Thu | Jun 17, 2021

Uninsured motorists a big, expensive headache

Published:Sunday | March 18, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Insurance Helpline With Cedric Stephens

Question: My car was involved in an accident with another vehicle in December 2010. The third party's insurers stated that "their standard approach in settling claims involving uninsured motorists does not usually include payment of loss of use ... ". That practice, in my opinion, is wrong. What are your views?

- G.K.B., Kingston 6.

HELPLINE: Uninsured motorists create big problems for the general public when they cause accidents. The economic costs of these mishaps are borne by victims and society. Those costs include lost income, medical care and property damage.

They also help to raise insurance premiums for persons who obey the law.

Uninsured drivers often get away scot-free. This is the broad context within which the actions of the third party's insurer should be viewed. Is this action legal? Frankly, I am unqualified to answer this question.

Successive governments have done very little about the problem of uninsured motorists - except trying to repair the dysfunctional traffic ticketing system.

Contrast this with the action of the UK government. It has recently moved very aggressively against the 1.4 million uninsured motorists there. They represent four per cent of all drivers.

Closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras will be fitted at gas stations. It will automatically prevent uninsured drivers from filling up their gas tanks, that is until their vehicle information has been logged by the system. That plan, according to The Mirror, is meant to cut down on the number of uninsured vehicles on public roads.

uninsured vehicle estimates

There is no official data on the number of uninsured vehicles that operate on our local roads. Some insurance company sources estimate that as many as one in four vehicles are uninsured. This compares with an average of one in seven drivers in the US, according to 2009 data estimated by the Insurance Research Council, says 'USA Today'. Alabama headed the list with 22 per cent.

In the absence of other data, the local estimate of 25 per cent seems reasonable.

MoneySupermarket.com car insurance expert Peter Harrison estimates that in the UK insurance costs there are driven up £500 million every year because of uninsured drivers.

This adds an average £30 to every driver's insurance premium. It would be most interesting to find out the level of subsidy that local motorists who buy insurance are providing to those who flout the law.

Persons who choose not to buy compulsory motor insurance should not be allowed to benefit from the system when they are victims of accidents.

If they are to receive compensation for personal injury or property damage, deductions should be made to cover the fine for breaking the law plus an amount to represent the premiums that they would have paid had they been part of the system.

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to get on my soapbox for the third straight week to share my views on what is really a public-policy issue.

It is my sincere hope that our policymakers do not overlook the requirements of The Motor Vehicles (Third-Party) Risks Act while readying their vehicle - JEEP - for road use!

Cedric E. Stephens provides independent information and free advice about the management of risks and insurance.aegis@cwjamaica.comSMS/text message to 812-7233