Car insurance is there to protect you financially in case of an accident on the road and damage sustained to your vehicle. However, if your car is not in roadworthy condition, your insurance claim could be rejected.

If you have an accident and it turns out that your vehicle does not meet roadworthy criteria, your insurance claim will most likely be rejected. This will leave you stuck with the bill for any repairs to damage that occurs to your car as a result of the accident. Naturally, this can be very costly and inconvenient.

It’s also important to note that if the condition of your vehicle was material to the loss (e.g. if faulty brakes or bad wheel alignment caused the accident), the insurer is entitled to repudiate your claim for damage or loss, and also the claim of any third party.


What Does Roadworthy Condition Mean?

Roadworthiness means that a vehicle is in a suitable operating condition and meets acceptable standards for safe driving. By making sure your car is roadworthy, you can minimise the risk of your vehicle insurance claim being rejected.


Meeting Roadworthy Requirements

Below is a list of items that must be maintained in order to ensure your car meets the minimum standards of roadworthiness:

  • The engine and VIN numbers must match those on the registration document.
  • There must be no sign of tampering with the engine and VIN numbers.
  • The body or chassis must be free of damage and rust. Only a vehicle examiner can determine to which extent such damage or rust is acceptable.
  • All doors must be firmly attached at the hinges and easy to open,
  • The speedometer and odometer must be in working order.
  • All seatbelts, all lights and indicators must be in working order.
  • The car’s windscreen must be free of damage, and the driver’s view unobstructed.
  • Any windows that are designed to open and close must do so easily.
  • Windscreen wipers must be in working condition, and the wiper blades should be in good condition
  • Wheels and tyres must be the correct size.
  • Tyres should have a tread depth of at least 1,6mm.
  • Brakes should be in good working condition.
  • There should be no leaks from the hydraulic system.
  • Shock absorbers should be in good working condition.
  • Wheels must be properly aligned.
  • The steering system must be fully operational.
  • The engine compartment must be free of damage or leaks.
  • The battery must be properly secured.
  • The transmission must be in good working order.
  • There should be no excessive smoke or noise coming from the exhaust.

Did You Know? The Ombudsman for Short-term Insurance reports that neglected tyres and braking systems are the most common reasons for car insurance claims being rejected.

Performing Regular Roadworthy Checks

It is legally required that every car in use on South African roads is roadworthy. This applies to private cars as well as public buses and commercial trucks. Make sure you get your car checked annually, to make sure it’s in sound roadworthy condition.

Sometimes it can be hard to tell whether a car that looks to be in decent condition has some issues that make it unroadworthy. Perform regular checks in these key areas, in addition to annual professional roadworthy assessments:

  • Seatbelts: Check that your seatbelts can easily extend, fasten and unclasp.
  • Tyres: Check that the tread is at least 1.6mm deep across the whole surface of each tyre, including the spare tyre.
  • Electrical systems: Make sure that your indicators, wipers, wiring, lights, battery and hooter are all in working order.
  • Brakes: Check the brake fluid levels and get a trusted professional to replace the disc pads if needed.

Ensuring that your vehicle is roadworthy be getting an annual roadworthy condition test will improve the likelihood of your car insurance claim being paid out.