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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Newspaper campaigns for greater transparency and coverage from car insurance companies

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Peninsula is running two stories today focusing on Qatar’s car insurance industry, arguing that policies here are often unfair and unclear.

Entitled Insured, Not Secure! and Agony of Motorists, they detail the experiences of residents who have experienced delays, frustration and financial loss following accidents which were not their fault.

My vehicle was involved in a traffic accident months ago”, says an unnamed driver. “Police specifically reported that I was the victim and not the cause. When I approached the insurance company of the other car, they told me I have to pay 50 percent of the cost of the spares if I wanted a new replacement. Or, I could go for counterfeit parts or the used ones. I had no option but to pay QR3,000, 50 percent of the cost of new spare parts.”

According to Peninsula, victims are being charged for a proportion of repair costs even when the guilty party has comprehensive insurance covering the cost of repairing both vehicles. 

Peninsula states that comprehensive insurance coverage in Qatar will only pay the full cost of repairs in the year after the car is first registered. In the second year, parts are deemed to “depreciate” by 5 percent, and by 10% in the third and fourth years, the paper adds.

This means that as the car ages, customers must foot more and more of the repair bill, even if the police have decided that the accident is not your fault.

“If a car (damaged in an accident) is more than four years old, its owner is required to share the cost of the new ‘commercial’ spare parts being replaced in case used parts are not available in the market”, said Samer Ahmed Qawas, Assistant General Manager (Legal and Claims) at Doha Insurance, interviewed by Peninsula in February this year. 

Many insurance policies also do not cover the cost of a hire car while a vehicle is being fixed, leading to large rental bills, the paper adds.

In Qatar, each car is insured, rather than each driver. This leads to an unfair system where safe drivers are being penalised for the reckless actions of a a few, says the paper.

The article suggests that car insurance should be based on the car owner’s driving record, meaning that dangerous drivers would pay more, and safer drivers would pay less – an insurance model used in many parts of the world. 

The newspapers is also calling for regulation of the industry, pointing out that there is no independent body that defends consumer rights.

Most insurance companies also do not provide full contracts to their customers, says lawyer Khalifa Jassem Eisa Al Haddad, quoted in the paper:

“Insurance providers are operating on their whims…There is no monitoring…There is no control over them,” he adds. “So what we need is a contract — and a detailed one at that — which fixes the rights and responsibilities of both the parties: the insurance provider and the policy holder.”

The paper also claims that some insurance companies are deliberately limiting the number of third party insurance policies they sell, in direct contravention of Qatar’s laws, which require them to sell a policy to anyone who wants one.

Car accidents are increasingly common on Qatar’s congested roads, jumping some 160 percent between 2000 and 2010.

The government has responded by launching an “Emergency Action Plan” to identify common accident spots, and review traffic laws and signs.

Have you had trouble making a claim after a car accident in Qatar? 

Credit: Photo by Jeffedoe

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