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Insurance companies to be tolerant of expired licences

Published Jan 22, 2022

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Durban - According to three insurance companies, there will be a degree of tolerance towards drivers whose licence cards have expired as the Department of Transport experiences problems with the machine that makes them.

No one’s getting a new licence card until March; not until the machine that makes them comes back from being repaired in Germany, according to the Department of Transport.

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The result is that many drivers are on the roads with expired licence cards.

Some have receipts indicating they have been through the renewal drill that includes an eye test, while others have not. Covid and chaos have not made it easy.

For people in that boat, dodging cop roadblocks is one thing. But what if they’re in an accident? How will their insurers treat them when they present their expired card?

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Three insurance houses have told the Independent on Saturday that if administrative blunders at the Department of Transport are the reason they have expired cards, it will not impact their claims.

“If the customer does not have a valid driver’s licence at the time of the loss, but this was as a result of a purely administrative process that is beyond the control of the customer, as now experienced by many people, then the expired licence will not impact a claim,” said Ricardo Coetzee, head of Auto and General Insurance.

“We do, however, urge customers to continue in their efforts to renew these licences as soon as possible because, legally, they are still unlicensed to be on the roads.

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“We look at risk when assessing a claim, and an administrative delay does not increase or decrease your risk in operating a vehicle.”

Santam confirmed that valid claims would not be rejected on the basis of the non-availability of a valid driver’s license card caused by the challenges at the Department of Transport (DoT).

“In assessing the claim, Santam will take different factors, including the circumstances of the non-renewal of the license card, into consideration,” said Thabo Manamela, head of claims, quality and knowledge management.

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However, the company advised policyholders to still take reasonable steps to ensure they apply for the renewal of their license cards before it expires.

“Proof, such as the receipt or temporary driver’s license, will be accepted during claims until the challenges that are facing the DoT are resolved.”

Manamela added that a driver’s license did not expire.

“Only the card requires renewal every five years. The delay in the issuing of a driver’s license card by the authorities does not mean that the driver is unlicensed, hence, Santam will not penalise clients for the challenges faced by the DoT.”

Discovery Insure’s chief operating officer Shanna Caromba said driver’s license renewals would not impact its clients’ insurance policies because their licenses are deemed to be valid.

“A caveat to this is that regular eye tests of drivers are a necessity and can be a major determinant of safety on the road.”

She went on to say that the company encouraged clients to apply for their driver’s licenses timeously as the backlog might worsen to ensure that their cover remains in place.

Receipts would be valid until the renewed license is issued.

By the time of going to press, the Department of Transport had not responded to a request for further clarity on when the card machine was expected to be fixed and how long it would take for the backlog to be processed.

The Independent on Saturday

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