Question: I live in Kingston and teach in Montego Bay. While returning home in May 2012, a left-hand drive SUV tried to go between my car and another in the left lane and collided with the front of my car. I had to chase it through three traffic lights before the driver stopped. He refused to provide information and instructed me to call the police. He drove away before they arrived. I made a report and received a receipt. The police called next week to advise that someone else had made a statement. I decided to pay for the repairs to protect my no-claims discount. My insurer says the other party has not reported the accident to their insurer and they asked me to get a police report. After paying for it, I contacted them and asked what was to be done with the receipt provided. I was instructed to drive back to Montego Bay Police Station and hopefully, at some point, the report will be sent to the insurance company. If this is the way that the law relating to insurance is being implemented, then there is no point in buying insurance. Is there any incentive to report accidents? What are the services that insurers should be providing in cases like mine?
HELPLINE: Your struggles with the insurance system remind me of an experience that my family and I had in the Kingston 6 area last Saturday. It was in a restaurant.
The service was very, very bad. Menu items were unavailable. Mistakes were made with the orders. The stem of the lettuce was served with one of the salads. The other was served without the Feta cheese on the menu. An error was made in the bill.
The waiter was clueless, although to be fair, he apologised for his many lapses.
One difference between our experience and yours is that my family and I do not have to buy the foods that that restaurant sells. Motor insurance is, however, compulsory.
There are hundreds of places that sell food. There are now only eight companies that sell motor insurance.
Your claims service provider is like the waiter — clueless. The other party has not reported the accident to their insurer excuse is nonsense. Here is what I suggest. Enter 'Insurance HelpLine Gleaner' into the Google search engine. A page will appear which lists some the articles that I have written for this newspaper. Select the item listed 'Time to penalise lazy insurers - Business - Jamaica Gleaner' that was published on July 1, 2012. Read it and share the contents with your claims service provider.
This information along with the police report - see below - should be sufficient for your insurer to prove to the insurer of the third party that an accident took place.
Section 8 of the Motor Vehicles Insurance (Third-Party Risks) Act should convince the SUV's insurers that even if its driver has not reported the collision, they are still obliged to give consideration to settling your claim.
Check the telephone directory to see if your insurer has a branch office in Montego Bay. If they do, suggest that the Kingston office contact their office in St James to liaise with the police in order to collect the police report.
Alternatively, you could make arrangements to collect it at the police station on one of your regular visits there and charge part of the cost to the claim.
Professor H.G. Parsa of Ohio State University tracked the lifespan of new restaurants in the city of Columbus. The study, which covered a three-year period, indicated a failure rate of 59 per cent.
The local rate is probably much higher given our harsher environment.
In light of last week's experience that metric is very comforting. The odds of closure will increase unless the problems my family and I experienced are quickly resolved. We have voted with our feet.
Although motor insurance is required by law, you have options. Shop around when the renewal date of your policy comes around to see if you can save money and get better service than your existing insurer is offering.
Not to do so would be irresponsible given the poor claims service that you got.
Cedric E. Stephens provides independent information and free advice about the management of risks and firstname.lastname@example.orgSMS/text message to 812-7233