Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
ARGUING THAT the Government has a responsibility to protect itself from rapacious insurance companies, Senator Lambert Brown says the state should institute laws that would make it criminal for companies to charge members of the disabled community discriminatory prices to insure motor vehicles.
At the same time, Brown, a government senator, wants the creation of stringent laws to punish persons found in possession of fake driver's licences.
Brown made the comments yesterday during a sitting of a committee of the Senate, which is considering national policy issues.
Law must go further
On the issue of the charging of discriminatory prices to disabled persons, Brown noted the law states that it is an offence to drive a vehicle without insurance coverage and argued that the law must go further.
"The law, if it requires that of people, it must protect them from rapacious conduct by commercial entities. It must protect them from the discriminatory practice," Brown argues.
The government senator noted that the Insurance Association of Jamaica told the committee that insurers have no objection to providing insurance to members of the disabled community who have driver's licences. He also noted that the association said it did not discriminate against persons because they are disabled.
Under the law, deaf people as well as persons who have lost the use of both legs are eligible for driver's licences.
Opposition Senator Arthur Williams, however, said insurance companies "have a right to rate different people at a higher risk".
He said charging members of the disabled community a higher premium for insurance coverage might be guided by the perceived risks involved.
Similarly, Opposition Senator Alexander Williams argued that it would not be appropriate for such laws to be enacted against insurance companies.
"They have to measure their risk and I think it would be a dangerous and slippery slope to necessarily brand their assessment of risk as discriminatory conduct," Williams said.
He further argued that the Charter of Rights protects all persons from discrimination and that persons who feel wronged can apply to the courts for redress.