The traffic in Lagos has been hellish in the last few weeks. We were in the traffic the other day when a driver threatened to disfigure another driver’s face with blows if he hit his vehicle. And then I said to myself, if you disfigure his face, he will get you sued for assault and battery and you can end up in jail if convicted. On the other hand, that person you think is a walkover in a physical combat can be strong enough to beat three people like you put together. Looks can be deceptive; go to the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos, and see the killer-skills some ordinary-looking people possess and you will understand what I am talking about.
Some Nigerians just love fighting and having shouting matches over vehicular accidents. It is totally unnecessary. If another vehicle hits your vehicle on the road, get down and take photos of the accident scene. Good enough, many of us use phones that have cameras. Then take the registration number of the alleged tortfeasor (negligent driver). Many of us also use internet-enabled phones, so go to the website of the Nigerian Insurance Industry Data Base and use the vehicle registration number to check the insurance status of the other vehicle. If it has a valid motor insurance, there is no problem because the insurance (whether comprehensive, third party fire and theft or third party only) covers his liability for third party property damage to the tune of N1000,000.
All the aggrieved party needs to do is to call the other party aside and reason with him on what to do. The ‘guilty party’ should notify his insurer of the accident and explain in writing what happened. He does not need to accept liability. From his account, the insurer will determine if he is liable. For instance, if he tells his insurer that he rammed into the vehicle in front of him, the probability is that he is the guilty party. If he is guilty in the insurer’s estimation, the insurer will ask for a quote for the repairs of the third party vehicle and/or assess the damage while waiting for the repair estimate. As long as the cost of repairs is within the N1 million limit of liability for third party property damage, the insurer will pay, of course minus excess (we have explained excess in the past; that it is the portion of each and every claim that the policy holder bears. It is basically to encourage policy holders to be careful and live as if they were not insured). If it is over a million, any amount for the repairs above N1 million devolves to the guilty party. That is when there might be issues for the negligent party, but whatever the additional cost of repairs is, N1 million off the repair cost is still a major relief. One way out of such a scenario is to pay additional premium and increase your limit of liability for third party property damage.
On the other hand, if the negligent party has a fake insurance, he has no recourse to an insurance company for relief. In that case, the party whose vehicle was damaged can impress it on the wrong party that he has put a vehicle on the road without insurance and it is an offence. The Motor Vehicles (Third Party) Insurance Act of 1945, which took effect from 1st April 1950, makes it an offence for anybody to use a motor vehicle on the road without having in place the minimum Motor (Third Party) Insurance to cover the motorist against liabilities arising from third party bodily injuries or death. The negligent party can quietly agree in writing to fix your vehicle or you go to the law enforcement agents to report the incident and expose his crime.
But getting justice in Nigeria is sometimes like passing through the eye of a needle and some people find this discouraging. If you have comprehensive motor insurance, in this case, simply report the accident to your insurer; they will settle the claim. Get the details of the negligent party and give to your insurer. Your insurer can now pursue subrogation rights if it so desires. Subrogation is the legal right of your insurer to recoup from the negligent party, the amount it has paid you in settlement of your claim, after paying your claim. In practice, insurers exercise this right while processing the insured’s claim.
I know some people who have read so far will say this is too much walaha. Aha, you do not even have to bother yourself with any of these processes. A registered insurance broker will do it and do it professionally for you. Right from the time you purchased the vehicle, your insurance broker, who is your agent, will undertake risk evaluation and assessment of the vehicle. He will shop around underwriters and get you the best cover at the best rate. Although motor policies are substantially the same, there are extra incentives offered by some insurers. A registered insurance broker will advise policy holders on their rights and obligations under a motor insurance policy. That way, you know the dos and don’ts and what to do in the event of an accident. Your insurance broker also renders personalized insurance services to you. You are his ‘employer’ and he treats you as one. Insurance brokers know the most customer-friendly insurance companies to recommend in most situations. The truth is some insurance companies are better than others in underwriting and handling certain insurance products, so brokers know the insurance companies to recommend to their clients because of their vast knowledge of the insurance market. Our topic today is on simplifying claims procedure. The best route an insured can take to simplify his claims procedure is to do his insurance through a registered insurance broker. When an insured does that, if he has a claim, he stays in the comfort of his office, while the insurance broker processes the claim. The only thing he will get at the end of the day is his cheque or an alert for the payment of his claim.
Also, insurance brokers help to process the claims of clients and ensure the claims are promptly paid. An insurance broker also helps clients to periodically review their insurance portfolio among other roles. The icing on the cake in all these is that the services of insurance brokers come FOC (free; of charge); it costs the client nothing.