Valid insurance more vital than road tax

PETALING JAYA - It is illegal to drive with an expired licence or road tax, but it is more important that the vehicle has valid insurance coverage.

If you are caught driving without a licence or road tax, you will be fined, but it won't go beyond that.

"However, you must have insurance because it means you and the other road users are protected (especially in the event of an accident involving severe damage or death)," said lawyer C.V. Devan.

This was confirmed by the General Insurance Association of Malaysia (PIAM).

"(An) expired road tax will not render a motor insurance contract invalid if the vehicle has an insurance policy," PIAM said in a statement.

This and other questions arose in the wake of the Road Transport Department (JPJ) computer system foul-up that has been making motorists, who wanted to renew their licences and road tax, wait hours, even days. Usually, it takes just 10 minutes.

Especially hard hit were the hordes of motorists who planned to balik kampung for Hari Raya. There were long queues at JPJ offices in the Klang Valley.

JPJ director-general Datuk Ismail Ahmad had said that motorists who could not renew their licences or road tax could appeal against their fines if they were caught.

"If it is a genuine case, we will consider on a case-by-case basis," he said on Tuesday.

Devan, who is based in Klang, said motorists inconvenienced by the JPJ delay were still protected even if they did not get their renewals.

"As long as they can prove that they have been driving all this while with a valid licence and that they couldn't renew it because of the JPJ problem, it should be okay," he said.

The computer system foul-up happened when the JPJ upgraded its system to a new one, according to the Transport Ministry.

Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Aziz Kaprawi said the contractor in charge of the upgrade had "interfacing" problems when the new system went live in late July.

"I think they had some problems interfacing the old system with the new. It's not JPJ's problem," he said.

Aziz said the new system was 95 per cent ready and was confident it would be more powerful and faster than the previous one.