The law requires you to have motor vehicle insurance before you are permitted to drive a vehicle on the road. The relevant legislation in Antigua & Barbuda is The Motor Vehicles Insurance (Third Party Risks) Ordinance, requires all motorists to be insured against their liability for injuries suffered by third parties resulting from the use of their vehicle on a public road. It is an offense to drive your vehicle or allow others to drive it without insurance coverage. The minimum level of motor insurance which you are required to have is the Third Party. However, you are free to choose whether you want to buy more cover than the minimum or purchase additional benefits such as windscreen damage cover.
The cost and availability of motor insurance cover will be greatly influenced by:
- The age and condition and type of vehicle
If you require cover beyond Third Party Only, the state and age of your vehicle are important as they will affect the availability of spare parts and the level of repair costs. A powerful, expensive vehicle will cost more in terms of spare parts and repairs.
- The age of the driver/s
This is not just your age but that of any person you allow to drive your car. Statistics and experience have shown that mature drivers have fewer accidents than younger drivers below the age of 25.
- Your past accident record
A clean driving record will obviously result in a lower premium than that for a person with a record of accidents or serious traffic violations.
- The nature of use of the car
Social, domestic, and pleasure purposes, business purposes, commercial purposes, car hire etc.
- New Vehicles
The value for new vehicles is based on the Invoice value inclusive of customs duty.
- Imported Reconditioned Vehicles
The invoice cost of the vehicle in addition to the freight, insurance and custom duties. (It is advisable for all imported vehicles being imported to have insurance at the port of embankment.)
This is the amount of each claim that you pay yourself. This is covered under your deductible that is set for your policy. You may also choose to retain a higher excess or deductible in return for a discount.
Policyholders with a claim free record normally qualify for a premium discount. Scales do vary but usually range from 20% for one claims free year up to 60% or more after four or five years. This discount is not lost if you change your vehicle or your insurer. If you choose to change your insurance, the new insurer, the new insurer will need to obtain written confirmation from your previous insurer regarding the No Claims Discount (NCD) you are entitled to. There are various discount schemes offered such as Protected No Claims Discount or Careful Drivers Discount. Ask insurers or insurance intermediary for details of these discounts.
If you have the minimum cover of Tired Party Only and you have a claim you will lose your No Claims Discount (NCD). However, if you have a higher level of cover such as Third Party Fire & Theft or Comprehensive, then you will lose part of your NCD if you make one claim. This is because most insurers today offer a “step back” scale. Normally your NCD will step back by two years instead of going back to start.
Yes you will normally lose it when you make the claim. However, if the insurers of the third party admit the blame to compensate you, your NCD will be restored when your insurer recovers the amounts he has paid you from the third party insurers.
Most insurances companies may offer additional discounts if:
- You limit the authorized drivers;
- You choose to increase the excess/deductible;
- You insure more than one vehicle;
- You also have a household or other type of insurance with the same insurer.
- If you are a female driver
- If you are switch coverage from one insurance company to another.
- If you are a mature male driver.
Knowing what to do if you are involved in an accident can save lives and also make the claims process easier.
- Stop your car and find out if anyone is injured. If there are casualties call an ambulance immediately. Tell them how many people are injured and the types of injuries sustained.
- If you are involved in a other than a front-to-rear collisions, or where people are injured or when government property is involved, call the police.
- Try to protect the accident scene. Take responsible steps to protect your car from further damage such as putting on hazard lights and calling a tow truck.
- Remain calm, be prudent and do not blame the other party or admit liability in any circumstances. That will be decided at a later stage.
- Call the police as you need their report and sketch. Take photos of the accident site and damage to both vehicles and/or property.
- If you run into an unattended vehicle or object, try to find the owner. If you cannot, leave a note with your name, address and phone number. Record the details of the accident.
Follow these steps:
- Call your insurance representative as soon as possible after the accident, regardless of who is at fault and the size of the loss. If the accident happens during the weekend, contact your insurer first things on Monday Morning. You may eventually decide not to make a claim under your insurance policy, but still notify them immediately.
- You are required to complete a claim form. Fill in the details as accurately as possible and ask your insurer or insurance intermediary for any assistance you may need to complete the form. Sign it and keep a copy. Give copies of any photos you collected at the accident scene that was not requested on the claim form. Ask your insurer or insurance intermediary how to proceed and what other forms or documents that will be needed to be support your claim. Keep a copy of everything you give to your insurer or insurer intermediary.
- Ask your insurer or insurance intermediary
- Does my policy contain a time limit for filing claims and submitting bills?
- Is there a time limit for resolving claim disputes?
- If I need to submit additional information, is there a time limit?
- When can I expect the insurance company to contract me?
- Do I need to get repair estimates for the damage to my car?
- Will my policy pay for a rental car while my car is being repaired? If so, how much?
Remember that each company may have it own procedures governing the claims process. If you have any questions, call your insurer or insurance intermediary.
The insurances or insurance intermediaries will chase the report and collect it themselves.
This cover is called “Loss of Use” in most motor insurance policies. You may purchase this cover as an extension to a comprehensive policy. So, if you purchased such a cover, find this section/extension and read it. This cover will pay for a hired car for the period of time that your car is actually being repaired. This period of time does not, therefore, include the time when you are waiting for repairs to start, possibly due to the unavailability of spare parts or to your panel beater having other jobs to do. Certain delays are caused by reasons that are beyond the insurer’s responsibilities. Similarly, if you garage is too busy to start your repairs and another garage of an equivalent standard is available, you cannot insist on the use of your garage and the availability of a hired car until such time as repairs start.
There will normally be a limit on the car hire fee per day; so make sure you know what this is before you hire a car. You will have to pay any extra amount yourself. There is also a maximum limit of compensation; this is the total amount of money your insurer will pay for the total period of car hire. This cover is available to you whether you are to blame or not for the accident.
If you have not purchased such cover and are involved in an accident for which you are not to blame then it is the insurers of the third party who will pay you the cost of the hiring car. Again there are limits on the daily hire fee and the total amounts payable. You should approach the third party insurer and enquirer for full details before you rent a car. You should receive settlement from the third party insurer directly. If you face difficulties with the third party insurer ask you own insurer for guidance.
If you are to blame for the accident and had not purchased Loss of Use cover, you are not entitled to a replacement vehicle.
If you have purchased a comprehensive motor policy, you may claim under your won policy and avoid the hassle of chasing third parties. This means you will have to the excess and lose your No Claims Discount. Your insurer will then proceed to recover the amounts paid to you from the insurers of the guilty party. Once they achieve this, your insurers will refund you in full. Therefore your No Claims Discount will be restored and your excess recovered.
If you have Third Party Only or Third Party Fire & Theft cover and are involved in an accident which is the fault of the third party, your insurer can only offer you advice on how you may proceed.
It is important to keep in mind that the purpose of the motor insurance policy is one of indemnity that is the insurer must pay you back in the financial situation you enjoyed prior to the loss – no better, no worse. The insurer does not simply check the sum insured and pays you an amount subject to the limit of the sum insured. Your loss must be evaluated and made good. Therefore it is important that the age of your vehicle and its condition are carefully assessed. As previously mentioned, the value of the vehicle is the market value.
When it comes to replacing parts insurers will normally use original equipment manufacturer (OEM) part if the vehicle is less than 5 years old and well maintained. For older vehicles, using new OEM parts would result in an enhancement in the condition of your vehicle and result in putting you in a better situation than that which existed before the loss. Therefore imitation parts, non-OEM pars or recycled second-hand parts are normally used. These may vary in quality and standard and you should clearly discuss their origin and brand with the surveyor and insurer before starting repairs.
- Let your insurer or insurance intermediary know that you’re unhappy.
If the person handling your claim is unable to solve your problem, get the name and phone number of the head of the insurer’s claim department. Inform him that you have a compliant and ask for the procedure you need to follow to lodge your compliment.
- Be prepared to support your case.
Send documents, if any and a letter explaining why you are not satisfied and make sure you have the facts and figures to back up your argument. Be certain to include your address, claim number, day and evening phone numbers, and any other important identifying information.
- Consult a lawyer
This should be your last resort. However, if you do feel the need for legal assistance, consult a lawyer who specializes in motor insurance. You can follow the progress of your claim by asking your lawyer to provide you with copies of all correspondences. Your lawyer music has your agreement before committing to any settlement. After your claim has been settled, take time to re-evaluate your motor insurance coverage make sure you have adequate protection to cover you against any future damage or liability claims arising from the use of your car.
To give you some more help, here are some basic questions you should ask your insurance or insurance intermediary before you buy your motor insurance. Please note, the questions provided are very general; so we advise that you also ask your insurance reprehensive questions that are specific to your policy.
If I am involved in an accident tomorrow, what kind of cover can I expect from my motor insurance policy?
- What cover is available?
- I drive an old car. Do I need comprehensive cover?
- Who is covered in my motor policy?
- What is my excess? Do you recommend my increasing it?
- Would I be able to hire a car while my car is being repaired following an accident?
- I have changed my insurer. Does this mean I will lose my No Claims Discount?
- What service should I expect if I am insured on a Third Party Only or Third Party Fire and Theft basis?
- I use my car only for a Sunday drive. Does this affect my motor insurance?
- I am buying a new car. Will the type of car I choose affect my insurance rates?
- Does it make a difference as to what insurance I should get if I buy a new car or second hand one?
- What insurance companies did you contact on my behalf?
- What can I do lower my premium?
When you purchase motor insurance you may choose to restrict driving to yourself and certain specified people such as your husband/wife or people beyond a certain age. In return you will get a discount. These are normally called authorized drivers. If you choose to allow other drivers under the age of 25 years to drive your car, your premium will increase substantially. When buying insurance makes sure you restrict the cover to the people you need to allow driving your car. Remember their accident record and ages will influence your premium. Do not allow anyone outside this category to drive your car.
- Drunk Driving
Drunken Driving convictions are taken very seriously by insurers. Most policies would have a restriction in respect of driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs or any other illegal substance. As a result, damaged to one’s vehicle may not be recoverable and an insurer may recover from the insured claims for damages paid to third parties in such circumstances. Besides this, convicted drivers returning to the roads may face difficulties in obtaining insurance and may have to pay premium increases. The level of cover may be reduced – for example comprehensive down to third party fire and theft. These higher premium and cover restrictions may well last for a number of years.