If you recently purchased a vehicle or you’re looking for more value from your current insurance provider, finding a motor insurance policy will be next on your list to prepare your car for the road.
Besides insurance being a legal requirement by the government of Barbados in order to be able to drive, in the event of an accident, your motor insurance policy will cover any damage or injury caused by you or someone else driving your vehicle.
This guide was prepared to provide you with a better understanding of what motor insurance is, what you must know when buying a motor insurance policy, and how to maintain your policy in good standing even when making a claim.
Choosing an insurance provider
Choosing an insurance provider
There are many licensed insurance companies in Barbados. While shopping around and comparing quotes is the easiest way to get a good deal on your motor insurance, with so many insurance companies and such a wide range of policies to choose from, this process can take a long time to complete. However, instead of going directly to each insurance provider, you can save both time and money by choosing to go through an insurance broker.
An insurance broker can be viewed as a “middleman”. This is a licensed and registered professional who acts as an intermediary between you and the insurance company. Brokers not only have a wide knowledge of what is available in the market but can also negotiate terms on your behalf. This will save you considerable time in having to seek quotations from different insurance providers directly.
Digital Insurance Providers
Today almost any product or service can be found online, and buying insurance is no different. The concept of a digital insurance provider is relatively new in Barbados and local brokers and insurance companies have struggled to adapt to the digital space.
Enter Almi, an all-digital insurance platform that seeks to uncomplicate insurance. Plans are easy to understand, the application is way simpler than with traditional companies and the claims process is quick and transparent.
|Traditional Broker||Traditional Insurance Company||Almi|
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2. Finding the right motor coverage
The first step in selecting a motor policy is to decide on the level of coverage that you will need. There are three main types of coverage for motor vehicles:
Third-party only car insurance offers cover for other people, their vehicles, and their property. It is the least comprehensive type of cover available, and it is the minimum legal requirement you must meet to drive on local roads. It is also usually the most expensive of the three.
Third-party, fire and theft
Third-party, fire and theft policies offers protection for your own vehicle only if it is stolen or damaged by fire, as well as any damage or injuries to third parties.
A fully comprehensive car insurance policy will cover you for damage, repairs, medical expenses, fire damage and theft, as well as damage done to someone else, their car or their property.
Comprehensive lite is a special coverage that provides great value. It’s lower in cost than a comprehensive policy and has almost the same coverage except for situations where you are driving a rented vehicle or a loaned vehicle.
|Third-party||Third party, fire and theft||Comprehensive|
|Injury, death or disability to a 3rd party|
|Damage to 3rd party property|
|Theft of your vehicle|
|Accidental fire to your vehicle|
|Damage to your vehicle from an accident||
(Minus excess or deductible)
|Medical expenses incurred by you while in a car accident||
(Minus excess or deductible)
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3. Getting a motor insurance quote
Now that we have covered the importance of motor insurance, the types of cover, and how your premium is determined, the next step will be to get a motor insurance quotation.
Whether you have chosen to act through a broker or directly with the insurer, you should still consider a few factors when reviewing insurance quotes.
Know your priorities
What do you want most out of your insurance company? Are you solely looking for the least expensive cover? What about customer service and reputation? The cheapest option might appear to be the most attractive but consider how this may affect your actual coverage. For instance, opting for a third-party only coverage on a vehicle that is driven frequently may put you at significant loss in the event of a bad accident since you would be required to cover all repairs to your own vehicle.
Review the insurance provider’s reputation
A deeper look into an insurance company’s reputation and financial standing will ensure that you go with a registered and reliable institution. Ideally, you will want a company that offers great coverage at an affordable price from excellent customer serving agents!
Get a few quotes
Another tip is to ensure you consider multiple quotes. This is much easier when consulting with a broker as it is their job to make light work of this process. Always consider at least three quotes and look for additional benefits such as discounts and rewards programs. Remember, comparing car insurance quotes is never just about what appears to be the cheapest.
Did you know? Most insurance providers in Barbados provide extremely low quotes upfront but when it comes time to pay for your policy, rates magically increase! This is very frustrating. At Almi, we do things better. When you request a quote with us, the price you see is exactly the price you you pay.
|Traditional Brokers||Traditional Insurance Company||Digital Insurance Provider|
|Sentry Insurance Brokers||Guardian General||Almi|
|Capita Insurance Brokers||Massy United Insurance|
|Gallagher Insurance Brokers||Trident Insurance|
|Co-operators General Insurance|
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What do I need to get a quote?
For any insurance provider to be able to give you a quote you should have some basic information available:
- Car manufacturer and model and year
- Approximate car value
- Vehicle use (personal or business)
- Number of drivers
- Past motor insurance claims
- Your age and gender
- Your type of work
- Driving history
- Personal details: name, phone number, email address, etc.
4. Understanding your motor insurance quote
Now that you have received a few quotes, let’s look at them closely. The amount you were quoted is called a motor insurance premium, it’s the amount of money you pay per year to own an insurance policy that can protect you and your vehicle.
What influences my premium rates?
Before an insurance provider can sell you a motor insurance policy, it will want to weigh all the risks involved. To offer you an accurate quotation, they will have to ask a lot of detailed questions that will influence your final premium.
Several factors are considered and these factors are applied to measure the level of risk associated with covering you as a driver and your vehicle. Some of the questions you can be asked include:
- The type of coverage you want
- The amount of excess (or deductible).
- Your experience as a driver
- The type of vehicle that you drive
- Your age and gender
- Your occupation
- Past accidents or claims
The following table gives you detailed information on why these questions are asked.
Remember: if you fail to provide accurate information a subsequent claim may be denied.
|Type of coverage||A comprehensive cover cost Insurers more than third-party in case of a claim and will therefore increase your premium amount.|
|Amount of excess (or deductible)||Your premium will increase if you opt for a low excess and vice versa. *Learn more about excess below.|
|Driving experience||Your driving history and experience let the insurer know about prior driving convictions, and your current driver’s license status.|
|Type of vehicle||The model/make of your vehicle as well as its age determine the risk to insurers. The older the vehicle, the less it can cost but also the more at risk it will be for breaking down and causing an accident.|
|Age and gender||Typically, male, younger, inexperienced drivers receive higher insurance premiums, as this group is more likely to be involved in accidents.|
|Occupation||Your occupation can influence your risk. For example, if you work night shifts or if you do a lot of commutes you will be a more risky customer.|
|Past accidents or claims||Studies show that if a person has had past accidents or claims they are more likely to have accidents in the future|
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Other things to consider
Now that you understand the premium cost better, let’s look at other important considerations:
The premium amount can be paid in installments (monthly, bi-monthly or in two payments) depending on your provider. Make sure you are able to pay in the most flexible way.
Also enquire about interest fees that could be charged if you decide to finance your premium. Make sure these are clear so that there are no surprises later on.
Bajans often complain about insurance providers not paying claims or giving people a hard time before a claim is settled. Do your research on social media, look at Google Maps reviews and ask your friends.
Excess (or deductible)
An excess is the amount you pay out of pocket towards any claim you make on your car insurance policy. For example, if you have a claim worth $10,000 and you have a $2,000 excess, you will only receive $8,000 from your insurer if your claim is approved.
Most motor insurance policies have two types of excess: A compulsory excess, which they set and cannot be modified, and a voluntary excess, which you can set yourself with the aim of reducing your premium amount. Remember to set your voluntary excess carefully. While you can get a lower premium premium if you opt for a lower excess, in turn, you will have to pay more ot-of-pocket in case of an accident. Where damage to your vehicle has been minor, a high excess can mean it is not worth claiming at all, for example, a broken windshield or a small dent.
5. Obtaining your insurance policy
So far it’s been easy sailing. You have reviewed your motor insurance quotes and decided on which provider you want to do business with.
The next step is to make a payment and to submit your documents to receive your official motor policy.
These are some of the documents that may be asked by your new insurance company. Some of these documents can take some time to produce so think about getting them early on. They can include the following:
- Barbados photo identification
- Valid Barbados driver’s license
- Proof of vehicle ownership (bill of sale)
- Vehicle valuation
- Road worthy certificate (required from any approved garage on the list proved by the Insurer and usually only required if vehicle is 8 years or older).
- Proof of address (utility bill or bank statement)
- “No claims letter” if you have not made claims in the past
No claims letter
When switching to a new insurance provider, you might be asked to produce a “no claims letter”. This letter certifies that you have not made any motor insurance claims in the past or lists the types of claims made, the amounts settled and the dates. Your new insurance provider will use this information to give you an additional discount when a clean record with no claims is provided.
After your documents have been processed and your payment has been confirmed, you have yourself a brand new insurance policy. Just a few steps remain before you are good to ride the roads of Barbados.
Your insurance company will first provide you with a Cover Note. This is a document that will function as a temporary insurance certificate proving that you have motor insurance coverage. This document can be either provided by email or sent over regular mail. Be sure to carry a printed copy inside your vehicle at all times. The insurance Cover Note is valid for a period of 30 days or until you receive your insurance certificate.
In Barbados, most Insurance companies will have your official certificate of insurance mailed to you through post within 30 days. Make sure to carefully read this document to confirm what your coverage is and to be aware of exceptions. Make sure that this document is always kept securely in the glove compartment of your vehicle.
6. Maintaining your motor insurance in good standing
Maintaining your motor insurance policy is very important to make sure your coverage is always valid. Make sure to follow the following guidelines:
- Always pay on time – Tardiness in payments can be a valid cause to refuse coverage in the event of an accident.
- Update any changes – Inform your insurer of any changes in your situation such as: address change, change of profession, additional drivers, etc. Any information found to be incorrect in the event of a claim may result in a refusal of cover.
- Drive carefully – Make sure to always obey traffic signs and be vigilant of road conditions. Park your car in a safe and protected place as much as possible.
- Maintain your vehicle – Do regular maintenance on your vehicle to make sure it is in good mechanical shape. Pay special attention to vehicle parts that may cause an accident such as: worn tires, soft brakes, damaged lights, faulty wipers, cracked windshield or a loose hand brake. Mechanical negligence could lead to a traffic penalty and in case of an accident, it can lead to a refusal of insurance coverage. Visit our Barbados Garage Directory for a full list of garages in the island that can be able to revise your vehicle.
- Inform your insurer of any incident – It is important that you inform your insurer of all incidents of damage or loss, however small, and even if you do not make a claim for them. There have been cases where insurance companies have refused to meet claims because the driver failed to disclose previous incidents.
7. Making a motor insurance claim
Car accidents happen, even to the most careful drivers. Here we provide you with some tips on the best way to manage an accident and make a claim. The following steps should get you through an accident in most situations:
- Accidents are very stressful situations. Remain calm as much as possible.
- Verify that you and your vehicle’s passengers are safe. In case of injury call the Barbados emergency services at 211 immediately.
- Turn off your vehicle and assess the situation from inside. Check that there is no incoming traffic and that it is safe to step outside.
- Gather your documents including driver’s license, insurance certificate and vehicle ownership.
- Verify that other parties involved in the accident are safe and call 211 if needed.
- Do a quick inspection of the damage. Take note of your location and call the Barbados police at 511.
- Call your insurance roadside assistance at the number located in your insurance certificate.
- While you are waiting, take some photographs of the situation. Make sure to include both vehicles and take photos from different angles.
- Take the name and address of the other driver, and details of their insurance company.
- Ask any witnesses to provide their contact details.
- When the police and the roadside services arrive, explain the situation in detail but do not admit guilt at this point.
- Notify your insurance provider. They usually have dedicated line for claims that can be found on your insurance document. Explain the situation and send any supporting information and photos to their claims email.
After all necessary information has been received by your insurer, they will work to settle your claim in the shortest time frame. You should wait for the go-ahead from your insurance company before having your vehicle repaired. Please read our complete guide for motor insurance claims in Barbados with all the detailed information.
8. Renewing your motor insurance
Before you renew your motor policy without giving it much thought, make sure to verify your renewal terms and the amount you will pay (your premium). Other insurance providers might be able to offer a more competitive price so make sure to shop around.
Be sure to take note of the renewal dates and acquire your new policy before expiry or you will loose coverage.
When your insurer provides you with the renewal premium amount, you might find that the amount might be different (there will likely be an increase). Several factors can influence a price increase such as:
- Traffic convictions including speeding tickets
- Any claims that were made the previous year
- The rate of inflation
- The overall insurance market. If there were record claims in the industry, there might be increases for policies across the board.
It is always advisable to look in the market for new insurance providers to compare rates, service level and ease of use.
No claims discount
Once you have had motor insurance for a year or more without making a claim, you should be eligible for a ‘no claims discount’ or no claims bonus. This is usually a discount awarded to clients when no claims are made. Discount amounts can start at 10% on your premium in the second year and progressively rise over the years.
If you make a claim, your no claims discount might be reduced or disallowed so it may be cheaper to pay for minor damages yourself, rather than risk losing your bonus or discount.
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