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March 27, 2008

New policy requires motorists to file reports in 24 hours

Singapore’s General Insurance Association (GIA) is introducing a new insurance policy starting May requiring motorists to report accidents to their insurance companies within 24 hours or by the next working day.

Currently, motorists are required to reporting within a "reasonable time", which is open to interpretation, said Channel News Asia.

The move came as the motor insurance sector reported a hefty loss of  S$103.2 million (Singapore dollars ) last year, up from just S$625,000 in 2006.

The GIA said compulsory reporting will leave less room for disputes, especially when a motorist chooses not to report the accident but the other party involved decides to file for claims at a later date.

Gross insurance premiums in Singapore's general insurance sector rose 8.38 percent last year to about S$2.5 billion, but it was overshadowed by the significant underwriting loss in the business, causing profits to slump by 25 percent year on year in 2007.

The S$103.2 million deficit incurred last year was the worst for the sector since 2002. This coincided with a sharp rise in accident reports – from 129,428 in 2006 to 151,583 cases last year.

The association said there are several reasons for the spike in accident reports. Among them is an increase in the vehicle population to an all-time high of over 850,000 vehicles last year – an 8 percent climb from 2006.

Other reasons cited were greater vehicle usage and a larger number of foreigners who may be unfamiliar with the roads in Singapore.

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