage allowance
  • T = Vehicle weight without passengers

To allow for children, the following guidelines apply:

  • Children between 0 and 3 years = 0 adults
  • Children between 3 and 6 years = 2 children = 1 adult
  • Children between 6 and 13 years = 3 children = 2 adults
  • Children over 13 years = 1 adult

It is strongly recommended that your business implements systems to ensure the above calculations are made when loading passengers. The onus is on the insurer to prove that the overloading was a direct cause of the accident, but the risk of a potentially catastrophic repudiation exists. 

Speak to an Indwe risk advisor about your transport insurance needs by contacting us on 0860 13 13 14 or visiting www.indwe.co.za.  

Indwe is an authorised Financial Services Provider. FSP: 3425