Protection for e-hailing passengers

This one is a good. It is found in the Star newspaper.

Here you go….

For convenience, I frequently use e-hailing services even though I own a car. I opt for the service whenever I go to unfamiliar places or where parking is scarce.

Except for one distinct concern, I am happy with this mode of transport. Fares are fixed in advance and drivers are generally well behaved knowing that you have the option of rating them favourably or otherwise at the end of the ride.

To the best of my knowledge, all e-hailing cars are privately owned vehicles. Being private cars, the insurance cover clearly limits their use for “social, domestic and pleasure purposes and for the policyholder’s business.”

When fares are charged, it is obvious the cars are used for hire. Even if the driver is my friend and decides to give me a free ride and I buy him a drink in appreciation, it is considered a reward within the ambit of the policy exclusions.

When a private car is used for hire or reward, its owner (notwithstanding the policy being comprehensive cover), will not be able to claim for repair costs if his car is damaged whilst being used at the material time of the accident.

Worse still, if the passenger is seriously injured, the policy will not indemnify the owner if the injured passenger succeeds in any legal action instituted.

One company seems to have taken a master personal accident policy insuring both their drivers and also passengers against accidental death, permanent disability and medical expenses.

However, the limit of each cover is not stated. It is unclear whether additional cover has been arranged to protect their drivers against passengers’ liability claims.

Based on past case laws, it is acknowledged that the passenger has absolutely no control of the car whilst being driven.

All that an injured passenger needs to do is to establish 1% negligence against the driver and the court would award him/her 100% damages unless it is proven that the passenger is partly responsible for causing the accident.

In such an event, contributory negligence would apply to proportionately reduce the awarded damages.

In July 2017, the Dewan Rakyat passed an amendment to the Land Public Transport Act 2010 and the Commercial Vehicles Licensing Board Act 1987 which legalised ride hailing firms and classified their vehicles as public service vehicles.

Arising from that, operators would need to obtain an “intermediation business licence” for the business of facilitating arrangements, bookings or transactions of ride sharing vehicles.

In spite of the July 2017 amendment to the Acts referred above, proper and adequate insurance covers to passengers were by and large still overlooked.

Personal accident cover remains inadequate especially in cases involving serious injuries.

Taking the owner of the vehicle to court and succeeding in the legal action is of little comfort if the owner simply has no financial means.

Whatever little money the owner has would undoubtedly be used for repairs to the car itself since accidental damage cannot be claimed by virtue of policy exclusions.

Since private cars being used for e-hailing are now considered public service vehicles, the premium payable for this class of vehicle should not be rated as private cars any more.

The General Insurance Association of Malaysia (PIAM) should work out an equitable rate where the premium for e-hailing vehicles is higher than that charged for private cars, but lower than that of taxis.

Many e-hailing drivers are part-timers looking for supplementary income and therefore the time their cars are on the road is less. Theoretically the risks assumed by insurers are likewise less than that of taxis.

In consideration of the revised higher premium payable by e-hailing car owners, the policy exclusion of hire or reward should be deleted.

With this deletion, car owners can claim for damage to their vehicles. Likewise they will also be indemnified for passenger liability claims as such cover is mandatory for public service vehicles.

Puspakom inspections should be waived for such cars not exceeding six years. Those exceeding six years but below 10 would need to undergo inspection once every year.

PETER KING

Kuala Lumpur

Read more at https://www.thestar.com.my/opinion/letters/2018/11/01/protecting-passengers/#VQ59JbkBsFhuzKAG.99

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