By Morné Stoltz, MiWay Head of Business Insurance
If your business involves the transportation of people, ordinary goods or dangerous goods, it is critical that your drivers have a Professional Driver’s Permit. Without it, your insurance will not provide cover and you risk damaging liability claims.
One of the basic conditions of any vehicle insurance policy is that the driver has the relevant qualification. When it comes to the conveyance of people and goods, it is essential that the driver has a Professional Driver’s Permit or the insurance cover will be repudiated.
So if your business has any element of logistics involved, or you are involved in transporting passengers and goods, it is essential you ensure all your drivers have these Permits. This would cover Uber drivers, as well as taxi drivers. Without the Permit, driver, passengers, vehicle and goods would all not be covered in the event of an accident.
Many South Africans see transport as a viable sector in which to start a small business. However, I suspect that many of them forget this particular angle and thus make themselves ineligible for insurance. The lack of proper licensing could also mean that if they are involved in an accident, they might be unable to claim against the other party’s insurance even if they do not have insurance.
Of course, anyone facing a damages claim for negligent driving and who did not have a Permit would find their case considerably weakened.
To obtain a Professional Driver’s Permit, which replaces the old Public Driver’s Permit, an individual must meet certain criteria. Applicants need to have a normal driving licence and be certified medically fit by a doctor. They might also need to have been certified by an approved training body for certain kinds of vehicles. They must not have been convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol, or of reckless or negligent driving, within the past five years. The application needs to be registered with the police, who will also take fingerprints.
Of course, it goes without saying that a Professional Driver may not allow an unqualified person to operate his or her vehicle on a public road.
Another important issue for business-owners to note is that fraud is a significant challenge. Fake Professional Driver’s Permits are rife. Agencies exist who will provide assurance that a Permit is genuine, or the business must itself make enquiries.
The best advice I can give to any business involved in transportation is to make sure your drivers have a Professional Driver’s Permit, and know when each one expires. There is no grace period as there is with a normal driver’s licence, so validity lapses immediately on expiry, and this would mean the insurance cover would also be compromised.
Insurance is a key survival tool in this sector: make sure your business benefits from it when the chips are down.