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Public buses and taxis lack full insurance

Long-distance buses – including those that ply the notorious “Death Highway” between Yangon and Mandalay – lack sufficient insurance coverage, insurance officials say.

They have embarked on a campaign to persuade bus companies to take out insurance so they can compensate passengers for their injuries in the event of an accident, and say that many taxis also lack comprehensive insurance coverage.

In the absence of any law requiring drivers to be comprehensively insured, the insurance take-up rate in Myanmar is very low, said U Aye Min Thein, managing director of Myanma Insurance.

The government allows only 11 private insurance companies to operate, including Myanma Insurance; that is, five life insurance firms and six life and general insurance companies.

Every registered vehicle in Myanmar has third-party insurance because the Road Transport Administration Department (RTAD) requires it. But Myanmar law does not require comprehensive car insurance, which means few people look beyond the required basics.

Third-party insurance only protects the driver against damages caused to other vehicles or individuals in the case of an accident.

Last year, it emerged that only about 27,000 drivers carried comprehensive insurance out of some 600,000 vehicles on Yangon’s roads. The figure has now risen to around 60,000, U Aye Min Thein said.

“The RTAD has registered about 800,000 cars now, which leaves more than 700,000 cars without comprehensive insurance. There is no law requiring it, unlike in Malaysia, where all car users must carry comprehensive insurance,” he said.

Comprehensive insurance rates vary depending on the type of use, with ordinary passenger vehicle owners paying K140,000 for K10 million worth of coverage, while a taxi driver might have to pay K180,000 to reflect the greater exposure to accident.

“Taxis are for business use and run on the road all day, so are more likely to get into accidents than private vehicles,” said U Aye Min Thein.

“We tell taxi drivers that they need insurance, and only have to make one annual payment. If they have comprehensive insurance, they can receive compensation themselves and pay it to others.”

Regardless, comprehensive insurance is much more expensive than third-party automobile cover, which costs between K5000 and K15,000 per year. A driver who only holds third-party insurance can receive maximum compensation of K1 million in case of death, while a driver with comprehensive insurance can receive K2 million.

U Aye Min Thein said bus drivers should also take out the full insurance package.

“We do push highway express bus owners to take out comprehensive insurance to ensure they can compensate passengers in the event of an accident,” he said.

“Highway buses should have comprehensive insurance because one bus carries about 40 passengers, and their lives are in the driver’s hands.”

In the most recent accident, two people were killed and at least 25 others injured when an express bus veered off the Yangon-Mandalay highway en route to Taungoo on July 15.

In the first half of 2016, an average of nearly 14 people were killed in traffic accidents countrywide each day.

Most accidents along the Yangon-Mandalay highway are attributed to driver error, but engineers have also admitted that the road is badly designed and was rushed in construction, leaving it without many international safety features. A total of 4313 deaths occurred along the road in 2014.

Driver Ko Thet Aung, who lives in Tarmwe Township, said, “Myanmar people aren’t familiar with comprehensive insurance. The premiums look expensive, and the law doesn’t require it. And there’s always the question of whether the insurance company will actually pay up. You think an accident isn’t going to happen to you.”

 

Source: The Myanmar Times

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