To help improve safety on Qatar’s roads, the government has asked insurance companies to start charging risky drivers higher premiums.
According to Gulf Times, the Qatar Central Bank (QCB) issued a circular on Thursday outlining the new policy, stating “the higher the risk of the motorist, the higher the premium.”
The move comes months after one of the country’s largest insurance firms, Qatar Insurance Co. (QIC), began lowering rates for good drivers.
Under that policy, motorists get discounts if they have no accidents or can prove they are driving safely via a mobile phone app that tracks behaviors such as rapid acceleration, harsh braking and speeding.
Carrot versus stick
QIC executive vice-president Frederik Bisbjerg told Doha News today that the approach was like offering people a carrot.
However, he also lauded the government’s new idea – “they’re going out with a stick.”
I’m happy that they’re doing it.”
According to the QCB circular, factors such as the type of vehicle being driven, distance covered during the year, and number of traffic violations and accidents should all be figured into the new premium rates.
Currently, insurance companies don’t have access to all this information, Bisbjerg said. He added that QIC looks forward to implementing new rates “the second we get the tools.”
In Qatar, the vehicle is usually what’s insured, rather than the driver.
But Bisbjerg said that most of the time, the person taking out the insurance is usually the same one using the car, so knowing more about that person’s track record can make a difference.
The memo also asked insurance companies to provide QCB with statistics on “black spots,” or places where accidents frequently occur, around the country.
The cause of these accidents should also be included in the semi-annual reports.
Residents have long lamented bad driving in Qatar, and have called for increased police enforcement of the law.
So far however, authorities have been more keen to roll out more traffic cameras to catch speeders, those who run red lights and people who overtake other vehicles.
Earlier this year, motorists expressed a fairly pessimistic outlook about Qatar’s traffic situation, saying they believed the roads have become more dangerous in recent months.
Many also expressed concerns about the increasing incidences of “distracted driving,” in which motorists are texting or talking on the phone while behind the wheel.
Any strategies to combat such poor driving would be “good for everybody,” Bisbjerg said.