How To Get Insurance in Jamaica
Navigating Auto Insurance
Car insurance is a mandatory requirement for getting a motor vehicle in Jamaica. In fact, before you can purchase a vehicle i.e. transfer it into your name, you must show proof that you have insurance for it.
The industry is regulated by the Financial Services Commission (FSC). Auto insurance forms a part of a wider insurance category called “General Insurance” or “Casualty Insurance” which basically covers any other peril that is not Health or Life Insurance (i.e. cars, homes, contents of a home, boats or even a pianist’s fingers). It can be obtained directly through a regulated insurance entity, a list of which are named on the FSC’s website under Registered Insurance Companies: http://www.fscjamaica.org/regulated-industries/content-1200.html and seen in the image below.
At the time of writing there are twelve (12) insurance companies located in Jamaica as follows:
So why do you need insurance?
A common misconception is that you can use insurance to cover the everyday repairs if something happens to your car or house etc. If you are driving down the road and your transmission goes, the insurance company will not pay for it to be fixed. If you are driving down the road and a mango drops on your windshield, the insurance will cover that but usually at most once or twice a year. If you are driving down the road and someone else accidentally swerves into your car, insurance will cover it. Think about the road deaths on Jamaica’s roads and the experiences you see every day with accidents. Our drivers are impatient, often disobey signals and believe they are a law onto themselves, which is evident in the fact that last year 383 persons died in road traffic accidents in Jamaica.
To summarize it, insurance is for accidents. You are purchasing it to be able to repair someone else’s vehicle or your own vehicle in case something happens on the road and there is damage done. Persons may also be injured or die as a result of an accident which you contributed towards or you may cause damage to someone else’s property. The insurance will cover their medical expenses or other expenses that arise if certain events happen and it can be shown that the damage was as a result of the vehicle you were driving.
The type of coverage you can get usually falls in two main categories; Third-party insurance and comprehensive insurance. Third-party insurance covers the damage of the other person’s vehicle in case you are in an accident and you are determined to be at fault. On the other hand, comprehensive insurance will cover your vehicle and the other person’s vehicle as well.
How do you get insurance?
In addition to the 12 Insurance Companies, the FSC lists 24 Insurance Brokers in Jamaica as of July 2019. Insurance Brokers will shop around with each of the insurance companies to get the best insurance price for you. This price is usually called your insurance premium.
You can visit either the insurance brokers/insurance companies local branches or their websites to buy insurance. The companies will ask for your basic information for KYC purposes (who you are, where you live etc.) and of course information about the car you wish to buy. If you’re not ready to buy yet and want to have an idea of the cost, some insurance websites can give you a quote on how much you would expect to pay for insurance.
What determines my insurance cost?
Insurance prices will typically depend on:
- Your Gender
- Your Occupation
- Your Age
- Your Years Driving
- No Claim Bonus*
- The Year, Make and Model of the Vehicle you want to insure
- The value of the vehicle you want to insure
- Whether it is comprehensive or third-party insurance you wish to purchase.
A quick explanation as to why these things matter:
- Females are safer drivers than males. It’s a fact. Of the road deaths in Jamaica 80% are males. The World Health Organization states that the percentage of road traffic deaths that are male is 73%. Jamaican men are riskier in their driving behavior and risk comes at a cost. Past history is a strong predictor of future behavior so men, encourage others to be safer on the road so you pay lower premiums.
- Riskier occupations will command a higher premium. If you are a race car driver, you will typically pay a little more than a pastor or a nun.
- Older more experienced drivers will pay a little less than a younger driver with a new licence, for obvious reasons.
- More expensive cars (or cars with more expensive parts) will have a larger premium.
- Third-party insurance is cheaper than comprehensive, since its only one vehicle that will be fixed instead of two. I would only recommend to get third-party if you have enough funds to repair your vehicle yourself and only need insurance as a legal requirement.
Most persons don’t know that you can pay your insurance over a period of up to nine months if you apply for insurance premium financing. I pay for mine over three months interest-free through my insurer, who allows me to pay half now and half in three months. You don’t always have to come up with the entire premium at once.
Common Insurance Terms
PREMIUM: The amount that you pay for insurance coverage.
COVER-NOTE: A TEMPORARY (usually one – 3 months max) document that has an expiry date that shows that you have paid for a portion of your insurance premium. Usually once you pay the full premium you will get an INSURANCE CERTIFICATE which is good for the duration of the policy which is usually one year.
NO-CLAIM BONUS: If you have never had an accident or a significant period has passed since your last accident, then you can use your no-claim bonus to pay less on your insurance policy.
EXCESS/ DEDUCTIBLE: The amount you will pay in the case you have to make a claim on your insurance policy. e.g. if you have an accident that it is determined will cost $50,000 to fix, if your deductible is $5,000 the insurance company will pay $45,000 and you will pay $5,000.
I hope this helps in understanding how to get insurance!
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