Motorists now have a further three months to renew car and driving licences that expired during the hard lockdown. Picture: DENIS DROPPA
Motorists now have a further three months to renew car and driving licences that expired during the hard lockdown. Picture: DENIS DROPPA

The validity period of vehicle licences that expired during the lockdown  period levels 5 and 4 has been extended by another three months, to November 30.

In early June, the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) had announced that all learners' licences, drivers' licences, motor vehicle licence discs, temporary permits, roadworthy certificates and professional driving permits (PrDPs) that expired during March 26 to May 31, were deemed valid and their validity period was extended with 90 days from June 1 to August 31.

In a media briefing in Pretoria last Thursday, transport department director-general Alec Moemi acknowledged that there had been challenges at driving licence testing centres (DLTCs), some of which had been intermittently shut down due to staff members testing positive for Covid-19.

He announced a further 90-day grace period to enable authorities time to deal with a backlog. The grace period applies only licence discs that expired between the period March 27 and May 31, where affected motorists won’t be charged penalties or arrears. Those that expired before or after those dates are not covered, and will incur penalties if not yet renewed.

The decision by the department of transport to extend the validity period of licences to the end of November is to be welcomed as a partial victory for motorists, says the Automobile Association (AA).

This follows an #ExtendtheLicence petition by the AA to extend the period to the end of January 2021 to give DLTCs enough time to renew driving licences and the Post Office to process discs.

“The extension to the end of November is a great start, and we certainly welcome this move by the department of transport. It’s the correct decision, and indicates that the department is aware of the problems motorists are facing. However, we still believe this does not provide enough time to deal with the backlogs and we will continue with our petition which seeks extension until at least the end of January next year,” says Willem Groenewald, CEO of the AA.

An extension to the end of January 2021 would provide motorists with breathing space to get their licences renewed without the threat of legal action or complications relating to insurance claims, says the AA.

Motor News polled a few insurance companies to see whether an expired licence would affect a motorist’s cover, and the consensus is that it wouldn’t.

“We would not reject a claim for an expired licence if that expiry is due to delays caused by Covid-19 affecting the ability to have it renewed,” says Outsurance’s Head of Client Services Natasha Kuwalesor. “As a general rule we do not consider expired licences a valid rejection reason, especially if there is no materiality to the loss”.

According to King Price, if your licence card is 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.

“What you certainly need to do is renew your licence as soon as possible — but it 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 an accident,” says King Price’s customer experience partner Wynand van Vuuren.

Discovery Insure expressed the same sentiment, saying drivers and vehicle owners will be recognised as legally licenced should they need to claim against an insurance plan provided they are in possession of a valid licence, albeit expired.

Additional reporting by Phuti Mpyane

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