As a responsible driver, you want to make sure that your insured car is covered wherever, whenever, and however, you’re thinking of driving. However, cross-border travel comes with different checks and balances, and you need to be aware of them for your car to be protected before leaving South Africa.
It’s your responsibility as the driver to inform your insurer that you will be crossing the country’s border, and it’s the insurer’s responsibility to inform you of what you will be covered for in the event of an accident, a breakdown, or a car getting stolen in the country you’re driving to.
Your insurance policy has features that apply to the country you reside in, and the cross-border letter lets you know what you are covered for once you are in another country. The risk factors insured generally differ from country to country. For example, the crime rate and road conditions may vary, which affects the risk of insuring your car.
The legal owner of the car should be aware of the trip
If your car is still being financed, it is also your responsibility to notify your car financier, which is normally a bank. Until the car is paid off, it belongs to the financier, who should stay informed as to its whereabouts. You are legally required to inform the legal owner of the car that you will be driving it outside of the country, and there should be confirmation of permission granted.
Authorisation letter is needed if the car is a rental
If you are traveling in a rental, you need a letter of authority from the car hire company for the same reason as you’d need to notify a financier, if the car is under finance. It’s better to ask if you are not sure.
The availability of insurance options such as cross-border insurance, third-party liability, and overall cover may differ, which is also why your insurer needs to know before you leave the country. These differ from insurer to insurer and policy to policy, and it’s your responsibility to study your policy to understand the coverage you have.
Familiarise yourself with the regions you’ll be driving through
Research the quality of the infrastructure of the country you are driving to and ascertain whether roadside assistance will be available to you if needed. It is also advisable to make sure your car is in good driving condition, and that you always have emergency items, such as a first-aid kit, a reflector triangle, a jack, a pump, and a spare wheel, packed in the car.
Valid legal documents
Remember to take your valid driver’s license and passport/visa, and one for each of your passengers if you are tag-teaming the trip.
Certified registration papers
The car you are traveling with has to be proven as legally allowed to be on the road, meaning that it is not stolen and that it’s roadworthy.
You wouldn’t want anything to jeopardise your border crossing, or to be told that you can’t enter the country you are travelling to, so make sure the above boxes are ticked before you pack your bags and set off on your journey