Friday, September 2, 2011

Dispute resolution for motor accident claims of up to $3,000. Accident claims of up to $3k? Go to resolution centre

2 September 2011
Business Times Singapore
(c) 2011 Singapore Press Holdings Limited

TO ADDRESS the issue of escalating claims, non-injury motor accident claims of $3,000 or less now
have to be heard first by the Financial Industry Disputes Resolution Centre (FIDReC) before court
proceedings can start.

This has been raised from the $1,000 limit previously.

The move is in line with recommendations put forward by the Motor Insurance Taskforce last year.

According to a release issued yesterday by the Consumers Association of Singapore, the industry
average amount for third party property damage claims is about $4,000. As such, the move to bump up
the limit to $3,000 is expected to reduce the number of disputes brought to court. FIDReC has also
beefed up its resources so that it will be able to handle the likely increase in the number of cases.

'GIA welcomes the increased FIDReC-NIMA limit which will further enhance the promotion of amicable
and faster settlement of disputes through the mediation process,' said Derek Teo, president of the
General Insurance Association of Singapore.

Accident claims of up to $3k? Go to resolution centre

Christopher Tan, Senior Correspondent
2 September 2011
Straits Times
(c) 2011 Singapore Press Holdings Limited

Limit for non-injury cases raised from $1,000
MOTORISTS who want to make non-injury accident claims of up to $3,000 will now have to go before
the Financial Industry Disputes Resolution Centre (Fidrec) before they can file them in court.

The $3,000 limit is three times the previous cap of $1,000.

The Consumers Association of Singapore, a member of the Motor Insurance Taskforce which lobbied
for the limit to be raised, said the new ceiling is more reflective of the average claim of $4,000.

The taskforce, which views Fidrec as yet another way to tackle spiralling costs, hopes the new limit will
pave the way for more claims to be settled quickly and cheaply - without the appointment of lawyers.

Since its formation in March 2008, Fidrec has heard 218 motor accident cases and helped resolve 213
of them - even if the number is a fraction of the approximately 1,200 non-injury accident claims that go to
court each year.

The taskforce reckons the $3,000 limit will allow Fidrec to handle more cases.

But lawyers point out that claimants may simply jack up their claims to exceed the new limit to avoid the

Fidrec process - one which requires claimants to turn up personally to file and present their cases.

General Insurance Association (GIA) president Derek Teo, a Fidrec proponent, said: 'There'll be people
who will bump up their claims to circumvent this... but they will have to produce substantive evidence in
court to show that their claims are justified.'

He added that the 'main intent is for all parties to reach an amicable settlement by themselves'.

However, should they need the help of a third party to resolve a case, there is Fidrec.

But motorists can still file their claims in court if they are not happy with Fidrec's decision, which is
handed down by retired judges.

The Motor Insurance Taskforce, whose members include the GIA, the Automobile Association of
Singapore, the Land Transport Authority, the Traffic Police and the Monetary Authority of Singapore,
had actually recommended the Fidrec cap be set at $10,000.

Observers said, however, this would be detrimental to the income of many lawyers.

A lawyer who specialises in accident claims said yesterday his business had already dipped since
Fidrec was formed. But he could not substantiate his claim, nor did he want to be named.

The taskforce has introduced several measures in recent years to tackle rising costs. These include
requiring motorists to file an accident report with their insurers - no matter how minor the accident - within 24 hours, and submit on-site photos of the vehicles involved.

Also, motorists who file insurance claims against another party after an accident have to contact the
other driver's insurer before getting their vehicle repaired. The other driver's insurer will have 48 hours to
inspect the damaged vehicle. If it fails to do so, it automatically waives its right to contest the claim.

The measures have met some success.

Last year, motor claims amounted to $767 million. If the $11.6 million attributed to flood damage was excluded, the sum would have been close to the $742 million posted three years ago - even though there
are now more vehicles on the road.


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