In photo: Larenzo Ratteray
Story by Tim Smith
In these difficult financial times, it’s more important than ever that you think carefully as you choose your vehicle insurance.
Whether you opt for comprehensive or third-party coverage, there are other key decisions that can help ensure you get the best deal to suit your personal circumstances.
Larenzo Ratteray, group head of consumer solutions at BF&M, said drivers on low or reduced income can choose to spread their spending over time instead of paying in one lump sum.
“One offering that BF&M provides that can help manage costs is payment of premiums by instalments,” Mr Ratteray said.
“Customers can either set up a credit or debit card standing order to pay either monthly, quarterly or semi-annually. Or they can pay by electronic funds transfer with a standing order to pay either monthly, quarterly or semi-annually.”
People with private car policies can also reduce premiums by voluntarily increasing their policy deductible, which is the amount you must spend before the policy pays for some or all of your claims.
“If you increase the deductible by 150 per cent, you can receive a 12.5 per cent discount on your total premium,” Mr Ratteray said.
Customers can further reduce premiums by limiting their policy coverage to two named drivers.
Mr Ratteray explained: “BF&M’s standard coverage includes all drivers who have the vehicle owner’s permission and a valid Bermuda driver’s licence. By restricting the number of drivers covered, you can receive a 10 per cent discount.”
One of the biggest decisions, of course, is to select between comprehensive and third-party coverage.
Comprehensive covers you for repairs or replacement of your vehicle when it is damaged by collision, fire, lightning, riot, malicious acts or theft.
It also provides liability coverage for up to $5,000,000 for passengers in private cars only, or third-party injury coverage, and up to $500,000 for damage to third party property.
Selecting third-party insurance gives you coverage you for liability only for injuries to another person.
BF&M offers a roadside assistance option which can be added to motor policies to give you coverage of incidents like getting a flat tyre or battery, needing to be towed or getting locked out of your vehicle.
Of course, the safer you drive, the better your chances of keeping your premium low.
“We highly encourage people to drive safely following all traffic rules and laws,” Mr Ratteray said.
“Underwriters often consider prior collisions and traffic offences when determining the cost of an individual’s insurance premium.”
Mr Ratteray hopes better safety features in vehicles will lead to fewer crashes, and therefore help keep costs down.
He said: “With growing improvements in technology, we will hopefully see additional safety features such as blind-spot monitoring, forward-collision warning, and autonomous emergency braking on all vehicles, which will help reduce the number of costly incidents on the road.”
Although the island is expected to see an increase in electric vehicles, he noted this would not be reflected in the driver’s motor insurance.
“It is very encouraging to see vehicle owners making decisions to reduce our local carbon footprint,” Mr Ratteray said.
“In insurance terms, however, at this time electric vehicles are considered no differently than traditional petrol-powered vehicles in terms of their operating risk on the road.”
BF&M also took the opportunity to note that the policy of insurance is not transferable when people buy and sell vehicles.
Mr Ratteray clarified: “If you intend to sell your vehicle, the new owner must take out insurance in their name as if they intend to operate the vehicle immediately upon completion of the sale.”