Some countries require you to have car insurance when you own a car. Different countries have different rules and require different kinds of insurance cover. The penalty for driving without insurance in those countries can range from hefty fines to possible jail time.
So, what is the penalty for driving without insurance in South Africa and could I face possible jail time for it? This is a daunting thing to think about and you might not ever want to think of such horrible outcomes but it is a necessary question to explore.
We explain the penalties and answer all of your possible questions on what happens if you drive without car insurance in South Africa.
Is Driving Without Insurance A Crime?
A motorised vehicle is defined as any vehicle that has a motor and is self-propelled. In South Africa, you are allowed to get your driver’s license at the age of 18. You can’t drive without a license, but can you drive without insurance?
In South Africa, driving without insurance is not illegal. In total, there are about 10 million car owners in South Africa right now. Approximately 70% of those motorists do not have insurance. If you have car insurance and are in an accident, there is a high probability that the third party will not be able to cover the damages.
So, even though you’re not committing a crime, by not having insurance, you’re opening yourself up to a whole lot of financial difficulties.
What’s The Penalty For Not Having Car Insurance?
Legally there are no fines or ticket penalties for driving without insurance in South Africa. However, you might still need to hand over a few Rands if you’re driving uninsured.
Punishment For Driving Without Insurance
The question you need to ask yourself is if driving without car insurance is something you can afford to do. If you can afford to pay exorbitant amounts for damages out of pocket, then you don’t need to worry about insurance. Otherwise, insurance is a good safety net to have in case of any motor emergencies.
If your vehicle is financed by a financial institution, then by law, it needs insurance cover. The bank wants to know that its assets are protected and can be repaired and replaced while it’s still theirs. Motorcycles are more susceptible to theft or accidents than cars so insurance cover is a must.
Penalty For Not Having Car Insurance
If you financed the payments of the motor vehicle yourself, you don’t risk receiving any fines or penalties for not having insurance. If you’re still paying off car loans, you might receive some sort of penalty.
Can You Drive A Car Without Insurance?
By now, you might be scratching your head wondering if it’s not illegal to not have car insurance then why bother having it?
Instead, we shouldn’t be asking ourselves “can you drive without insurance” but rather “can you afford to drive without insurance?” If the damage is too severe to be able to fix it, your car could be written off.
The punishment for driving a self-financed vehicle without insurance would not be a monetary penalty issued by the government. The monetary punishment would be the amount of cash you’d have to pay out of pocket to get damages fixed. Not having car insurance puts you at deep financial risk.
If your car is financed by a financial institution like a bank, then you have to be insured with comprehensive cover. If you cancel your insurance or stop paying your premiums while you’re still paying the vehicle off, you’re in breach of contract.
This puts you at risk of losing your car. If you can’t afford your insurance premiums, rather change insurance coverage plans. A cheaper cover plan is better than scrapping the whole cover.
What Does Comprehensive Insurance Cover?
Comprehensive automobile cover is the complete insurance package. It covers everything you might need in insurance including theft, fire, damage by a third party and more.
Comprehensive car Insurance covers:
- Damage to your car and third party’s car
- Accident costs
- Theft and Hijacking
- Fire damage
- Replacements of car keys and remotes
- Trauma treatment
Motorcycles also count as motor vehicles so it’s important to know more about what motorcycle insurance covers as well. Motorcycle insurance is more expensive than car insurance, but you can compare the costs yourself.
Comprehensive motorcycle insurance covers:
- Hail damage
- Medical expenses for the driver
- Riding gear and accessories
Getting The Most Affordable Insurance Cover
Car insurance doesn’t have to be expensive, there are options for affordable car insurance. You can keep your premiums low by:
- Increase your excess– If and when you claim you’ll pay a higher excess, but month-to-month premiums stay low.
- Do a certified driving course- Doing this course will increase your driving experience and put you at a lower risk for accidents
- Increasing your security– Adding more security measures like tracking devices mean your vehicle is at a lower risk and needs less insurance cover.
- Review your cover- Update your cover if any details change, like moving to a safer neighbourhood or buying a new car.
- Only claim when necessary– You can receive cashback if you’re claim-free for a few years.
- Shop around- Review and compare insurance policies to find the best deals for your needs.
Is It Illegal To Drive Without Insurance?
So, is it illegal to not have car insurance? In short, no it’s not illegal. If you’re caught driving without insurance, fines and penalties won’t be added to your record in South Africa. Although it’s not illegal, it’s still good to have insurance for unforeseen moments.
If the bank is financing your car, for example, then you cannot drive without comprehensive insurance cover. If you cancel your insurance while you’re still paying off your car loan, you risk losing your car. It is the law to have comprehensive insurance if your vehicle is under financing.
Whether you’re driving a car or a motorcycle, insurance can be expensive. However, paying for damages and health insurance can be even more costly.