A spokeswoman for the insurance companies here said public service vehicle (PSV) owners no longer have an excuse to complain about insurance premiums.
Administrator of the General Insurance Association of Barbados (GIAB) Gina Welch has revealed that rates are as low as they have ever been in recent years.
“For the last couple of years premiums have been falling, so now is the best time to get motor insurance,” Welch told Barbados TODAY at the junction of Country Road and Roebuck Street, The City, where the GAIB this morning launched its sponsorship of the pedestrian crossing.
The insurance executive explained that while the 2016-2017 statistics for the insurance industry were still being tabulated, initial indicators supported her perspective.
Her claim was also backed by several insurances brokers contacted by Barbados TODAY, all of whom concurred that the average insurance premiums for ZRs had been capping off at $10,000 since last year.
This represents a significant decrease from 2015 when it was estimated that PSVs annual insurance costs ranged from $5,000 to $18,000 for ZRs and $11, 000 to $26,000 for minibuses, due to the high risk associated with the sector.
However, Welch warned that the rates could rise again if the number of mass casualty injury claims continue at the current pace.
In the wake, several accidents this year involving minibuses and ZRs, which resulted in serious injury to passengers, Welch said that owners who still complain about premiums were not factoring in the cost of insuring their customers.
“Any complaints about insurance premiums are certainly not justified at this time but a lot of people only compare the cost of their premium to the value of their vehicle. They are not taking into consideration that their insurance covers the fact that they can cause a $30 million claim. The premium is based not just on the vehicle but also that third party injury element,” Welch said.
“The thing is that personal injury claims . . . unlike replacing or fixing the vehicle, you can’t just make a one-off payment. The process takes the same amount of time it takes the person to heal and the insurer is required to make incremental payments every step of the way. You can’t just look at the injured person and say they are going to be better in eight weeks so here is a payment,” she added.
Two years ago Massy United Insurance’s took the hardline decision not to renew the insurance of PSVs that were not driven by the owners due to the high number of claims.
Both the Alliance of Owners of Public Transport (AOPT) and the Association of Public Transport Operators (APTO) continuously voice concerns about the tough approach by the insurance companies to insuring PSVs, arguing that high premiums, coupled with the limited number of companies willing to insure the vehicles, made it difficult for them to make a decent living.
However, Welch said the premiums the owners pay were completely up to them, emphasizing that the owners needed to impress on PSV operators the need to be discreet and cautious on the road in order to reduce the number of accidents and, by extension, the number of claims.
“We cannot reduce premiums in an industry without looking at what the clients’ experience is. So at the moment the ball is in their court because as I said earlier, premiums have fallen significantly,” she stressed.