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Motor Insurance
Friday, June 1, 2007
All is not lost

The Ombudsman for Short-Term Insurance points out that there are different legal implications if you fail to convert your old driver’s licence contained in your identity document to the new card licence, as opposed to failing to renew your card licence every five years.

“For some years we have seen the introduction of a card based driver’s licence, which replaced the driver’s licence contained in your identity document,” notes Brian Martin, Ombudsman for Short-Term Insurance. And there are different and distinct legal implications between those who fail to convert to the new system, as opposed to those who fail to renew their licence every five years.
In the first instance, if you fail to convert your identity document version, you will no longer be deemed a licensed driver. As such you will have to be retested.
The failure to renew a card licence, however, would not mean you were ‘unlicensed’. So any insurance claim in this case should not be affected, all other things being equal.
Of course, you could still be liable to a fine for not being able to provide proof to the nice traffic officer.
Regarding the issue of foreign licences, South Africa acknowledges certain international driving licences. But this might become problematic if a person obtains his permanent resident status, and does not convert his foreign licence to a local one within a year. “A person with a foreign driver’s licence needs to apply to their country’s consulate to obtain proof of their licence and submit this to local authorities who would then issue a card based driver’s licence. The person will not have to undergo a driving test to demonstrate their driving skills,” explains Mr Martin.
South Africa is also a signatory to a treaty with SADC countries whereby we accept the validity of licences obtained in such countries.
Of course, the whole issue has been thrown into disarray by government’s incredibly inept introduction of the new eNatis software system (which is supposed to assist with the issuing and renewal of licences). Drivers must be seething at the gills at the unnecessary time-consuming and costly delays of waiting pointlessly in long queues to get service.
Clearly members of the public should apply for their renewals well in advance of the expiry date. Mine comes up May 2009. Should I apply now? But if you are stuck in the situation without a renewed card, there is hope from an insurance point of view.
Comments Mr Martin, “Should we 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.” By Nigel Benetton
Footnote: The office of the Ombudsman for Short-Term Insurance can be reached on 0860 726 890, or by email to info@osti.co.za. The web site is www.osti.co.za

Copyright © Insurance Times and Investments® Vol:20.5 1st June, 2007
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