More than 60% of Chennai's two-wheelers are uninsured

CHENNAI: Last month, a 40-year-old man from Poonamallee, who was driving a scooter with his daughter, was hit by a drunk rider. While his eight-year-old daughter survived, the man sustained severe head injuries and died two days later. The biker who caused the accident fled and worse, had not insured his vehicle.

Anyone driving without a third-party insurance should be treated as a criminal, police officials say. An individual causing an accident without insurance cannot either bear medical expenses or fight a long-drawn court battle which ends up helping the accused rather than the victim.

Without insurance, those who cause accident go all lengths to escape police. "We searched the area for two weeks and when we finally landed at his house, we realized he did not have insurance," said a police officer from the Poonamallee traffic investigation wing. "To cover his act, he went into hiding for two weeks," he added.

Insurers estimate that 60% of two wheelers and motor-cycles on Chennai roads currently don't have insurance, even third party insurance, which is mandated by law. The general public thus remains at risk. When a person driving a two-wheeler hits a pedestrian, the question of claiming insurance doesn't arise at all as the third party cover is not in place. "A majority of such uninsured vehicles are two wheelers," Vijay Kumar, chief technical officer (motor) of Bajaj Allianz General Insurance said.

While insurers say almost all scooters and motor cycles opt for insurance at the time of registration, the problem comes at the time of renewal.

On purchase of a two wheeler, buyers also pay a life time tax for the vehicle. "This tax is normally valid for 15 years. After payment of tax, the government too has no control over the owner as they don't have to visit authorities like RTO on a regular basis," head motor of Royal Sundaram KN Murali said.

To address the problem of low penetration in two wheeler insurance, last year, insurance regulator IRDA allowed third party insurance cover for three years for two wheelers. However, the policy has to be renewed every year in case of own damage cover. But insurers feel this move by IRDA coupled with a push towards online renewal will lead to better penetration in two wheeler insurance in days to come.

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