|23 September, 2019

Call to streamline insurance policies in Bahrain

The proposal follows numerous complaints from people claiming insurance companies have charged them for a percentage of the repair job

Image used for illustrative purpose. High Angle View Of Agent Explaining Insurance Policy To Client.

Image used for illustrative purpose. High Angle View Of Agent Explaining Insurance Policy To Client.

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Bahrain - A group of MPs are trying to amend policies of private insurance firms through legislation to prevent them from charging motorists not at fault in car accidents.

The proposal follows numerous complaints from people claiming insurance companies have charged them for a percentage of the repair job, despite having comprehensive insurance and the police determining they were not at fault.

Five MPs want to change this policy and to bring insurance firms in line in a bid to stamp out practices that involve duping customers with the fine print of contracts.

The proposal was submitted yesterday to Parliament chairwoman Fouzia Zainal, who referred it to the services committee for review.

The MPs behind the bill are parliament second vice-chairman Ali Al Zayed, Abdulrazzak Al Hattab, Ahmed Al Ansari, Dr Abdulla Al Thawadi and Isa Al Dossary.

“Charging people who are not at fault to repair or replace damage to the car is something new this country is witnessing,” said Dr Al Thawadi, who is also parliament’s human rights committee chairman.

“People abiding by traffic rules and minding their own business are now subject to unfair insurance policies that disregard their rights of getting proper compensation.

“The conditions set by insurance companies could be unconstitutional and were possibly included in contracts that people sign without the approval of the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB).

“Policies should follow certain templates that are acknowledged by the CBB and people should be enlightened about their rights before signing.”

However, MP Ahmed Al Salloom, who is Bahrain Bloc president, said the firms were within their legal right to provide different policies based on their business model – adding that consumers should be more aware of their rights and the market.

“The terms are clearly stated for compensation whether someone is at fault or not and insurance companies calculate things to maximise their profits and reduce spending on replacements and repairs,” he said.

“If people are not happy with the conditions set on the contract they should reject it and go to another company which they feel will serve them justice or treat them better.”

One Bahraini man, who lodged a complaint with MPs, told the GDN on condition of anonymity that he had to pay 25pc of the cost of damage to his car when another motorist crashed into him.

“My insurance company calculated the cost, with the other driver’s company, at BD2,000 and they asked me to pay 25pc of the cost, which was BD500, because my car is 2016 model,” said the 30-year-old.

“I have full insurance and am paying around BD140 a year, so why should I have to pay that amount, it’s not fair.”

The GDN approached the CBB and a number of private insurance firms for comment, but there was no response.

Last month, the same group of MPs submitted queries on private insurance policies in the country to CBB Governor Rasheed Al Miraj, who in response issued a decision to amend bylaws under the 2016 Unified Compulsory Insurance Policy Law.

The decision states that firms cannot charge customers for new spare parts if used ones could not be found.

“In case there are no spare parts, new or used, then payments have to be made as final settlements at the cost of the new spare part and repair,” stated the decision published in the Official Gazette.

In March the total number of licensed vehicles registered in Bahrain reached 724,082, up from 695,707 a year earlier.

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