The flurry of reports about car accidents in the past week seems to make a good case for Singapore's decision to halt car production to reduce car congestion and focus on optimising mass transit. However, until we see a significant change in Singapore's transportation infrastructure, we should focus on alleviating the greatest pain that currently comes with driving: the financial costs of getting into an accident.
Usually, your car insurance should step in to help you out, but there may be some instances where your car insurance will refuse your claim. Below, we analyse some of the most common types of car crashes in Singapore that accounted for 95% of all car-related accidents in 2017 and whether they'll be covered by your car insurance.
While speed-related accidents have been declining over the past years, they still account for around 10% of all motor-related accidents with speeding causing 762 accidents in 2017.
While we all want to get to our destinations more quickly, it is important that you stay close to the speed of the cars around you and follow speed limit laws. Otherwise, you may risk getting arrested, rear ending another car, running a red light or hitting a pedestrian.
If you are at fault, you should be prepared to pay an excess on your claim since you will be filing a claim against your own policy. This could easily cost you S$400 to S$800, depending on the excess you had set with your insurer. Not only that, but you will also have to work with the third party's insurer to determine who was at fault.
If you were at fault (and you likely will be if you were the one that was speeding), your insurance premium can increase by 30-50%. However, you will not be covered for any claims if you were speeding for illegal recreational purposes (for example, participating in a street race).
Drink driving accidents, which have been hovering around 140 incidents each year for the past 5 years and accounted for 2% of all motor-related accidents in 2017, are thankfully on the decline. However, even though they are few in number, accidents caused by drink drivers usually result in hefty damages.
Unsurprisingly, if you get into an accident while drink driving, your insurer will not pay out for any damages, loss or injuries. Not only is drink driving illegal, but you also risk having to pay out tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees, car damages and medical expenses.
The moral of the story here is just don't do it—your insurer won't have your back if something happens and you'll end up arrested or worse.
Reckless Driving (Non-Speed Related)
Most of Singapore's car accidents are due to reckless driving, with around 6,000 cases recorded per year and accounting for 86% of accidents in 2017. Reckless driving includes not paying proper attention to the road, failing to keep a proper lookout, running red lights and turning without care.
In fact, 41 fatalitieswere recorded due to drivers simply failing to pay attention to road conditions (i.e. distracted due to texting). If the cause of the accident were due to you texting, you should know that holding any type of mobile device is now illegal and is a reasonable cause for fines and even jailtime.
Additionally, your car insurance policy will be voided afterwards. Even if you were just driving recklessly but didn't commit an illegal offense (i.e. texting or drink driving), you will still have to claim against your own policy since you are at-fault and will suffer additional financial losses from an NCD drop and excess payments on repair claims.
Hit & Run (Including Parked Cars)
Hit and runs, especially concerning parked cars, are a nuisance because it makes it that much harder to file a claim—especially if you have no proof of the accident. Between 2018 and 2017, there have been 50 hit and run cases reported on Stomp.
As a point of reference, there were 136 counts of hit and run cases in 2013 according to the Singapore Police Force. Still, parked cars that are damaged should be reported to police and your insurer right away. With these accidents, you should be covered and can file a claim.
If you can, you should drive your car to the nearest authorised dealer and submit a claim form with their help. Additionally, if you have a dashcam or in-car camera, you can use it as additional evidence of the incident and see if you can somehow identify the driver.
If You Are the Victim of an Accident
If you are the victim of a car accident, you should file a damage or medical claim against your insurance policy before filing a third party claim. This is recommended because the offender who caused the accident may not necessarily own up to his mistakes. If that happens, you may not receive the full compensation for your claim and will have to pay out of pocket.
Additionally, filing against your insurer as soon as possible gets your repairs done and medical bills taken care of more quickly. Once you are found to be not at fault, your insurer will proceed to collect from the offender's insurer. They will also not penalise your NCD and some insurers will even waive your excess and compensate you in full.
When submitting your claim, you should make sure you submit a police report and proof that you weren't at fault (such as witness accounts and photos) along with evidence of damage.
If you want a private settlement, you should exchange information with the third-party, contact your insurer and see if there is a private settlement form you can fill out and submit. It is also advised that you contact your lawyer. Private settlements are usually done when there are only minor or no damages.
Ways to Prevent Accidents
The unpredictability of car accidents is really what makes them so difficult to avoid. However, there are steps you can take to make sure that at least you will not be the cause of one. First, you should pay attention to the road at all times. It's tempting to talk on the phone and it's easy to get distracted, but road conditions are often unpredictable and you should always stay focused to avoid changes to road conditions. Additionally, dashboard cams are an easy and convenient way to have evidence of any accident you're involved in.
If you find yourself feeling unconfident when driving, the Singapore Police Force recommends taking refresher driving lessons, such as the Safe Driving Course, which costs S$121.45. Lastly, don't drink and drive or text and drive (the latter is actually worse than the former). Doing either of those things will never end up in your favor and you may end up becoming a statistic.
This was first published at Value Penguin's website, "4 Most Common Car Accidents: Are They Covered by Your Car Insurance?".