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New Ruling for Accident Claims

In Trinidad and Tobago, the accident claims process is reforming. An Appeal Court judge has ruled that insurance companies which have paid out the maximum statutory amount in accident claims arising out of car accidents are not to be held responsible for any additional claims.
The landmark ruling was made in the Court of Appeal last week by Justice Margot Warner, who presided by Justices Stanley John and Alice Yorke Soo-Hon, delivered the judgement, declaring that once insurance companies have paid out the limit on claims, they do not have to make any other additional payments.
The ruling was decided after an appeal arose out of a 1998 road accident case which involved Roland Gokool, whose vehicle was insured by Motor and General Insurance Company.
A number of claims were made and the insurance company paid out the maximum amount of $1 million under the Motor Vehicles Insurance (Third Party Risks) Act. This act has since been amended, and the statutory limit was increased to $2 million.
After the money was paid out, other claims were made, one of which came from Elizabeth Ram, an administrator of the estate Pearl Baboolal, who died in the accident.
The insurance company refused to award any more compensation and stated that it had already paid the maximum amount.
However, High Court judge Justice Sebastian Ventour had ruled that the insurance company should have advertised to determine the total number of claimants before paying out proportionality on such claims. The matter was appealed by the insurance firm.
Ken Sagar, a lawyer for the Motor and General Insurance Company, who was instructed by Imran Khan argued that Ventour’s decision was unreasonable and noted that the legislation does not place liability on an insurance company to find the claimants, nor did it state how much money should be awarded.
The Appeal Court agreed with Sagar stating: “There is no provision in the Act for claims to be settled proportionately or partially. It seems to me that once an insurer has acted honestly that is what is required.”
Fuel tax increase to reform accident claims
Similarly, South Africa is also trying to reform its accident claims procedure. The National Treasury announced that it will be increasing its fuel tax, to reduce the number of car accidents and accident claims.
Finance Minister Trevor Manuel noted that 23% of the general fuel costs would be used to support expenditure on the roads and transportation and added that “these are costs that have to be covered.”
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