Motorists who continue to use mobile phones while driving are now also risking their vehicle’s insurance coverage should they get into an accident.
The Insurance Corporation of Barbados Limited is now set to deny comprehensive coverage to the guilty motorists once it is established that they were using a phone that was not in “hands-free” mode at the time. Deputy Chief Executive Officer of ICBL Goulbourne Alleyne confirmed this position has been communicated to its policyholders and said other motor insurance companies are hot on the trail.
Noting that third-party coverage in these circumstances would not be affected, Alleyne explained that the insurance fraternity was merely getting behind the year-old legislation which saw changes to the Road Traffic Act, that makes it a violation to drive a vehicle while “holding, talking on, manipulating or a using a cell phone”. Those guilty of this crime face a $2,000 fine, 18 months in prison or both.
The legal changes have received the blessings of the Barbados Road Safety Association and some motorists.
Now, ICBL and at least one other unnamed insurance company has taken the decision not to cover damages for the insured party once he or she is discovered to have contravened the traffic law in relation to cell phone use.
Alleyne explained that the new measure was simply in keeping with the law.
“It is for the safety of the general public that we align ourselves with the legislation,” he said.
ICBL wrote to its policyholders informing them that effective June 29, 2019, “Section 1 of this policy does not cover any loss or damage to the insured’s vehicle whilst driven by any person who is: holding, manipulating, talking on or using a cellular telephone that is capable of receiving or transmitting telephone communication, electronic data, electronic mail or text messages, which is not in hands-free mode in accordance with the regulations made under the provisions of the Road Traffic Act, Cap 294 of the laws of Barbados.”
The notice also stated that all other terms, conditions, exceptions, exclusions and/ or provisions of their policy remain unchanged.
Alleyne, who is also President of the General Insurance Association of Barbados (GIAB) told Barbados TODAY “What the person would have received from us is an endorsement that if they are involved in an accident and it is proven that they were using a cell phone at the time of an accident, which would be the main cause or reason why the accident would have occurred, we reserve the right not to pay the own-damage portion of the claim,” he explained.
“Own-damage means that portion of the claim relating to that person’s vehicle. We are still obligated, by law, to pay the third-party damage. So it is not that we are not insuring the person. It aligns itself with legislation,” he explained.
Pointing out that other insurance companies were in the process of introducing a similar clause, the GIAB president said “I have spoken to several others and they are moving in the same direction, but as you know ICBL has a significant share of the market in terms of the motoring public and we decided to lead the way. But we are not the only company that has it on… and as I mentioned, other companies will follow suit with a similar endorsement of their policy,” said Alleyne.