x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Link UAE car insurance premiums to a driver’s safety record, expert says

A road safety expert says reforms in the insurance sector, including a draft law that would standardise motor policies, should link premiums to a driver's safety record.

If drivers get speeding tickets, their insurance premium should increase in the UAE says one expert. Jaime Puebla / The National
If drivers get speeding tickets, their insurance premium should increase in the UAE says one expert. Jaime Puebla / The National

ABU DHABI // Reforms to car-insurance policies should link premiums to a driver’s safety record, an expert says.

The UAE Insurance Authority has prepared a draft law to standardise motor policies. The draft regulations are in the final stages and have been referred to the federal Cabinet.

“From a safety point of view, I hope the new updated insurance laws will track drivers’ safety records and they will increase the insurance premium based on that,” said Dr Abdulilah Zineddin, a road-safety specialist in Abu Dhabi.

“So if drivers get speeding tickets, their insurance premium should increase, and if they perform well it should be reduced.

“Insurance companies should also have some responsibility to improve road safety.”

The aim of the insurance policy reforms is to better regulate car accident coverage among insurers, the traffic department and the Ministry of Justice, said the authority’s director general, Ibrahim Al Zaabi.

Road safety and transport experts have welcomed the proposed reforms, which they say could further improve safety on the roads.

“Any kind of insurance policy standardisation is good,” said Glenn Havinoviski, a transport expert in Abu Dhabi.

“The advantage of larger insurance companies is that they are more likely to have the resources and expertise to represent their clients in cases that pit one party against the other.”

At present, policies are approved by ministerial decree. But when conflicts arise between the customer and the insurance company, the courts do not always follow the terms of the policy, as the matter is considered to fall under the rules of contract law.

“Standardised motor policies will minimise confusion among motorists in terms of insurance policies and options of what is covered and what is not and will help them make more informed decisions,” said Dr Salaheddin Bendak, a road-safety specialist and associate professor of industrial engineering at the University of Sharjah.

“It may indirectly help in improving road safety as drivers will be better informed of policies and their rights and obligations.”

Clearly defining responsibility for accidents should also be a key priority for the police, said Mr Havinoviski, who also specialises in incident management and intelligent transport systems.

“Standardisation is needed there as well,” he said. “Ideally, police across the UAE should follow the same sound investigative procedures with no differences across the emirates.”

Saaed, a private company associated with Abu Dhabi police, responds to and manages minor accidents in which there are no injuries, freeing traffic police to concentrate on more serious incidents.

Drivers cannot file an accident-damage claim to their insurers without a Saeed report on the incident.

Ibrahim Ramel, its chief executive, told a road-safety forum in May that the rate of serious traffic accidents per 100,000 had fallen from 127.2 in 2007 to 77 in 2011.

The rate of deaths and severe injuries per 100,000 people decreased from 46 in 2007 to 23.1 in 2011.

Saeed started working in the Mussaffah area of Abu Dhabi in 2008 before branching out to the rest of the emirate and then to Ras Al Khaimah and Umm Al Quwain. It expanded to Sharjah and Ajman this year.

rruiz@thenational.ae