Premiums could rise if trend continues

Observer writer

Friday, January 31, 2020

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Peter Levy, president of the Insurance Association of Jamaica (IAJ), is urging drivers to be cognisant of their surroundings when leaving their vehicles, given the 37 per cent spike in motor vehicle thefts.

According to the president, if the claims of theft continue to rise then that could lead to an increase in insurance premiums.

“We [IAJ] have about nine or 10 branches that all have their own policy so, it's hard for me to say if premiums will go up. Obviously, if the claims of motor vehicle theft continue to go up then that would lead to an increase,”  Levy told the Jamaica Observer's weekly Auto magazine yesterday.

According to official statistics from the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), last year a total of 613 motor vehicles were stolen, while 448 went missing in 2018.

In 2017 and 2016, 612 and 613 vehicles were reported stolen, respectively.

“However, the number of reported thefts are not alarming. If one in every 100 cars per annum or one in every 1,000 cars were getting stolen then yes, we would have to look into that,” he said.

According to figures from the IAJ, insurance companies paid out a total of $12.8 billion in claims to motorists from January to November last year.

This was a 15 per cent jump compared to 2018, which saw companies paying $11.1 billion.

“From the police's point of view, they have to deal with the numbers [of stolen vehicles] but we look at the frequency at which they're being stolen as well as the frequency of accident vehicles to be repaired,” he continued.

Since January 11, 2020, 16 motor vehicles have been reported stolen, according to the JCF.

Levy, who was elected head of the IAJ in 2018, shone some light on the types of vehicles stolen.

“The cars that get stolen the most are usually the most common at the time, so it varies. The incentive for stealing these popular cars is to scrap them and sell their parts as those parts, would be in high demand,” he said.

He, however, declined to list any of these "popular cars".

The insurance guru offered several tips on how drivers can protect their vehicles.

“Some of the most common causes of motor vehicle theft is that drivers leave their vehicles in crowded areas and unattended; they leave their cars parked in unfamiliar places overnight; they park them in areas that are not well-lit, so nobody can see them.

Remember, thieves work better when nobody is seeing what they're doing. Of course, there are many other causes for motor vehicle theft but there are certain ways to minimise this,” Other ways of protecting motor vehicles include adding alarms, trackers, and kill switches. These switches­ disrupt the flow of electricity at the battery or ignition switch or disable the fuel pump.

The IAJ is the umbrella organisation of the insurance industry comprises six life and nine general insurance companies in Jamaica. Its mission is to provide world-class support services to the Jamaican insurance industry through effective lobbying, provision of information for decision-making, opening avenues for addressing common concerns, and encouraging sound industry practices and the ethical conduct of members.

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