Legal Drinking Age in South Africa: Should it be 21?

The legal drinking age in South Africa could be changed from 18 years of age to 21. This comes after the Liquor Amendment Bill gained momentum in early 2018, and is now in front of Cabinet awaiting to be passed through Parliament.

The most recent statistics (2016) from the World Health Organization (WHO) indicated that South Africa is in the top 20 of the biggest drinking countries in the world, and the third biggest in Africa. Somewhat worryingly, the WHO report also showed that more than a quarter of the drinking population in South Africa are considered binge drinkers, consuming at least 60 grams or more of pure alcohol in one session within a 30-day period.

Naturally, this doesn’t just have consequences on the individuals consuming the alcohol. According to IOL, alcohol-related health and crime incidents reportedly cost the South African government billions of rand every year, with health costs alone estimated at 5% of total public health spending.

Not to mention, widespread alcohol abuse in many communities has led to several cases of domestic violence. Thus, the new law was initially met favourably, thanks to the thinking that further restrictions on the accessibility of alcohol will decrease booze-related crimes.

But, of course, the primary target of the new law is the youth of South Africa; however, some argue that raising the age limit to purchase alcohol will likely have no significant effect on alcohol abuse amongst teenagers, since the current limit of 18 isn’t much of a deterrent. According to the Southern Africa Alcohol Policy Alliance (SAAPA), 25% of young people binge-drink and 12% of under 13-year-olds said they had drunk alcohol in the past month.

Insiders have linked this rise in minors drinking liquor to the prevalence of alcohol advertising, particularly at sporting events. Thus, the Liquor Amendment Bill also calls for a ban on alcohol advertising , and it could result in alcohol advertising on radio and television being banned from 6am to 10pm. Researchers from Nedlac are convinced that the one-two punch of banning advertising and raising the legal drinking age will be effective, and estimate that it would reduce alcohol consumption 3.2%-7.4% among those aged 15 years and older.

Of course, this potential ban on alcohol marketing has the advertising and media industries in a panic. According to a report on a study for the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac), restricting alcohol advertising in the time period mentioned above would result in a loss of revenue amounting to R400m for advertising agencies and R800m for the media, particularly television.

So it goes without saying that the proposed liquor law amendments are controversial, and only time will tell whether or not it will be effective. The exact date of when the new law will be implemented has yet to be determined.


How to Avoid Your Insurance Claim Getting Rejected

In life, we try to minimise risk as much as possible, and that often means taking out various insurance policies, whether it is life cover to ensure your loved ones are looked after, or vehicle insurance to make sure that there are measures in place to help you should you be involved in a road accident or fall victim to car theft, for instance. In short, we rely on an insurance claim to lessen financial and emotional strain.

And while having one or all of these policies in place should give you peace of mind, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will get a pay-out should you submit a claim. Year after year, thousands of South African are left frustrated after their insurance claims are either partially or completely rejected.

We take a look at some of the main reasons why your insurance claim could be rejected, and how the law is on your side should you feel as though you are treated unjustly by an insurance company.

  1. Honesty is the best policy – be clear, concise in your insurance application form

When completing your insurance claim form, you must be as clear and honest as possible. Any details that might be inaccurate or facts that have been misrepresented could potentially lead to legal action against you for insurance fraud. It might be worth adding any affidavits or images that support your claim.

  1. Only insure assets that belong to you

Technically, you are not allowed to insure assets or belongings that you don’t own or use.  For example, many parents will insure their children’s vehicle under their own policies because it usually works out cheaper.

Most companies actually prefer it if the children have their own policies, especially when they are earning their own income and financially independent. So, while it might be somewhat of an administrative nightmare, it’s best to have separate the policies so that there aren’t unnecessary hurdles when it comes to submitting a claim. If your children aren’t financially independent and drive your vehicle, make sure you list them as nominated drivers.

  1. Drive responsibly and abide by the law

Be sure that your driver’s licence has expired and that anyone who drives your vehicle has a licence because should there be an accident, this could result in your claim being rejected because you are technically driving illegally.

Similarly, you must ensure your car is roadworthy- whether it is a worn tyre tread or faulty indicator, your claim could get vetoed if a mechanism or feature isn’t working the way it is meant to.  Of course, it goes without saying that driving under the influence is a no-go.

  1. Mitigate the risk -stay vigilant and be aware

Essentially, you want to avoid any kind of negligence and, and that includes leaving keys in your car or not activating your house alarm, for instance. It’s also wise to install a tracking device and obtain proof that you have one in case your car is stolen.

  1. Make sure your monthly premiums are up to date

If your payments are in arrears, you will forfeit any cover from your insurer and your insurance claim will be unsuccessful. However, if you are struggling to pay your premium, contact your insurer and see if there isn’t an alternative payment arrangement that will still keep your cover intact.

  1. You try to claim within the waiting period

Almost every insurance policy has a waiting period before any benefits kick in or claims can be made.  Needless to say, your insurance claim will be rejected if it falls within this timeframe.

  1. Read the fine print and identify any exclusions

Whether it is car or life insurance, every policy has certain exclusions (things they don’t cover) that can be found in the terms and conditions. For example, if you take out life insurance cover, it’s unlikely that you will be covered for pre-existing conditions.  Take the time to read the fine print and make sure you get the comprehensive cover you need.

Can the law help if my insurance claim is unfairly rejected?

Of course, if you feel as though you’ve take all the necessary steps and precautions and your insurance claim is rejected, you can turn to the law for assistance. You can approach the Ombudsman for Short-Term Insurance for assistance, but there are certain steps you should follow before doing so.

  • Be sure to raise your complaint with your insurance company first. It’s best to do this in writing so that you have a clear record of all the facts leading up to this point.
  • While it may be difficult to control your emotions, try to remain calm and friendly. It will help you communicate effectively.
  • Try to take up the issue with one of the insurance company’s Senior Officials.
  • Keep track of all communication and facts, and make copies of any correspondence.

If you are still unsuccessful, you can lodge a complaint with the Ombudsman for Short-Term Insurance. The Ombudsman functions as an impartial mediator or arbitrator without representing either the consumer or the insurance companies in South Africa. Good news:  filing this complaint won’t cost you a cent.

You can either complete the complaint form by hand and post or fax it or complete the complaint form online and post or fax it. Visit the website of the Ombudsman for Short Term Insurance for more information.

Do note:  you usually only have 6 months after your claim has been repudiated to take the company to court and institute a civil claim.