What happens if your WOF expires during the lockdown?

Author
Melissa Nightingale, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 25 Mar 2020, 3:18PM
Will you still be covered by insurance if your warrant of fitness runs out during the lockdown? Photo / File
Will you still be covered by insurance if your warrant of fitness runs out during the lockdown? Photo / File

What happens if your WOF expires during the lockdown?

Author
Melissa Nightingale, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 25 Mar 2020, 3:18PM

Insurance companies will still cover you for a crash if your warrant of fitness runs out during the lockdown period, as long as your vehicle doesn't have an existing safety issue.

But it's still not clear whether police will ticket people for driving without a WOF.

Insurance Council chief executive Tim Grafton reassured drivers they were still covered during these uncertain times.

"If your WOF is due while we are in alert level four don't worry – your car insurance will still be in place as long as there isn't an existing safety issue that would mean you might not get a WOF – such as tyres needing to be replaced," he said.

"Also, if you have an accident while using your car for an essential reason during this time, you'll also be covered as long as the cause of the accident isn't related to a reason why your car might fail a WOF.

"If you know your car has a defect that needs repair though it's important not to drive it until the repairs are completed."

The New Zealand Transport Agency has not yet clarified whether people would still be ticketed for having expired WOFs during the level 4 quarantine, and a police spokeswoman simply said police would continue their work as usual, but had "discretion" over whether to ticket someone.

Auckland woman Dory Connor said her WOF and registration were both due to run out in April during the lockdown, and in the fast-moving coronavirus environment she has been unable to get her WOF early before the shutdown.

"I'm in a privileged position so I can make arrangements around it," said Connor, adding she was concerned for other Kiwis who had no other options and would need to take unwarranted cars out to get food or medicine.

"My warrant runs out on the 10th of April, so technically I'm now uninsured because if anything happens with my car I don't have insurance cover."

 Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website

Connor said there was no information on the NZTA website for people in her situation, and she felt many people would be asking the same question.

"It's not surprising. Everywhere you look there's lack of communication. People weren't expecting this, it's an unusual situation," she said.

But for those who would be forced to drive their car illegally, the situation would become "super, super stressful".

Connor believed tickets should be waived for those driving unwarranted cars, unless they were driving an obviously unsafe vehicle.

"If you've got bald tyres you knew you had bald tyres before this happened."

But if someone's warrant ran out during the lockdown then insurance companies, NZTA and police all needed to "come to the party" and agree to allow cover and not ticket.

She also said NZTA should provide assurances there would be extra people providing WOFs after the lockdown ended to clear the backlog of people needing them.

"Be kind, like the Prime Minister's told us to be."

NZTA spokesman Andrew Knackstedt said they were working hard to provide certainty for people and would update the website as they clarified more information.

New information provided on the website says enforcement of WOFs was at the discretion of police and local authorities.

"If your vehicle is not used for essential services, you should only use it for essential travel during the stage 4 Covid-19 alert," the site said.

If your WOF expires during this period, you should wait to renew it until the Government has announced it is safe to move out from self-isolation.

"In the meantime, if you must travel for essentials [eg groceries, doctor visits], please consider other options.

"We are looking at alternative measures to address this issue. Please check our website regularly for updates."

For those operating or working for an essential service, the NZTA said it was currently working with service providers to offer WOF renewals for those vehicles.