YOU HIT ME! It is important to know what to do when a foreign driver hits your car. Image: iStock
Cape Town - With South Africa being one of the most beautiful countries in the world, it’s a given that it would be one of the more favourable tourist destinations.
Many tourists can be seen on, for instance, on Cape Town's streets, some driving themselves around, most likely using a rental car. But what would happen if that visitor was to hit your vehicle?
Wheels24 asked Howard Dembovsky, national chairperson of Justice Project of SA (JPSA) and MiWay insurance to shed light on the matter.
MiWay outlines the following procedures when involved in a motor vehicle accident. The first responses should remain the same as if it was a South African citizen. They suggest the only difference would be the type of information required from the tourist/driver.
1. Safety first: Make sure the scene is safe. Attend to any injured persons. If you don’t have sufficient first aid experience, do not attempt any first aid.
2. Notify emergency services if needed.
3. Notify your insurance help line in order to utilise towing, or move vehicles that are obstructing the road. Ensure that you only use towing authorised by your insurer.
4. In cases where property got damaged or injuries have occurred, you need to remain on the scene until the police arrive and permit you to leave the scene.
READ: Been in a crash? How to get a copy of an accident report
5. The following needs to be obtained:
· Full names
· ID numbers / Passport numbers
· Country of origin
· International driving licence details
· Details of their location whilst visiting South Africa (hotels, family, etc)
· Addresses abroad
· Telephone details both local and abroad
· Car registration number(s)
· Descriptions of the cars (e.g. car brand, model and colour)
· Details of police and traffic officers and ambulance personnel
· Details of tow truck persons
· Photos of the scene and damages incurred
· In cases where diplomats are involved, the police attending to the scene will inform the necessary office.
6. Report the accident to the nearest police station within 24 hours.
7. Don’t make any statements admitting fault.
Have you ever been on the receiving end of a tourist driving into you? Share your thoughts via email, Facebook and Twitter.
The claiming process
Even if it is a tourist involved, the process of claiming from insurance does not differ.
According to Dembovsky, if you are comprehensively insured, the process of recovering losses from the other party is the job of the insurance company and not yours.
Dembovsky stresses: "Preferably get a clear photograph of their driving licence. You will then need to report the collision to a police station within 24 hours."
READ: Insurance claims - Know the 'no-claim bonus' fine print
MiWay adds: "If the person liable for damages to an insured client is a person from another country, the insurance provider will still try and recover the damage. The insurance provider will follow up with the visitor and will attempt to get the visitor to settle the damage before they leave the country.
"However, should the person return to their country before the claim has been settled, the insurance provider has the option to decide whether it will be economically viable to litigate across borders. Should the matter be ripe for trial, the tourist needs to appear in an SA court for trial - a very costly option."
The visitor will be governed by the same obligations, regardless of whether they are citizens or not.
MiWay added: “Any person who visits our country needs to obey and oblige to our country’s laws. Depending on the actions, the relevant law will stipulate the correct sections and/or remedies.”
The South African law, however, does not include anything on this issue. According to Dembovsky, the South African law has no right to arrest or keep any foreigner in the country. Any visitor will be held liable for their actions in the same way that locals would.
Visitors are more likely to use rental vehicles, so what happens if the car the visitor has used is a rental?
MiWay noted: “The contractual agreements differ from the one rental company to the other. Some rental companies have a clause in their agreement where only the damage to the rental vehicle is covered. Other rental companies have a clause that stipulate and exempt the company from any liability claims may cause (in this case, the insurance provider will need to trace the driver themselves). With some rental companies, the liability is covered should the costumer has taken out extra liability cover when renting the car.”
Dembovsky adds: "It is my understanding that car hire companies offer insurance packages to all persons who hire their vehicles. I am not sure whether this is optional or mandatory, but I should imagine it is the latter. Obviously, if insurance is held, then the insurance company will be responsible for any claims arising out of a collision."