Motor vehicle accidents can and often will happen; even to the best of us “expert” drivers out there. It’s a statistical fact, the more you use the roadways, the higher your chances of being involved in a fender bender or worse.
I often heave a sigh of relief and offer up songs of thanksgiving every time I arrive at my destination without a scratch! Sing Hallelujah with me folks! Driving on Lagos roads and highways is not easy; think about all the other crazy drivers trying to edge you out of your lane and you still need to watch out for other road hazards such as: pot holes, rickshaws, okada riders, bike delivery riders, keke napep (marwa), danfo buses and the dreaded Lagbus drivers; who will rip your car to shreds if you get too close.
So how do you stay ahead of the curve to mitigate, if not completely eliminate the discomfort and annoyance of this eventual occurrence? Proper valid car insurance is your best and safest bet, if your’e insured, make sure you stay insured and update your policy as appropriate, if you’re not; go out and get yours
Just get on your computer and buy one online, right now! There are a few sites that will help you compare and buy insurance from your smartphone, tablet or laptop.
Why is car insurance so important to and for our individual and collective well-being? I like to think of it as a personal reflection of of our individual standards of social responsibility. Possessing the bare minimum third party insurance policy, shows that vehicle owner is law abiding and considerate enough to provide a financial remedy to any road user that he might accidentally come into “contact” with.
There are typically 3 levels or types of motor vehicle insurance available to Nigerian motorists, these are:
- Comprehensive vehicle coverage – which covers the owner from virtually all types of damage, loss or collision situations. It also covers any other party involved in the accident, if the insured is at fault obviously.
- Third Party Fire & Theft (TPFT) – Covers the insured from losses arising from fire or theft and provides coverage to third parties for damage caused by the insured’s vehicle.
- Motor Third Party – TP covers only damages caused to a 3rd party by your vehicle. It doesn’t cover you or your vehicle. It is the minimum legal requirement.
Make no mistake, the Insurance Act of 2003 states unequivocally that Motor Third Party Insurance is compulsory under the law: The policy covers liability for death or bodily injury to a third party arising from the use of the vehicle. Section 68 of the Insurance Act 2003 extends the liability to cover damage to the property of a third party to the tune of One Million Naira. It also makes it a criminal offence not to have a motor vehicle third party insurance policy and the penalty for non-compliance is imprisonment for one year or a fine of N250,000 or both.
Non compliance by any vehicle owner or operator essentially labels the person a criminal under the eyes of the law. Are you in full compliance with this legal requirement?
Hope you’ve not fallen asleep on me yet ;)… believe me I know how boring write ups on insurance generally are; but think about these numbers for a second: There are –
- 16 -17 million cars in Nigeria (estimated)
- 4.3 million registered on the Nigeria Insurance Industry Database (NIID). Give or take a few hundred thousand lapsed/expired policies http://www.askniid.org/
- 12 million plus motorists likely carrying forged/counterfeit insurance documentation a.k.a “let me pass”
Starting to see the picture here? Not having your own insurance coverage exposes you greatly to the risk of encountering one of those 12 million motorists. At this point in our nation’s development, people are still being educated on the benefits of carrying proper policy coverage and it’s catching on, albeit extremely slowly. So it behooves you and I to play our part in spreading the word about the importance and advantage of having at the very minimum a third party coverage policy.
In the event of an accident, here are some suggestions to handle the situation:
- Take a moment to compose yourself after the initial impact; make sure it’s safe to exit your vehicle, especially on the highway. Get your smart phone ready to take pictures of the number plate and driver of the vehicle in question. In all this, please FIRST make sure you and your passengers have not sustained any life threatening injuries.
- Check the physical condition of the other party.
- Make a quick visual assessment of the event, ask for driver’s licence and insurance information.
- Start taking pictures of the accident scene; if you are fortunate, the vehicle’s registration information may be displayed on the windshield of the car, take pictures immediately. Ensure you have enough picture documentation.
- If the driver presents their licence and insurance certificate, take pictures but do not attempt to “seize” the document. However if they don’t, you should by now have enough picture evidence to present to your insurance company.
- Move all vehicles out of traffic to a safe area of the roadway. This will achieve two ends: it ensures your personal safety and it restores normal flow of traffic for other road users as well.
- Call your insurance company on the spot, report the event and forward all relevant details.
- There is also the possibility that the other party involved will attempt to escape from your “custody” particularly if he/she is at fault. This is why you need to cover yourself against all possible events such as this, do not engage the other person in shouting matches, insults or physical attacks, it is not in your best interests.
- You might also want to ask your insurance provider if they have a database that collects information on errant drivers and vehicles that have no insurance plying the roads of Lagos.
Most traffic events may leave you feeling like this guy, it doesn’t mean the situation can’t be salvaged.
The above suggestions assume the following:
a. You have insurance coverage.
b. The other motorist also has insurance and is just as reasonable as you are.
c. The event is non life threatening and the vehicles involved are still driveable.
Unfortunately the more likely scenario is that you will be dealing with one of Lagos’ road menaces, such as a danfo driver or okada rider 🙁
In such a situation, my advice is that you cut your losses; get as much documentation as possible then move on. It’ll be nothing short of a miracle to find a responsible commercial bus driver with proper insurance coverage. Particularly with tricycles (marwa) and okada’s; the situation could easily spiral out of control, these guys roaming the streets are not timid or scared of you these days, they’ve now got the advantage of numbers and are not afraid to engage in mob action.
Remember the LASTMA officer killed by okada riders and other miscreants in Apapa recently? A really sad matter indeed. These guys can be extremely dangerous.
If you are driving alone or female or both, be extra careful when stopping to engage anyone after a traffic incident particularly late at night. Unfortunately, our society is still extremely patriarchal in it’s regard for women and their status in the society. I often cringe when hear barely literate men loudly proclaim” na woman o…!” while strolling by the scene of a minor fender bender ; like being a woman has some inherent physical or mental disability that explains the situation at hand i.e. the traffic incident. Never mind that the other driver is glaringly at fault. This is actually a topic I’d like to talk more about on a future post; please comment if you agree.
Hope you found this post useful, let’s be safe out there when we find ourselves on the mean streets of Gidi.
If you ever find yourself in an accident situation, don’t be a stranger…call Citiwebb Auto Service Centre, we can help with towing your vehicle if required and perform all repair and restoration work on your car; both for insurance and self pay scenarios.
We are here for you.
Yours in motoring,