Thu | Oct 18, 2018

Insurance premiums skyrocket for accident-prone class of young drivers

Published:Tuesday | March 3, 2015 | 12:25 AMLivern Barrett
Concerned citizens rush to the assistance of the driver of a Suzuki Vitara after a two-vehicle crash slowed traffic to a near standstill yesterday at the intersection of Paddington Terrace and Liguanea Avenue in St Andrew. Another woman, the driver of the white Nissan Sunny also involved in the incident, surveyed the damage from a distance. She appeared to be uninjured.

The carnage on the nation's roadways is causing drivers under 30 years old to dig deeper into their pockets to pay, on average, as much as 80 per cent more for motor vehicle insurance than their counterparts over that age.

That 80 per cent jump in premiums, according to Peter Levy, executive member of the Insurance Association of Jamaica, applies to male drivers under age 30.

Female drivers under 30, Levy said, are paying, on average, up to 60 per cent more than drivers over that age.

"So the men (under 30) are paying more than two times the premium of an over 30 person and a little bit less for women... It's a significant increase," he disclosed.

"So if the premium is $50,000 for the over 30 person it's gonna be like $90,000 for the under 30 male and close to $80,000 for the under 30 female," he said in giving an example.

However, he made it clear that different companies have their own pricing regime.

Levy, who is also managing director of British Caribbean Insurance Company (BCIC), explained that the charges for drivers under 30 are guided by an analysis done by the insurance companies.

He said the analysis was done in 2013 and examined 10,000 traffic accidents, which occurred over the previous five years.

According to him, it showed that male and female drivers under 30 were two times more likely to have an accident than their counterparts over that age.

"And something else we found is that the severity of those accidents, in other words the degree of damage, was also around double. So they are twice as likely to have accidents and when they do have them they are twice as severe," he explained.

"Males were worse than females, but both were worse than the over 30s," he continued.

Levy acknowledged that not every driver under the age of 30 poses the same risk of having an accident, but explained that it's the law of averages.

"People get very upset because you are putting them into a group that they don't belong in, but I'm just talking about what the statistics say right now," he underscored.

The findings of the analysis comes as two motor vehicle crashes on the weekend pushed the number of persons killed on the nation's roadways this year to 54. This represents an increase of eight per cent when compared with the 48 road deaths recorded for the corresponding period last year.

In one of the crashes, four persons employed to Bahia Principe hotel in St Ann were killed when the motorcar in which they were travelling collided with a tractor-trailer along the Braco main road in Trelawny.

Two women, ages 20 and 29 years old, were killed in the other crash, which occurred in Four Paths, Clarendon, on Sunday.

Vice chairman for the National Road Safety Council Dr Lucien Jones said both incidents should "galvanise the entire nation to take the issue of road safety much more seriously at all levels of our society."

Levy acknowledged that increasing insurance premiums was a business decision, but said it also sends a strong message.

"You need to look at your behaviour because if everybody pays the same premium, regardless of any of these factors, then there would not be as much incentive to curb your behaviour," he reasoned.