Extra! Extra! Read All About Liability Car Insurance


May 7, 2024
Team Pineapple

“Accidents occur without warning; they’re accidents, after all. Anyway, this leaves you vulnerable to the financial repercussions.” 

And that, dear reader, is the importance of liability car insurance coverage! It isn't just a contractual obligation but your protection on South Africa’s roads.

Still want to know more? Here’s a guide and your compass to understanding this coverage. 

Pineapple will unravel the complexities of liability car insurance, giving you knowledge of the necessary steps needed to make informed decisions. Join us as we explore this insurance's fundamental role and its role in shielding you from financial hardship when accidents occur.

Afterwards, you can navigate the intricacies of liability car insurance confidently and secure your financial stability.

What is Liability Car Insurance?

1.1 Definition

Liability car insurance, commonly referred to as Third-party car insurance, is an essential element of vehicle insurance and serves as a financial safety net for motorists. It provides coverage for the costs inflicted in the event of an accident for which the policyholder (you) is at fault. 

These costs typically include injuries and property damage to a third party but not to you or your car. 

However, please note that if you’re involved in an accident that isn’t your fault, you can claim against the person who caused it.

1.2 Legal Requirements of Insurance in South Africa

There isn't a specific legal requirement for liability car insurance in South Africa, as in some other countries.

Instead, our country’s law focuses on the Road Accident Fund (RAF), which compensates victims of South African road accidents, regardless of whether the at-fault driver has insurance. Motorists contribute to the RAF through the fuel levy included in the fuel price.

By driving without liability insurance, you face the following consequences:

  • Financial responsibility.
  • Lawsuits.
  • Loss of personal assets.
  • Limited options for seeking compensation.
  • Increased premiums when you finally get insurance due to your history of driving without coverage.

Components of Liability Coverage

Liability car insurance comprises two primary components: bodily injury liability and property damage liability. Each serves a distinct purpose in protecting you and others on the road.

2.1 Bodily Injury Liability

Bodily injury liability provides financial protection for injuries sustained by other parties in an accident where you, as the insured driver, are at fault. 

It covers medical expenses, legal fees and other accident-related costs.

Bodily injury liability covers the medical expenses, including hospital bills, doctor's fees, surgeries, rehabilitation, and related healthcare costs.

In addition, this coverage can be extended to cover legal fees. If a lawsuit arises from the accident, such as a personal injury claim filed against you, bodily injury liability can help protect your legal defence costs.

Lastly, bodily injury liability may also assist in covering other costs associated with injuries, like lost wages or pain and suffering.

2.2 Property Damage Liability

Property damage liability is the second key component of liability coverage. It addresses the costs related to property damage resulting from the accident. It entails property repair or replacement and costs beyond repairs.

Property damage liability covers the expenses associated with repairing or replacing other people's property, including damage to vehicles, buildings, structures, or any other property that may have suffered harm due to the accident.

It's important to note that property damage liability can also extend to cover costs beyond repairs. An example would be temporary accommodations for affected individuals or the cost of renting a replacement vehicle while repairs are underway.

Coverage Limits and Excess Amounts

The one thing to remember about liability coverage is how the coverage limits work and the unique nature of excess amounts in this context.

3.1 Coverage Limits

Liability forms part of most car insurance plans, including Comprehensive, Third-Party Fire and Theft and Third-Party only cover. But, the extent of your coverage will depend on your policy. 

Liability coverage limits are a critical aspect of your insurance policy. They dictate the maximum amount your insurer will pay for a covered claim.

Take Pineapple, for example.

Our affordable Comprehensive car insurance comes equipped with Third-Party liability for when you’re held liable for another person's accidental death, injury or damage to their property.

The coverage limits? Pineapple pays a maximum of up to R5 million for third-party incidents.

3.2 Excess Amounts

Excess (or first amount payable) is the first amount you must pay before settling your claim. 

Your policy schedule typically displays your excess amount. You must pay this portion of the claim or the uninsured portion of your loss. If the claimed amount is less than the excess, your insurer will not make any payment.

Unlike other types of insurance, like comprehensive coverage, you’ll be happy to know liability insurance often doesn’t come with added expenses. It does not attract an excess due to how the benefit works. 

In liability coverage, the insurer covers the costs of injuries and property damage for which you are at fault without requiring you to pay an excess.

Understanding this distinction ensures that when you're found liable for an accident, your liability coverage will go into effect immediately to protect you and others involved. Excesses are typically associated with coverages that protect your vehicle, not liability coverage, which focuses on protecting others and their property.

When Does Liability Insurance Come into Play?

The best advice we can give you about liability insurance is to ‘keep that thing on you’. The scenarios it covers are random and will likely catch you off guard. So, the best protection is one that’s constant.

In situations where the insured driver is at fault in an accident, liability coverage becomes a financial safeguard, helping to address the expenses incurred by other parties. 

4.1 At-Fault Accidents

Here are a few other scenarios where you can use liability insurance to your advantage:

  • car collisions
  • pedestrian or cyclist accidents
  • property damage incidents

If you’re responsible for a collision involving one vehicle or multiple vehicles, pedestrians or someone else's property, your liability insurance will step in.  

Your cover will assist with the medical expenses of injured individuals and the costs associated with repairing or replacing their damaged property.

So, the next time your car’s bumper comes face-to-fence, or maybe it’s a mailbox or another vehicle, liability coverage will ensure that the affected parties' property repair or replacement costs are preserved.

4.2 Legal Defence

Suppose a lawsuit arises from an accident, such as a personal injury claim filed against you by another party. In that case, your liability policy can cover the legal defence costs. This assistance means you have a chance at proper legal representation to help navigate the often complex legal proceedings.

In some cases, liability cover may also extend to settlements reached in lawsuits related to the accident. 

Your insurer may assist in negotiating and settling claims on your behalf and provide a comprehensive solution for legal matters arising from the accident.

What Liability Insurance Does Not Cover

5.1 Personal Injuries or Vehicle Damage

While it seemingly does it all, it's vital to note that liability insurance is designed to cover the costs associated with injuries and property damage sustained by other parties in an at-fault accident. 

That, however, does not extend to cover the insured's injuries or damage to their vehicle in such accidents. 

In other words, if you are at fault in an accident and suffer injuries or your vehicle is damaged, your liability insurance won't provide financial assistance for whatever expenses crop up.

5.2 Comprehensive and Collision Coverage

Collision insurance is another type of car coverage that helps pay for repairing or replacing your vehicle if it is damaged in a collision with another car or object, regardless of who is at fault. 

While this cover is optional in many other countries,  it’s typically not offered as a standalone insurance product in South Africa.

In Mzansi, insurance typically combines coverage for both collision and comprehensive aspects under a single policy. Liability insurance forms part of comprehensive insurance policies. 

Comprehensive insurance provides broader coverage, including personal injuries and car damage caused by accidents, theft, or other covered perils. 

Comprehensive policies also extend beyond liability insurance's limits by offering protection for your own injuries and vehicle repairs, regardless of fault. 

Discussing your specific insurance needs with professionals is essential to determine the most suitable policy for your unique circumstances. This will ensure you have the right level of protection on the road.

Tips for Choosing The Best Liability Insurance

6.1 Assessing Personal Risk

If you’re looking only to have liability cover, this type of insurance is best suited to people who either have an older or low-value car (ideally, the vehicle should already paid off) or those who don’t drive their vehicles very often or for long distances. 

This minimises the potential risk of being involved in an accident or having to pay for the high costs of repair or replacement parts.

6.2 Cost Considerations

Premiums for liability insurance can vary based on coverage limits, driving history, and the insurance company. 

Something else to consider is choosing a higher excess, which can lower your premiums but may require you to pay more out of pocket in case of a claim. However, ensure you can actually afford the higher excess amount. Yes, you’ll pay an affordable monthly premium, but should a claim event happen, you’ll be stuck paying a bank-breaking amount. This increased out-of-pocket expense can be significant, potentially undermining the primary function of insurance: to provide financial protection against the risks associated with your car.

Remember, the purpose of insurance is to provide financial protection and peace of mind by reducing the financial risks associated with unforeseen events.

Therefore, it's essential to strike the right balance that fits your budget while ensuring sufficient protection on the road and wherever you go.


In summary, liability insurance, or third-party cover, shouldn’t be just another box to check on your car insurance policy. It's a fundamental that safeguards your peace of mind, after all. 

Also, remember that liability coverage protects other parties involved in an accident and your financial well-being. Although not a legal requirement, it’s still a wise choice. 

So, now that you know all this, it should be a bit easier to do your best to be a responsible driver. Start with making informed decisions and consult with insurance professionals to ensure you have the right coverage for your unique circumstances. 

With the right liability insurance, you can hit the road confidently, knowing you've prepared for whatever comes your way. 

Feeling really really confident? Get a quote now to see what Pineapple has to offer!

Pineapple (FSP 48650) is underwritten by Old Mutual Alternative Risk Transfer Insure Limited, a licensed Non-Life Insurer and authorised FSP. T&Cs apply.

Please Note: The information provided above is for informational purposes only; you should not construe any such information as legal or financial advice.

Team Pineapple

Team Pineapple comprises our company’s top talents, who are dedicated to creating clear, high-quality content on essential vehicle insurance topics. This diverse group, including actuaries, accountants, data scientists, and insurance professionals across South Africa, collaborates to produce enlightening and empowering articles.

Each piece is thoroughly researched, factually accurate, and rigorously reviewed to ensure quality.

*We say they’re the finest because we want them to keep writing for us!

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Please Note: The information provided above is for informational purposes only; you should not construe any such information as legal or financial advice.

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