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Cross-border trips: Is your car insurance still valid?

Insurance 101

Discover if your South African car insurance covers cross-border travel. Essential tips on policy checks, local laws, and required documents.

When planning a trip outside South Africa, one important aspect you might not be thinking about is how your car insurance works beyond the country's borders. Whether it's a leisurely drive to Namibia or a business trip to Zimbabwe, understanding your car insurance policy is essential. This article aims to demystify car insurance coverage for South African vehicles travelling outside of South Africa.

Firstly, check whether the country (countries) you’re visiting are covered under your policy

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. 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.

Then, understand what cover is needed in the country you are travelling to and whether your insurance is sufficient

Different countries have different laws and regulations, so remember to do your research before you go. This includes thinking about what things can go wrong and what cover you might need. Here’s a list to help you:

Should you have cover for accidental damage and theft of your car?

Most countries don’t require that you have comprehensive cover covering your own car for theft and damage but it’s a good idea to have any way to cover you if something bad does happen.

Do you need cover for damage done to another person’s property or causing bodily injury to someone?

In many neighbouring countries, such as Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Namibia, Mozambique, Malawi, Lesotho, and Botswana, it is a legal requirement to have third-party insurance. 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 cover once you cross the South African border, so be sure to buy this cover before you go.

What happens when you break down and need towing services?

A critical aspect often overlooked is what to do when you break down and need a tow when you're outside South Africa. The general rule of thumb is that you have to cover the cost of getting your car back into South Africa. Once it’s back in the country, your insurer will have it towed to the nearest repair centre. It's important to check these details before your trip, as the cost and availability of such services can differ significantly between countries.

Some other things to look out for in your policy

  • There might be limitations on your cover for countries experiencing civil unrest.
  • Many insurance policies specify time limits on how long your car can remain outside South Africa while still maintaining coverage.
  • Also business use of your car outside South Africa is often not covered.

Here’s a checklist for things you might need when you cross the border

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

Got more questions about your car insurance coverage outside of South Africa? Reach out to your insurer for more information. Or, feel free to drop your questions in our inbox at


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