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A Quick guide to insurance terminology

Material fact

A material fact is any information that will influence the insurer’s decision:

  • whether or not to insure you; or
  • as to the terms and conditions that the insurer will apply when insuring you.

(E.g., how much premium to charge, excesses to apply, any conditions or exclusions to apply, etc.). If you do not tell your insurer important ("material") information, this could make your policy invalid or negatively affect a claim.

Motor Values
Retail value

In motor insurance
This is the likely selling price of the vehicle by a motor dealer to a purchaser. This is the possible value that a motor vehicle "retails" for if you were to buy it from a dealership. The retail price is the closest value to the replacement value or cost of your insured motor vehicle.

Trade value

In motor insurance
This is the likely price a dealer will pay for your vehicle when it is traded in.

Book value

In motor insurance
If you are buying a vehicle, then the book value is the same as the retail value. If you are trading in your vehicle, then the book value is the same as the trade value.

Market value

In motor insurance
The market value is the average between the likely trade and retail values of a vehicle. (trade value + retail value) / 2 = market value


A motor dealer can sell a vehicle to a customer for the amount of R300 000 (retail value) The same vehicle was traded in by its previous owner for R 250 000 (trade value) The market value of the vehicle will therefore be R275 000 (R250 000 [trade value] + R 300 000 [retail value])

In property insurance = R 275 000 (market value)
The same calculation is not applicable to calculating the market value of other movable property, such as furniture or electronic goods. In property insurance, the market value is the amount a willing buyer will offer to a willing seller to buy the property concerned.