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Important car insurance details to check for a cross-border road trip

If you’re planning a road trip to one of South Africa’s neighbouring countries this December, it’s important to find out beforehand if you will retain cover from your insurer once you cross the border.

Not all insurance policies protect their holders if something happens to them outside of their home country, so it’s worth making sure that yours will remain in effect before leaving South Africa in your rear-view mirror.

Avoiding a sticky situation

The first detail to check is whether the country, or countries, you are visiting are covered under your car insurance policy, even if you are just driving through one to get to the other.

“Most South African car insurance policies provide coverage in neighbouring countries, including Angola, Botswana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, eSwatini, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe,” said digital insurance platform Naked.

“However, the extent of this coverage can vary. Some insurers might limit the amount of time that your car can be out of the country to remain covered.”

Next, it’s imperative to understand what type of coverage is needed in the nation you are driving to, and if your current insurance is sufficient.

Different countries have different rules and regulations and may require all road users regardless of nationality to have comprehensive insurance, or at the very least third-party liability insurance.

“In many neighbouring countries, such as Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Namibia, Mozambique, Malawi, Lesotho, and Botswana, it is a legal requirement to have third-party insurance,” said Naked.

“This is important to protect you from people making claims against you for bodily injury or property damage you might have caused.”

Most insurers don’t offer this third-party cover once you cross the South African border, however, so be sure to get this before you go. Naked noted that third-party liability insurance can usually be purchased at the border post or from Outdoor Warehouse.

Another critical aspect of cross-border road trips is to have a plan for if your car breaks down and you need a towing service.

Most insurers stipulate that you must get the car back to the border on your own dime, and from there on out, they will have it towed to the nearest repair centre and process the claim as normal. However, it remains vital to inform your insurer of the incident as soon as possible.

“It’s important to check these details before your trip, as the cost and availability of such services can differ significantly between countries,” advised Naked.

Other important details to look out for include:

  • Whether there are limitations on your cover for countries experiencing civil unrest
  • Whether there are time limits on how long your car can remain outside South Africa while still maintaining coverage
  • If travelling for work, whether business use of your car outside South Africa is covered

“Understanding the ins and outs of your car insurance policy when travelling outside South Africa is crucial. It gives you the opportunity to really relax on holiday without having to stress about possible expenses and legal hassles,” concludes Naked.

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