Browsing 'insurance' News

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To help improve safety on Qatar’s roads, the government has asked insurance companies to start charging risky drivers higher premiums.

According to Gulf Times, the Qatar Central Bank (QCB) issued a circular on Thursday outlining the new policy, stating “the higher the risk of the motorist, the higher the premium.”

The move comes months after one of the country’s largest insurance firms, Qatar Insurance Co. (QIC), began lowering rates for good drivers.

Under that policy, motorists get discounts if they have no accidents or can prove they are driving safely via a mobile phone app that tracks behaviors such as rapid acceleration, harsh braking and speeding.

Carrot versus stick

QIC executive vice-president Frederik Bisbjerg told Doha News today that the approach was like offering people a carrot.

However, he also lauded the government’s new idea – “they’re going out with a stick.”

I’m happy that they’re doing it.”

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According to the QCB circular, factors such as the type of vehicle being driven, distance covered during the year, and number of traffic violations and accidents should all be figured into the new premium rates.

Currently, insurance companies don’t have access to all this information, Bisbjerg said. He added that QIC looks forward to implementing new rates “the second we get the tools.”

In Qatar, the vehicle is usually what’s insured, rather than the driver.

But Bisbjerg said that most of the time, the person taking out the insurance is usually the same one using the car, so knowing more about that person’s track record can make a difference.

Dangerous roads

The memo also asked insurance companies to provide QCB with statistics on “black spots,” or places where accidents frequently occur, around the country.

The cause of these accidents should also be included in the semi-annual reports.

Residents have long lamented bad driving in Qatar, and have called for increased police enforcement of the law.

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So far however, authorities have been more keen to roll out more traffic cameras to catch speeders, those who run red lights and people who overtake other vehicles.

Earlier this year, motorists expressed a fairly pessimistic outlook about Qatar’s traffic situation, saying they believed the roads have become more dangerous in recent months.

Many also expressed concerns about the increasing incidences of “distracted driving,” in which motorists are texting or talking on the phone while behind the wheel.

Any strategies to combat such poor driving would be “good for everybody,” Bisbjerg said.

Thoughts?

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Despite a spate of high-profile fires in Qatar and the region, many residents here neglect to insure their household belongings – which could cause significant financial hardships if an incident occurs, a local expert has said.

This weekend’s massive fire in a Dubai skyscraper has once again highlighted the problem, raising a discussion about the low rates of home insurance among tenants in the region, and the economically devastating consequences.

On Saturday, a fire on several floors of the 79-story Torch Tower in Dubai prompted a mass evacuation of residents. While there were no reports of deaths or serious injuries, several people said they lost all their belongings in the dramatic blaze.

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Here in Qatar, government statistics show there are approximately 1,000 fires annually.

The cause is unknown in the vast majority of cases, but the Ministry of Interior has repeatedly warned residents to take steps to protect themselves from the electrical shortages that most commonly lead to home fires.

Several industry experts say that while it is easy to convince prospective customers to insure their personal belongs, the overall level of awareness is low.

“Many people are not aware that this should be an essential policy for them,” said Elie Saade, a Qatar-based account manager at AXA, which provides insurance services.

Without it, “No one will cover your contents, your belongings,” he noted.

He said there is limited awareness of the importance of tenant’s insurance in Qatar. Most of the demand for the service from his firm is concentrated in the Pearl-Qatar and West Bay areas.

Why not insured

Saade said it is difficult to know why relatively few people insure their personal belongings here. He conceded that his industry could advertise the service more, as some expats come from countries where home insurance is uncommon.

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He also noted that rising rents in Qatar mean that many residents many not have much money left over at the end of the month.

Still, Saade estimated that QR50,000 worth of coverage would only cost between QR500 and QR700 annually in premiums, depending on the nature of the contents in one’s home.

Others in the industry speculate that the transient nature of expat life plays a role in not getting insured.

According to a government household survey, the majority of Qatar’s expats – nearly two-thirds – live in rented accommodation.

“A lot (of expats feel) they’re not here for long, or they buy furniture from Ikea, so they don’t think about how important insurance is, or the risk of theft is low. They think, why spend money on home insurance when they could spend it on something else,” Zahir Sharif, UAE manager of insurer Zurich, told The National.

His firm commissioned a survey in 2013 that found only 6 percent of UAE residents took out home insurance, compared to 75 percent in the UK.

No comparable figures for Qatar were immediately available.

Anecdotally, however, some in the industry said the policies may be more popular here than in the UAE, as it is easy to demonstrate the value of insuring personal possessions such as computers and clothes to potential customers.

“It’s not difficult to convince people to protect the contents of their home,” said Abdul Samad, who works with Qatar-based Damaan Islamic Insurance Co. He told Doha News that he sells about 40 policies each month.

Why it’s needed

Sapish Gurrala, an assistant manager at Qatar General Insurance and Re-Insurance Co., said they had a considerable number of clients who buy housing insurance every month, but he didn’t have exact statistics.

Gurrala said that housing insurance is very important for tenants, even in the case of small accidents.

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He explained that if a tenant accidentally broke a glass window in a rented residence, the insurance company can cover it for him. The same thing applies for all the contents of the house, including the tenants’ belongings in the case of a fire or a plumbing problem.

He expressed sorrow for the residents of Dubai who lost their homes and belongings in the fire.

“They suffer (from) great loss,” he said.

He said that “alternative housing insurance,” that provides accommodation for tenants who lost their “rented apartments” in accidents could help a great deal in cases of fires, like the one that took place in Dubai.

He added that his clients haven’t been subjected to many fires or big accidents.

“The number of fires is very limited,” he said.

Do you have home insurance? Thoughts?

In the past a successful businessman had a stereotype look that included a big belly and sitting on the phone all day at work. Now men are very conscious about their look and presentation: to be successful you need to look young, healthy and fit.

Dr. Ahmed Makki, consultant plastic surgeon and Plastic Surgicentre CEO and founder, in an interview with Gulf Times about the ever-rising popularity of plastic surgery in Qatar.

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He added:

“Our clients were 90% women when we started, but now men make up no less than 30% and it is 50-50 between Qataris and expats.

What’s great about Doha is that it’s very multi-ethnic, and because a beautiful Asian nose for instance isn’t necessarily beautiful on someone else, we’ve gained a lot of rare experience with the various demands here.”

Both private and public hospitals appear to be doing brisk business with regards to cosmetic procedures, with Hamad Medical Corp. previously saying the wait list for surgeries like rhinoplasty (nose jobs) was a year and a half long.

Notably, under the upcoming New Health Insurance Scheme, elective plastic surgery will not be covered, even for locals.

Husein Reka, project manager of the NHIS under the Supreme Council Of Health, told Doha News:

The aim of the NHIS is to ensure that everyone in Qatar has access to the basic set of high quality healthcare services affordably and through a choice of providers.

For clarity, reconstructive surgery will be covered as this will be medically necessary, just as any other clinically indicative services which form part of the benefits package.

Thoughts?

Credit: Photo by Gregor Gruber