Is your car insured in an accident if you missed the driving licence renewal deadline?

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The damage on my bakkie after my crash into Linda's taxi.
The damage on my bakkie after my crash into Linda's taxi.
Margaret Pretorius

 • The lockdown expired driving licence deadline expired on 5 May 2022.
 • The RTMC has warned motorists  that insurance companies might not cover accident claims due to expired cards.
• One insurance company says this is untrue.

The Road Traffic Management Corporation is warning motorists to renew their expired driving licence cards or face hefty fines and possibly not have their insurance companies covering claims in the event of a crash with expired licence cards.

Earlier in May, the RTMC had announced the final deadline for motorists to renew their expired driving licence cards was 5 May. The RTMC also warned motorists that an expired driving licence card could mean insurance companies would not pay out accident claims due to invalid documents. 

READ | Driving with an expired licence card? RTMC warns motorists 'no excuses will be entertained'

In a statement by the RTMC earlier in May, the agency said: "Driving with an expired driving licence card will also have negative consequences in case of motor vehicle collisions as insurance companies may decline claims made by drivers who failed to renew their cards."

However, one insurance company claims this is untrue.

Your driving licence never expires; only your driving licence card does - hence there are no penalties due when renewing even a year - or five - after its expiration date. However, the government's loophole over this is that we are required by law to have a valid driving licence card in our possession when driving.

driving licence
South African driving licence

The driving licence card renewal deadline has expired, and if you've missed it and ended up in a car crash, will your insurance company cover your claim?

You might ask if you will still be insured if your driving licence has expired or if your renewed card is stuck in the current backlog, or if you missed the renewal deadline in the event of a motor vehicle accident. That's the question many motorists are asking right now.

So how do insurance companies operate in this regard? 

We asked King Price's client experience partner Wynand van Vuuren. He says the short answer is no; an expired driving licence due to your renewal in the backlog will not affect your cover.

Van Vuuren says: "The important issue to be aware of is the principle of 'causal link' – which means the reason for a claim rejection must be directly linked to the cause of the crash or loss.

"For example, all insurance policies state that your vehicle must always be in a roadworthy condition. But if your tyres are worn, and someone drives into you while stationary, an insurer cannot reject your claim, as there was no causal link between the worn tyres and the accident.

"By the same token, if your vehicle licence disc has expired, and an accident or crash occurs, or your vehicle is stolen, insurers will have to pay those claims, as the licence would not be material to the incident."

Van Vuuren adds that you certainly need to renew your driving licence as soon as possible, but an expired one won't affect your cover. "Just make sure the vehicle is always roadworthy, and there are no additional factors that can cause or contribute to a crash," he says.

It's also a good idea to pull out your vehicle insurance policy and read the fine print, so you know what your document entails. Or, perhaps other clauses could exempt your insurance from paying out any claims due to other factors.

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