More motor accidents, but insurance claims are down

More motor accidents, but insurance claims are down
PHOTO: The Straits Times

The number of motor accidents in Singapore rose sharply last year, but the total value of motor insurance claims actually fell.

In trying to reconcile the two contrasting trends, the General Insurance Association (GIA) suspects that the rise of private-hire cars may have played a part.

Their drivers may have contributed to more accidents.

Also, since they typically pay higher amounts out of their own pocket while making a claim, they are unlikely to claim for minor accidents.

5-YEAR HIGH

The GIA said yesterday that motor accident reports last year soared to a five-year high of 161,361 - nearly 8 per cent higher than the 149,511 reports made in 2015.

To the GIA's surprise, despite more accident reports, the total value of motor insurance claims fell 8.5 per cent to $494.4 million.

The total vehicle population also slid a little to 956,430 as of the end of last year, from 957,246 in 2015.

The association said it is investigating the reasons behind the higher number of accident reports.

GIA chief executive Derek Teo noted that there are more private-hire cars on the road, and many of their drivers are young and inexperienced.

Said Mr Teo: "This emerging trend could contribute to the increased number of accident reports. We will find ways to capture data relating to this segment of drivers.

"If our suspicion is right, we will engage with relevant stakeholders and the authorities to address the issue."

In recent years, the number of Uber and Grab drivers has soared.

The insurance excess, or the sum the claimant pays when making a claim on a car insurance policy, is usually high for private-hire cars.

The sum ranges between $2,500 and $5,000, compared with between $750 and $3,000 for normal cars.

This may discourage some private-hire cars owners from claiming for minor accidents.

The GIA said it is unlikely that the rise in accident reports will lead to higher premiums for all motorists.

Mr Teo said: "We will find out what are the trigger points for the increased number of accident reports and apply pricing changes for the specific segment of drivers, if necessary."

The motor insurance industry stayed profitable, with underwriting profit at $87.4 million, down 27.7 per cent from 2015.

lornatan@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on March 15, 2017.
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