Ina Opperman

By Ina Opperman

Business Journalist

Car insurers will not reject claims if driver’s licence card is not renewed

The fact that your driver’s licence card has expired does not say anything about your ability to drive, insurers say.

Car insurers say they will not reject claims if your driver’s licence card is not renewed. Your driver’s licence does not expire, only the card does, provided you had a valid driver’s licence to start with.

The grace period for renewing driver’s licence cards expired today and many consumers who battled to renew their cards are worried that their insurers will not accept their claims if they drive now and get involved in an accident.

Luckily, this is the one thing you do not have to worry about. According to Thabo Manamela, head of quality and knowledge management at Santam, the company has taken note of the end of the grace period for driver’s licence renewals and acknowledges the concern among policyholders about their cover should they have a valid motor vehicle claim while in possession of an expired driver’s licence card.  

“Santam wants to clarify that the driver’s licence does not expire, only the card which requires renewal every five years does. The delay of the authorities in issuing a driver’s licence card does not mean that the driver is unlicensed and therefore Santam will not summarily penalise clients for the challenges faced by the department.”

ALSO READ: Mbalula lets drivers down – again

Still important to renew your driver’s license card

However, Santam advises policyholders to still take reasonable steps to ensure they apply for the renewal of their licence cards before they expire. Santam will accept proof, such as the receipt or temporary driver’s licence during claims until the challenges that are facing the department are resolved.

Ricardo Coetzee, head of Auto & General Insurance, says if the customer does not have a valid driver’s licence at the time of the loss due to a purely administrative process that is beyond the control of the customer, the expired licence will not affect a claim.

“We do urge customers to continue in their efforts to renew these licences as soon as possible as they are still unlicensed to be on the roads. We look at risk when assessing a claim and an administrative delay does not increase or decrease your risk in operating a vehicle.”

Francois Theron, deputy CEO of Discovery Insure, says drivers and vehicle owners will be recognised as legally licenced should they need to claim against a Discovery Insure insurance plan provided they have a valid, albeit expired, licence.

“We have encouraged our clients to plan around delays and renew their licences as are early as possible before expiry. Vehicle licences should be renewed as usual per the stipulated periods.”

ALSO READ: It’s D-day for motorists with expired driver’s licences – no excuses will be entertained

Reason for rejected claims must be directly linked to cause of accident

Wynand van Vuuren, King Price’s client experience partner, also says that an expired driver’s licence due to renewal backlog will not affect your cover.

“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 accident or loss.”

All insurance policies, for example, state that your vehicle must always be in a roadworthy condition. However, if your car tyres are worn and someone drives into you while your car is 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 licence disk has expired and an accident occurs or your vehicle is stolen, insurers will have to pay those claims, as the licence would not be material to the incident. Just make sure the vehicle is always roadworthy and there are no additional factors that can cause or contribute to an accident.”

Rudolf Britz, chief actuary at Momentum Insure, says in instances involving expired or invalid driving licences, each claim will be assessed based on its own merits and the materiality of driving with an expired licence, specifically where it was not within a client’s control to be able to renew it.

“It is important to distinguish between claims where a client never had a driving licence and where clients are driving with an expired licence for reasons out of their control. In cases where a client never had a licence and they are now driving without a valid driving licence, the circumstances will be different to that of a client who had a licence for many years and could just not renew his licence because of circumstances outside of his control.”

ALSO READ: 1.3 million expired licences – no more extensions, only fines, says Mbalula

Hollard Insure gives grace period until September

Hollard Insure has also decided to further extend its claims grace period to renew expired licences to 30 September 2022, but says this extension does not nullify the requirement for licences to be renewed.

“This implies that we will continue to settle our policyholders’ legitimate claims, where policyholders were driving with expired driver’s licence cards, until 30 September 2022, after which we will require our policy holders to renew expired licences before valid claims will be settled.”

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