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The insurance risk posed by AARTO

By Staff Writer

Recent reports have suggested the national roll-out of the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Act will be introduced from April 1st.

However, there are concerns that the system to issue notices is not yet ready with the result that motorists may end up driving on the roads with a suspended license, effectively voiding their insurance policy.

A report commissioned by the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) into two pilot Aarto projects found that 60% of the addresses of motorists stored on the Electronic National Administration Traffic Information System (eNaTiS) were incorrect.

According to Helen Szemerei, CEO at IntegriSure, this means that the majority of motorists will not receive notices of points on their licenses.

“Under Aarto, motorists incur points on their license for traffic offences. If they incur too many then their license may be suspended for a fixed period of time. However, if this happens without their knowledge motorists may be under the impression that their license is valid and continue driving. If these motorists are then involved in an accident then their insurance policy is unlikely to pay out.”

“This could have devastating consequences for someone who is involved in an accident and only then discovers that they will be held liable for all costs, as they may have to pay for repairs to their own car as well as a third party’s.”

Szemerei says the principle behind Aarto should be welcomed as it is to encourage better driver behaviour, which remains a huge challenge in South Africa.

“Fining motorists for misdemeanours on the roads has not helped to improve our driving habits with many drivers still speeding excessively and even worse, drinking and driving. However, if this project is to be successful then it has to be implemented correctly.”

She says all administrative issues need to be addressed urgently and resolved prior to the April 1 deadline.

“Projects similar to Aarto have been implemented with great success in other countries, such as the UK, which also operates a points system on driving licenses. However, we do need to ensure that the roll-out of a local system is done in a fair and sustainable manner.  Many Insurers will no doubt, want to make very sure that the system is indeed fair so as not unfairly prejudice any client.”

“We already have a huge problem in the motor insurance industry in South Africa. Research suggests that of all the vehicles on the roads in South Africa, only around 35% are actually insured.”

“It is critical that we do not worsen this already alarming situation by leaving those few motorists who do choose to take out an insurance policy in a precarious position by suspending their licences without their knowledge. Aarto is a positive development for South Africa, particularly if it helps to improve our driving habits, but it must be done in a structured manner with buy-in from all stakeholders,” concludes Szemerei

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