Question: My bus was hit by a car last December. The driver and I exchanged details at the scene and reported the accident to the police. When I filed a report with the insurers of the third party I received a shock. The company said that the car had been reported stolen a few months before. A claim was filed which they had paid. Their records showed that the car was not insured with them when the accident took place. The cost of repairing the bus is J$3 million. What should I do to get compensation?
- R.S., Kingston 5
HELPLINE: Uninsured motorists create huge problems for other road users and the society at large. This was the theme of an article that I wrote on March 18.
A source tells me that there are about 600,000 vehicles on our roads. If one out of every four of these vehicles beats the compulsory motor insurance system, the population of uninsured vehicles would number 150,000.
Each one has the potential to cause mayhem, which appears to have happened in your case. This explains why the subject of uninsured vehicles should be a matter for the policymakers.
Bogus theft claim
What are the chances that the third party or his insurers will provide you with the funds to repair your bus? Very slim. The car owner appears to be a crook. Reading carefully between the lines of your text message and after having spoken with you, I believe that he has used his vehicle to 'extract' cash from his insurers.
After the vehicle that was reported stolen was 'recovered' he did not surrender ownership to his insurers, as normally happens with genuine claims. Having made money from what appears to be a bogus theft claim, he has decided to save money on car insurance by electing to break the law.
Test my theory by visiting the Collector of Taxes. Find out the name of the owner of the vehicle and the identity of its insurers. After you have obtained that information revisit the insurance company. Share your information with them. Ask them to conduct a thorough investigation with the goal of finding out if there were any irregularities with the theft claim that they paid. Seek their help in obtaining recovery. This is the least-cost option which may or may not work.
Seek legal advice
Alternative number two involves the payment of money. Seek the assistance and advice of an attorney. Brief him or her thoroughly. Ask the lawyer to provide you with choices and the pros and the cons of each. Bear in mind that there is a huge backlog of cases in the court system which is likely to result in long waiting periods.
If it turns out that the third party is definitely a crook and it was found out the vehicle was not insured at the time of the accident, you could be faced with a very painful decision: either 'hug up' the cost of repairing the bus out of your personal funds, or selling it in its present state.
I am very sorry to appear so pessimistic but unfortunately, situations like yours will occur when one in every four vehicles on our roads do not comply with the law.
Cedric E. Stephens provides independent information and free advice about the management of risks and email@example.comSMS/text message to 812-7233