Earlier this week we found a massive wake-up call to fleet operators at the announcement by the RTMC of the large numbers of truck drivers and public transport drivers who are not validly licensed.
In the story titled “Close to half a million freight and public drivers do not qualify to be on South African roads says RTMC” we found some rather alarming statistics on the numbers of illegal drivers on our roads!
Wheels24 also commented on this in a story titled “500 000 ‘pro drivers’ loose without docs”
The Arrive Alive website was asked for comment on we replied with the following:
“What we know would be true is that there is a breach of contract in such an instance between the insurer and the insured client. The insurance contract would be based on the agreement that a roadworthy vehicle will be transported at all times by a legally licensed driver . If these conditions are not complied with the insurer will in my mind have a right to repudiate such a claim should it arise..”
We have since confirmed this with several insurers and would like to share a comment received from the truck insurance experts from Hollard:
“The insurance policy clearly excludes cover for a client where a client is not validly licensed and this would extend as far as the PRDP for trucks and taxi drivers. The Insurer does not even have to prove this was the cause of the claim as the Ombudsman will not assist anyone breaking the law.
On the issue of a roadworthy vehicle most policies actually state the lack of road worthiness must have been material to the claim. For example if a driver’s tyres are smooth and the vehicles skids after breaking, the claim will not be paid.”
It is also worth noting what Justice Project South Africa has to say on this matter. Howard Dembovsky emphasizes the need for greater enforcement on this matter:
“I completely concur with your assertions on this. Not only may an insurance company repudiate any claim, but I can say with almost absolute certainty that they would. Insurance companies are in the business of minimising their risks and pay-outs and the lack of a PrDP when operating a vehicle of the class that requires one essentially means that the driver is unlicensed to operate the vehicle. What absolutely gobsmacks me though is the fact that the RTMC has made these assertions yet we rarely hear of any law enforcement exercises where HGV drivers are taken to task over this issue.”
Every driver who drives without the required driver license is breaking the law. If negligence has to be established in the event of a road crash, driving without a valid license would be a first step to confirm that the conduct of the driver deviated from that of a reasonable driver. [ The Pinetown truck crash is an example where the license was found to be fraudulent]
It is important to emphasize that your insurance will only cover damages of the driver and vehicle is legally licensed – you will not be able to challenge the insurer who repudiates such an insurance claim – a risk no transport operator can afford to take!