Why insurance companies may repudiate your motor accident claim as a third-party victim

Justice Peprah AGYEI &  Araba Hackman AKANJI

I recently travelled to have the funeral of my late father, Emmanuel Donkor, in my hometown, Wiamoase. There was something that caught my attention because I saw it more than twice. I saw people sitting on goods in a moving truck. This is a goods-carrying vehicle and what will happen to these people when there is a motor accident and they get injured.

Again, what will become of their dependents if they die through motor crush? I began to think about some of the terms and conditions under the motor policy that insurance companies could use to repudiate your compensation claim as a third-party victim even though the insurance policy is valid.

The statistics for motor accidents are scary, and this is why road accident is a national issue in Ghana. ‘Road Traffic Crashes And Casualties In Ghana 2020’, as published by Doris Dokua Sasu on Feb 5, 2021, shows that from January to October 2020, there were nearly 12,100 road traffic accidents in Ghana which involved over 20,400 vehicles. Moreover, the crashes led to 2,080 fatalities and 12,380 injuries.

According to the source, in 2016, more males than females were involved in road crashes. The source further indicated that buses and minibusses were the leading vehicles involved in accidents of this nature, after cars. Road accidents in Ghana remain a major public safety issue.

According to the National Road Safety Commission (NRSC), the statistics show that four (4) people die daily on Ghanaian roads due to road accidents. Estimates show that Ghana loses over US¢230million yearly due to road accidents, with more than 1600 deaths. The loss correlates to 1.7% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The NRSC announced in 2010 that there were 19 fatalities per 10,000 vehicles in Ghana. Statistics showed that 43% of the fatalities involved pedestrians and 53% involved occupants of vehicles. 23% of all pedestrian fatalities involved children below the age of 16 years.

To protect accident victims, many countries acted by making third-party liability insurance compulsory or having security with the Accountant General. In Ghana, the Motor Third Party Act is Act 1958. The following are a few of the things you need to know about your Motor Third Insurance Act 1958;

“Subject to the provisions of this Act, it shall not be lawful for any person to use, or cause or permit any other person to use a motor vehicle on a road, unless there is in force in relation to the user of the vehicle by that person or that other person, as the case may be, such policy of insurance or such a security in respect of third-party risks as complies with the requirements of this Act. If any person acts in contravention of this section, he shall be guilty of an offence and shall, on summary conviction thereof before a Resident Magistrate, be liable to a penalty not exceeding two thousand dollars or to imprisonment, with or without hard labour, for a term not exceeding six months or both penalty and imprisonment”.

The motor third party insurance cover will pay on behalf of the insured or the driver, in respect of a legal liability to third parties resulting from an accident caused by his/her vehicle. In simple terms, the third party is any other person except the owner or the driver of the vehicle and the insurer will indemnify:

  • The owner or any other person driving, using, or in charge of the vehicle with the consent of the owner, or any authorised passenger getting in, on, or out of the vehicle for:
  • death of or bodily injury to any person, and/or
  • damage to property belonging to someone other than the insured
  • death of or bodily injury to a member of the insured household or any other occupants
  • the policy also pays compensation to the driver for bodily injury or death

There are situations where the insurance company may refuse to pay the compensation claim to the third-party victim even though the insurance policy is valid.

There are various motor classifications done at the Drivers and Vehicle License Authority (DVLA). These classifications show the usage and purpose of the vehicle. The number of passengers the vehicle should take and where the seats are fixed is well-known. Trucks are registered as goods-carrying vehicles, and people are not permitted to sit on the trailers or in the trucks.

The only people covered are those who sit in the front section of the vehicle. This means that, when there is a motor crash and you find yourself sitting in the truck or on the trailer and get injured, you are not going to be considered a passenger, hence, you will not receive any compensation. Furthermore, sitting in the bucket of a pick-up vehicle would also prevent you from making a claim when there is a motor crash and you get injured. Insurers could repudiate your claim on these grounds.

Again, where the driver is not licensed to drive or licensed but not for that particular vehicle, and there is a motor crash, the accident victims may also fail to receive compensation claims from the insurance company.

Motor Third Party insurance is critical when there is an accident because it provides compensation for injured third-party victims, and compensation for dependents of people who died through motor accidents or crashes. This is the main reason why occupants of vehicles should always check the validity of the vehicle insurance before they board. It has now become easier to do this by just dialing *920*57#, and inputting the vehicle number into a system on any phone or network at no cost to you.

Justice is a Chartered Insurance Practitioner and an Associate of the Chartered Insurance Institute of United Kingdom and Ghana (ACII-UK, ACIIG),.

Araba is the  head of Business Development Unit at Ghana Communication Technology University,

References

Motor Third Party Policy Document

Motor Third Party Insurance Act 1958

 

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