Tips on shopping online for motor insurance
Insurance Helpline - With cedric Stephens
Question: I am at present living in England. I hope to return to Jamaica within the next two years. I am planning to purchase a car in Jamaica in August 2010 and leave it there when I return to the United Kingdom. I was told that car insurance in Jamaica is very expensive.
I am 47 years old and have held a full UK driver's licence since 1988. I do not have any motor insurance in Jamaica at the present time. Will the coverage be as expensive as I was told? Can you recommend an insurance company that fits my criteria? Do you have any other advice for me?
Answer: I am not in the business of recommending insurance companies. It would be unfair to readers - and this newspaper - who expect me to stick to my promise to "provide independent information and advice". Even though I have tried very hard since 1997 to honour that undertaking, there are still persons who believe that I am in the pocket of insurance companies. Given those views and my personal moral code, I will not answer your second question.
Enter the phrase 'Jamaican motor insurers' in your favourite search engine. You will find a list of insurance companies and brokers here that you can contact. Select those insurers or brokers who offer online quotations. You will need to submit the following information to get quotations:
The make, model, year of manufacture and estimate of value of the vehicle;
The type of coverage: comprehensive or third party, fire and theft or third party;
Details about the proposed drivers, that is, age, occupation/business/driving experience;
Purposes for which the vehicle will be used, for example, social domestic and pleasure or business;
Entitlement to no-claims discount; and
Limits of liability required for personal injury/property damage and one person/any one event.
I entered this information in one insurer's websites that I selected at random and received a quotation in a few seconds.
Try three of four companies. When the exercise has been completed, you should have a fairly good idea about the price of motor insurance in Jamaica and which company offers the best deal. I do not know how the prices here compare with those in the UK. Sources tell me that motor insurers there, like their counterparts in Jamaica, are losing money on this class of business.
SELECT DRIVERS CAREFULLY
Insurers say that their online motor-insurance quotations are not firm.
The applicant will have to complete and sign a proposal form before they can give a fixed price. The price of your coverage will be influenced to a large extent by the person who you select to drive the vehicle while you are living in England between 2010 and 2012.
If you choose someone who is mature, a safe driver with a good history and who operates the vehicle as though it were his/her own, you are unlikely to run into problems.
On the other hand, if the person who has been assigned responsibility for your car is under 25 years old, has a history of accidents and uses the vehicle as a 'robot' taxi - or other purposes for which it was not insured - while you are thousands of miles away, the odds are that you are going to have problems.
Make sure that the persons who will drive are approved by your insurer.
Do you have a motor-insurance history in the UK? If you do, and are entitled to a no-claims discount there, many insurers here will grant you the same level of discount if you can provide them with evidence in the form of a letter.
I suspect that local insurers will allow the discount when you become the main driver - sometime during 2012.
Price is only one of many things that consumers should take into account when buying motor insurance. Others include after-sales service, financial strength and reputation for paying claims. In other words, all insurance companies are not created equal.
Talk with members of your family and friends and follow their advice.
There are some similarities between buying motor insurance in the UK and Jamaica.
Go to the following website to get more tips: www.direct.gov.uk/en/Motoring/OwningAVehicle/Motorinsurance.
Cedric E. Stephens provides independent information and advice about the management of risks and insurance. For free information or counsel, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or send a text (SMS) message to 812-7233.