By: Greta Goosen at MiWay Insurance
As a result of the administrative backlogs, Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula has extended the validity of all drivers’ licenses that expired between 26 March 2020 and 31 August 2021 until 31 March 2022, offering South African motorists some much-needed breathing room as the Department of Transport seeks to work through the current backlog of approximately two million expired license cards.
However, in light of ongoing delays and lengthy waiting times, many drivers are wondering whether their presence on the road will still be considered legal as the deadline draws near, and what the implications might be for their insurance cover should they be required to file a claim.
No expiry on drivers’ license validity
The good news for licensed drivers is that while the legal document itself is valid for a limited time only, the license itself doesn’t expire as such, which means that the absence of an up-to-date document isn’t cause for immediate rejection of a claim. In fact, many insurers are taking a more lenient approach to reviewing claims considering the unprecedented situation, evaluating on a case-by-case basis based on the merits of individual applications.
Judging each case on its merits
That said, motorists are urged not to wait until the last minute to file applications for expired license cards, as this could lengthen and, in certain cases, compromise the claims process. According to a statement released by the South African Insurers Association (SAIA), insurers are obliged to consider the merits of all applications irrespective of the current status of the applicant’s license but are entitled to deny claims should the absence of a valid license prove directly relevant to the incident under consideration.
While you wait
If you have applied for the renewal of your expired license card or have lost your driver’s license, you are entitled to apply for a temporary license, which is valid for six months and can be issued at any driving license testing center (DLTC).
Keep your receipts
Thanks to a new online payments system introduced by the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), all South Africans will now be able to make their applications online prior to presenting themselves for fingerprints, photos and eye tests. You’d be well advised to apply online, making sure to keep your proof of payment and receipt, which will enable you to demonstrate proof of intent and justify any claims made whilst not in possession of a valid license card.
Consult with your insurer
In their statement, SAIA also called for motorists to take a proactive approach to license renewals, urging those experiencing difficulties to get in touch with their insurers ahead of time, supplying proof of application where necessary, so that the insurer in question can make the necessary concessions for valid claims that might be filed in future.
If you’re one of the many South African drivers affected by the current backlog, you’d be well advised to initiate the renewal process sooner rather than later, as waiting until the last minute could potentially put you at risk should you be involved in an accident.
Remember that, while all claims will be considered during the current circumstances, driving without a valid license is still considered illegal, so if you’re able to document your renewal attempts made in good faith, you’re far less likely to find yourself financially compromised in the event of an accident.