A simple lesson for Minister Ashni Singh and President Irfaan Ali
Kaieteur News – You drive down the road in your car, exercising as much care and care as you can. Then suddenly another car jumps the junction and slams into your vehicle, causing extensive damage.
You call the police and measurements and statements are taken. At the station, you are asking for the offender’s insurance details so you can file a claim because your vehicle is damaged.
When you turn to the other party’s insurance company, you are told that the individual only has basic insurance. Then you realize that the amount you receive compensation cannot even replace one of the rear lights on your vehicle. You are advised to file a civil case for compensation.
The last person you knew who did it ended up spending years in the courts. And by the time the judgment was ready he died. If the wrong person had adequate insurance, they would not have needed to spend so long seeking compensation.
Many accident victims have lost their legs and become incapacitated and have had to live out the rest of their lives without any proper compensation due to inadequate insurance.
But that’s how the system works. Tens of thousands of vehicles are driven around our country. And you can bet that most of these vehicles only have the basic insurance cover. If these vehicles are in an accident, the innocent party will have problems recovering its losses from the insurance companies.
Every so often you read about the tragedy of people losing their homes to fire. And when the owners are asked if they had insurance, most would say no. So they have to start life back from scratch. This is also the tragedy of life in Guyana.
The Senior Minister recently turned in the Office of the President, Dr. Ashni Singh, the turf for insurance company headquarters. In his comments, Dr. Singh some solid advice.
The Minister made a passionate appeal to citizens to consider taking out insurance as it is an essential part of managing business and household risks. He correctly pointed out that many Guyanese fail to recognize the importance of insurance and believe that they can do without it. But he said it was necessary in the event of a disaster. Dr. Singh on the insurance companies to educate the public about insurance benefits.
However, Dr. should not. Singh left this matter at the discretion of citizens only. The law makes it compulsory for motor vehicle drivers to have an insurance policy that covers third parties. The law requires mandatory third party insurance because it recognizes that in terms of protecting others on our roads, this cannot be left at the discretion of drivers. It must be upheld by law.
The problem is that insurance laws are outdated and the minimum coverage they are required to do cannot compensate for the injuries, property loss and property damage caused during accidents. Limited coverage under these mandatory policies needs to be increased to ensure adequate protection for third parties. It’s not just about trying to educate people about the benefits of insurance; if people are to be protected then adequate insurance must become compulsory.
The same applies with COVID. It is not enough for the President to continue to emphasize to citizens the need for them to wear masks in public and to practice social isolation. As we have seen, such appeals do not have the desired effect. They need to be supported by legal measures which in turn are supported by law and rigorously enforced.
A recent report highlighted that the countries that had done well in combating the virus were the more disciplined countries. The report referred to those countries that had stronger institutions, exercised cultural constraints and had strong institutions to enforce the social restrictions necessary.
Guyana’s health system is not suitable for preventive care. Guyana should have long moved towards a more community-based model of healthcare. But that is not going to happen because the political elite is tied to interested parties in the private healthcare system for which the current system is right.
As a rule, asking people to go out if needed, wearing masks and practicing social isolation have not had the desired results. And this is because it was supported by poor enforcement.
Last week the COVID-19 Task Force began raids on curfew-infringing entertainment venues. Several people were arrested. Unless, however, enforcement is devolved to the Regions and communities; unless the people of the communities are convened and organized to enforce the regulations; and unless these regulations are supported by the stronger regulations and laws, then many will not come.
Asking people to take action is not enough. The law must support this appeal and the law must not aim for the lowest common denominator, as is currently the case with vehicle insurance.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of this newspaper.)