The past nine days have been hectic for local insurance companies, with some reporting that they have been stretched to the limit, having received as many as 100 accident claims between December 27, 2017 to January 5, 2018.
And while the majority of these accidents could be considered minor “fender benders”, President of the General Insurance Association of Barbados (GIAB) Michael Holder is warning motorists that it could push local insurance premiums, which were set to increase by between ten and 30 per cent as at January 1, even higher.
Holder could not give any specifics, but confirmed to Barbados TODAY that there had been a definite increase in road accidents in the post-Christmas period, when compared to previous months.
“What we have heard from companies is that there has been an increase in the number of motor vehicle claims reported,” he said.
“Traditionally, it is a period where you see increased claims, between Christmas and New Year’s Day [but] the increased accidents will result in the increased claims costs,” he warned, adding that “this is why the GIAB has supported the move by Government for breathalyzer [testing to be introduced] because . . . we suspect that in some of those claims it could be a case of the driver being intoxicated.”
Provision has been made in the Road Traffic Amendment Act, which was approved by Parliament last November, for random breathalyzer testing.
However, those provisions are yet to fully implemented even as the Barbados Fire Service reported close to the end of December last year that it had responded to 93 motor vehicle accidents, compared to 76 in 2016.
2017 was also one of the deadliest years on record on the island’s roads with 28 fatalities from 25 road accidents, up from ten road fatalities the previous year.
Holder could not say if potholes were responsible for any of the road deaths or the increased motor vehicle claims, but he said the GIAB was concerned that “in avoiding them [the potholes] accidents can be caused.
“So that is where our concerns lie. So any attempt to have it rectified as soon as possible we see as beneficial not only to the road users, but the member companies of the GAIB,” he said.
In terms of motorists driving without insurance, Holder could not say how widespread that problem was, but pointed out that “we do know that there is a section of the motoring public that is uninsured and that is of concern”.
“When a person is not insured and involved in an accident and they are responsible and there is no insurance, the person who is injured or has property damaged then has a challenge to being compensated for his loss,” he said, adding that there was really no excuse for Barbadians not to insure their vehicles or property given the range of payment plans offered by insurance companies.
“What we see is that at times there are house fires and you have reports that the building is not insured, which is unfortunate,” Holder said, adding that “even though premiums may be increasing slightly each year,. . . payment terms can be negotiated and that is available to all policyholders.
“On the motor side we do see the cases where people have neither insurance nor road tax. This is unfortunate. At least have third party insurance and in this case again you can have installment plans,” he stressed.