Careless accident investigations by police are adding to car crash victims’ pain, whose insurance claims are being delayed because of poor reports from some officers, a senior insurance executive said today.
General Manager of Cooperators General Insurance Anton Lovell revealed that over 8,000 annual road accidents account for most insurance claims in Barbados.
Stressing that insurance companies cannot grant claims until liability is established, Lovell pleaded with the police to take their investigations more seriously.
He said: “Some reports do not convince insurers that proper and detailed investigations were done.
“On too many occasions, conclusions are reached, but there is no basis for placing blame on a driver. There’s an accident scene, but no measurements are provided,
no references to businesses or video evidence.”
He added: “The first thing investigators should ask is if there is any video stationed around.
“We need to find out who is the negligent party and that is why good reporting is critically important and well-articulated reports based on all circumstances at the accident scene.”
Lovell was addressing two-dozen police constables from across the region as an accident investigation course wrapped up at the Regional Police Training Centre.
The insurance executive stressed numerous people remained on insurance waiting lists for years, pending the outcome of accident investigations, leading to physical and emotional suffering without compensation.
“It cannot be reasonable to wait as many as two, three or four years to prepare and submit reports to companies.
“That is ridiculous and it places undue hardship because persons involved in accidents sometimes require specialist treatment, which is extremely costly.
“Justice delayed is justice denied.”
But he also suggested that police officers should not be forced to respond to “car park” accidents, in which neither injuries nor fatalities are reported.
“After you have gone through this high-level training, why would you be called out to an accident scene when vehicles barely touch each other in a gas station.
“If I had the authority, I would order the police not to respond or attend these scenes,” he declared.
Lovell said that if drivers could not determine liability, then the insurance companies would.
“I am appealing to the Commissioner of Police not to waste his resources by allowing officers to tend to these trivial accidents without injury so that police can deal with the most serious accidents and supply reports in a timely manner.
“This will allow you to pursue other tasks including spot checks on the roads, looking for those unlicensed and uninsured vehicles.
“Imagine these drivers being involved in accidents and worse yet, being the negligent party.”
Commandant of the RPTC John Maxwell acknowledged the increasing number of vehicles on the road would likely result in even more road accidents.
Despite the challenges, the commandant expressed confidence the necessary competencies for improved reporting would be developed.
“The course covered the role of the first responder, determining the point of impact, management of accident scenes, measurements including coordinates and triangulation and reporting.”
Course participants also received practical training to apply to their theoretical grounding, the commandant said.
“Some of these applications were new, but I’m sure that with constant practice, you will ultimately develop the competency,” he said.
Police officers from Aruba, the British Virgin Islands, Antigua and Barbuda, St Lucia and the Turks and Caicos attended the two-week workshop, which opened on June 3.