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AARTO: Gear up for change

By Bertus Visser, Chief Executive of Distribution at PSG Insure.

You’re 15km per hour over the speed limit and don’t notice the camera that catches you as you pass… This scene may once have resulted in a fine of a few hundred rand, but going forward, will cost you a lot more. If you’re not yet familiar with the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) bill, here’s a recap:

On 16 August 2019, it was signed into law that road traffic offences will incur both a monetary fine and corresponding demerit points (points will vary depending on the offence). While the system will still take time to come into effect, preparing for what lies ahead – as well as driving safely in general – is the best way forward.

Your AARTO profile will almost be like a credit score: it will reflect a real-time record of all your driving dealings on one national system, with any points you accumulate tallying to one total. If you commit more than one driving infringement at a time, you will be assigned the demerit points that correspond to the most serious infringement.

If you accumulate 12 points, your licence will be suspended for three months (although there will be a facility to contest fines). Once reinstated, you will only be allowed to accumulate one point every three months. Three suspensions in total will result in your driver’s licence being cancelled. Further clarity will come on the consequences of accumulating more points than allowed once a suspended licence has been reinstated, but anyone who remembers going through their learners and drivers’ exams knows it’s not worth the risk to have to redo these.

What does this mean for insurance?

If your licence is suspended, you will have to notify your insurer immediately to update your policy. This could mean that you no longer qualify for comprehensive vehicle cover, as driving with a suspended licence is against the law and therefore uninsurable. Depending on the wording of your policy, it might be possible to keep your cover in place provided that another person such as a family member drives your car, but it will be essential to check this. Otherwise, you will only be able to cover your vehicle against theft and fire. Here are some scenarios to consider:

Changing driving habits will mean changing insurance requirements

If your licence is suspended and you can’t drive to work, your car will be parked elsewhere in the day. You may even let a friend or family member borrow it. If your car is broken into at home and you haven’t updated your daytime parking address, or your friend has an accident and you haven’t changed the regular driver noted in your policy, your claim will likely be repudiated. Always remember to update your policy as soon as any of your circumstances change.

Check the extent of your cover against theft

Be aware that insurance against theft only, may mean that some vehicle upgrades aren’t covered. It is best to check the level of cover you qualify for, disclosing all accessories and any additions. This will better align your policy with your car’s realistic market value.

Any black marks on your driving record are permanent

Non-disclosure has always been a reason for an insurer to repudiate a claim or cancel a policy. While you will need to provide permission for an insurer to access your AARTO information, if you are found to have lied about your driving record it will damage both your reputation and your ability to secure insurance in future. Any AARTO offences will be considered in your premium calculation, so it will help to keep your score as clear as possible.

Employers need to keep an eye

For employers who require staff to drive company vehicles – be it to client meetings, to deliver goods or services, or to move large stock or machinery – it will be a big concern if an employee has their licence suspended. Insurers always require drivers to have valid driver’s licences, so employers will need to conduct regular AARTO checks.

Safety first

While the demerit system remains controversial, the AARTO bill ultimately seeks to improve the safety of our roads. Road rules are there for a reason and should be followed in any case, but if doing so will help your pocket and your overall lifestyle (because let’s face it, losing your licence would be limiting), all the better. That text message can wait, you can’t be so late that you need to run that red light, and you should definitely make alternative arrangements to get home if you’ve had too much to drink. The alternatives are not worth the risk.

 

 

 



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