Will you still be insured if you can’t renew your driver’s licence?

Lockdown complication: Industry body says decisions will be based on the merit of each claim.
To be on the safe side, alert your broker or insurer so they can make a note on your policy profile to avoid any dispute should a claim arise. Image: Shutterstock

Many motorists are concerned about the insurance implications of being involved in an accident or insured incident while driving with an expired driver’s licence, because the Covid-19 lockdown has made it impossible for them to renew their licence.

Directions published by Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula on May 20, in terms of the Disaster Management Act, extended the validity period of some driver’s licences.

It said: All learner’s licences, driving licences, temporary driver’s licences, motor vehicle licence discs, temporary permits, roadworthy certificates and professional driving permits that expired in the period from March 26, 2020, up to and including May 31, 2020, are deemed to be valid and their validity period is further extended by 90 days from June 1, 2020.”

However, it will have been impossible for any motorist whose driver’s licence expired in June to renew it before it expired because driving licence test centres (DLTCs) were closed from March 26 when the lockdown was introduced and only reopened on June 1 at the earliest.

If a motorist renews their driver’s licence after it has expired, they are required to apply for a temporary driver’s licence at additional cost.

Capacity problems

However, DLTCs are only operating at 30% capacity because of the lockdown regulations. This has made it difficult for motorists to make an online booking to renew their driver’s licence.

People over the age of 60 are also being refused access to test centres because they are in the Covid-19 high-risk group.

This is despite the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) stating on the National Traffic Information System (eNatis) online booking system that people 60 and older do not have to book online; it encourages them to visit their local DLTC to be assisted.

AA requests extension

The Automobile Association (AA) this week called on the transport minister to extend the validity of driver’s licences until the end of January 2021 to accommodate those who are struggling to renew their licences.

AA spokesperson Layton Beard said it had asked for this extension because motorists always need to be on the road legally.

Beard admitted that people are experiencing difficulty booking online, and even if they have bookings, they are not being processed at DLTCs because there were massive backlogs even before the lockdown began. Plus some DLTCs are closed because of Covid-19 cases.

“Our big concern is that come the end of August going into September, October and November there are going to be a huge number of people on the roads who do not have valid driver’s licences,” he said.

“Our view is that people want to be compliant and be within the law but the current system is acting against them.

“One of the suggestions we have made is that you have to extend the validity of licences to the end of January 2021, but at the same time [we] need to be looking at outsourcing this function to third party agents, which will make it a lot easier for people to renew their licences,” he said.

Attempts to obtain comment from Ayanda Allie Paine, spokesperson for Mbalula, and national transport department media liaison officers were unsuccessful.

In 2007, then Ombudsman for Short Term Insurance Brian Martin said that should his office receive a complaint where an insurer has rejected a claim because the driver did not have a valid driver’s licence, or a vehicle was not roadworthy due to an expired licence disc, “we would not necessarily support the decision”.

“To determine an equitable outcome, we would ask the insurer to demonstrate prejudice as a result of the failure to be in possession of a valid licence,” he said.

Card format licence holders better off

However, Martin stressed there are different legal implications for drivers if they fail to convert their identity document driver’s licence to the card format, as opposed to renewing their card format licence.

If they fail to convert their identity document licence to a card licence they will no longer be deemed to be a licensed driver and will have to be retested, he said.

But Martin said the failure to renew a card licence is different, as a motorist will still be in possession of a valid licence, albeit without the required proof, and may be subject to a fine if stopped by a traffic officer for not being in possession of a valid drivers’ licence.

“However any insurance claim you may have should not be affected, as you will still be deemed to be a licensed driver,” he said.

Pamela Ramagaga, GM: Insurance Risks at the SA Insurance Association (Saia), said the non-life insurance industry would abide by the legislative extensions announced by the government and, beyond these extended dates, would make the necessary concessions on all valid claims in consideration of the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown situation.

Ramagaga said decisions on claims would therefore be based on the merits of each claim in its entirety and referred to the case precedence of the Ombudsman for Short Term Insurance ruling in 2004.

The ombud in this case ruled against an insurer and advised that the insured was a licensed driver but had omitted to comply with the formalities of renewing their licence.

Be proactive

But Ramagaga said Saia recommends that policyholders make a concerted effort to renew their licences and, where possible, “to proactively alert their brokers or insurers where their licences have expired or will expire beyond the extended periods given at law”.

“It would provide an opportunity to the insurer to note [this] in their policy profile and therefore avoid disputes when there is a claim,” she said.

Ramagaga added that should any policyholder believe their claim has been unfairly treated, Saia recommends that they first log a complaint with the respective insurer’s complaints department against any repudiation deemed unfair.

She said the policyholder should also take comfort that all valid claims would be measured against the legislative considerations of Treating Customers Fairly.

“Therefore, should the internal company processes still seem unfair, the policyholder has a right of recourse with the [ombudsman] against the merits of the claim for review.”

Listen to Dudu Ramela’s interview with Christelle Colman of Old Mutual Insure:

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I remember not so long ago when a driving license was valid for ever. The 5 year renewal is just a scam brought in to enrich another cadre of our despicable leadership. Just another tax. Because they can.

Yep.they wanna milk you everyway possible

You mean, Shabir Shaik….. he owned the company that printed these cards.

Shabir Shaik –> Zuma

Well said, boomgloom!

….and ditto for Firearm licenses (apart from collecting application fees, it also serves an agenda to disarm the population).

Actually a drivers license is still valid for ever. This article’s heading is just clickbait. The card expires and needs to be renewed, not the license. An insurance claim cannot be voided because your card expired.

I thought that the ID book licenses were invalidated years ago, so that’s a red herring…if you’ve been driving on an inavli

Also, this looks like insurers trying to wiggle out of paying claims. They need to be dealt with with a firm hand (assuming the government can comprehend the issue).

Finally: “ online booking system that people 60 and older do not have to book online; it encourages them to visit their local DLTC to be assisted.” sounds brilliant: make the highest risk people visit a DLTC, hoping that the brilliant people there know about this directive and allow them to jump the queue…otherwise they can spend some time waiting- on the plus side, after standing around at the DLTC, they may not need a license after all…since they would be dead from Covid.

You cannot get a booking unless you go to China.

…once these so-called Chinese “police stations” in SA operates as a full service one day, they may just as well offer local Govt services…..they will be more efficient than our local authorities! At half the price!

The whole system of drivers license renewal is ridiculous. It could all be done on line with a certificate from a registered optician, which should really only be necessary for people over the age of 65 or 70. the drivers license can be couriered to the applicant. I managed to renew my British passport totally on line from start to finish including couriering documents to UK and the passport arriving at my home took 10 days!

Yes indeed. But bear in mind Britain is a 1st world country.

SA is in essence a 3rd world country, with (shrinking) “pockets of excellence”.

Yet another government shambles.
Note to all car owners/drivers …… just do as the taxi drivers do …..ignore all rules and regulations and if caught out, threaten the gangster state with violence. They’ll soon back off.

The standard insurance policy normally includes at least ten pages of barely legible exclusions and caveats in fine printed “legalese” , specifically designed to provide multiple reasons why insurance companies cannot pay out legitimate claims. All manner of reasons (excuses) are sought to circumvent and delay payouts.

It’s a contract, not a free for all…I suggest you read it!

Says the insurance salesman….!

Yeah, actually it is a free for all – on the insurers side !!

Further, fully reading the contract would make most ppl NOT want to take out insurance

Which will become the case as this shady practice of insures ducking and diving their obligations to increase the bottom line at all costs eventually causes the whole industry to collapse.

Which it presently is doing !

Insurance agreements are one sided, not negotiable. Is this legal?

@Gismho Agreed just ask the business owners who thought they had business interruption cover and when COVID-19 hit found out they didn’t.

Insurance policy’s is nothing more than a ponzi scheme. everyone pays in and the company pays out as little as possible. Keeping most for the owners. JUST LIKE A PONZI SCHEME

A renewal is just that : a renewal of the expired card, same as when your Visa card expires you still have an account. If you needed to rewrite the exam and redo the practical it would be different issue. You still have a drivers license but your card is expired.

Post Office was absolutely useless and slow…. over crowded ….etc

At present, and for months now, all municipal offices and the post Office locally have been closed. (not even a notice). I’m stumped.

After two weeks trying I got an appointment at Marlboro and was in and out in surprisingly short time.

Main problem was that my daughter had a traffic fine that I paid a year ago but did not reflect on the eNatis computer. Thus I ended paying twice because I did not want to stand in a covid queue to sort it out.

Covid-19 and lockdown have in any case shown that ALL INSURANCE is only relative.

End of comments.

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