How much do you know about car insurance?

If you are like me, you bought an insurance policy when you bought the latest car, and have forgotten all about it since then, other than at renewal, whereupon you want a reduction because you haven’t hit anything in the past 12 months. After all, insurance is the thing you don’t want to have to use, so we mentally deny it or forget it for the next 11 months.

To find out a little more about car insurance I asked Jack Levy, an insurance consultant, to explain a little more about the subject. According to Jack, basically there are four types of motor vehicle insurance cover, with the compulsory government insurance (the square sticker on your windscreen) called a ‘porabor’, being the bottom of the line. Words like, “Not worth the paper it’s printed on,” were being bandied around.

Up from there is Class 3 insurance, and this is liability only. In other words, it covers the other guy, but not you. The premiums are cheap, but the policy does nothing for you, other than make it such that you can ask someone’s forgiveness and pay for the damage you have done.

Next rung up is Class 2. This is what most of us know as the western style of 3rd Party, Fire and Theft insurance. It covers the cars, shop windows and telephone poles you hit and will cover you if the vehicle bursts into flames, or crosses the border into Cambodia with a felon at the wheel. A bit more expensive than Class 3, for the extra risk that the insurance company is taking on board.

So to the top of the heap, Class 1. This is equivalent to what most of us know as Fully Comprehensive, but beware, for some are more ‘fully’ than others! According to my mate Jack, variations can be quite marked. There is a ceiling on the amount covered for bodily injury or death. Some companies are up to 5 million baht, others may cap the payment at 1 million baht, while others may set the cap much lower.

Like wise with the proviso for Bail Bond. Do you know how much you are covered for? If your policy only allows for 100,000 baht and the friendly policeman sets the figure at 200,000 baht, you either have to cough up the difference, or go to jail.

Factors that can affect the premium cost also include the type of vehicle you are driving. If it is bread and butter Japanese, with abundant availability of spare parts, your insurance will generally be less than the equivalent European vehicle, and if you have bought an ‘orphan’ like a Wartburg or a ZIL, then you probably won’t get insurance cover at all.

Other factors cover the initial purchase price of your vehicle (a Porsche will cost more than an Isuzu pick-up), the capacity (a 5 litre engine will cost more than a 1.5 litre) and if your vehicle is one that gets nicked a lot, you may find it becomes almost uninsurable! Time to stand at the Cambodian border again and see what the felons are driving this week!

Another trap for the unwary. Your policy will say that you have to be the holder of a valid driving licence. The key word here is ‘valid’. If you are driving on a Thai licence, or on a current International, then you are fine. However, Thai law does not recognise a UK, European or American licence as ‘valid’ and you may be liable for a fine of up to 200 baht in the case of an accident involving you. That’s the cheapest part! If your insurance company also does not accept your driving licence, then you have just become liable for the lot! Answer? Check and ensure that your insurance company will accept your driving licence, before you put the key in the ignition.

That gets us to an interesting point. How does a young person learn to drive a car and still be covered, without having a valid licence? I believe that registered driving schools have some sort of blanket policy, but ... this is Thailand. There is a decided “hole” here that I would be plugging before letting your children learn to drive in the family car!

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I mentioned a very famous racing driver who used to wave when passing the grandstands, saying, “You may not know anybody there, but that’s all right. Somebody will think you’re waving at him and he’ll start waving back and if you can get a good percentage of the crowd waving at you it’s going to impress the organizers, so when you come back next year, they’ll pay you more money to appear.” And I asked who was it? It was one of the fore-runners of professional race car drivers - Sir Stirling Moss.

So to this week. Wings are now commonplace in race cars of all categories, and the company that started the craze with wings, as we know them today, was American. This company had really begun developing and refining an idea that had been used over a decade previously, but not used as an aerodynamic aid for cornering. What I want to know is what was the item that was the forerunner of the wings, and what was it used for - and on what cars?

For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected]

Good luck!

What does the world think of car salesmen?

The general opinion about salesmen who are involved in the noble art of flogging cars, is not very high. This appears to be a universal attitude, but it is only recently that the Gallup Poll people in the USA carried out a survey to see which professions were considered to be the most trustworthy. The list is interesting, but I am sure would not reflect the views of Thailand. Mind you, it did not surprise me that lawyers were down in position 15, but I did raise my eyebrows when I read that medical doctors at 7th slot only just shaded funeral directors!

Bernie Ecclestone

Here’s the list from Gallup.

1 Nurses

2 Military officers

3 High school teachers

4 Clergy

5 Police officers

6 Druggists, pharmacists

7 Medical doctors

8 Funeral directors

9 Accountants

10 Journalists, reporters

11 Bankers

12 Congressmen

13 Building contractors

14 Business executives

15 Lawyers

16 Labor union leaders

17 Real estate agents

18 Stockbrokers

19 Advertising practitioners

20 Car salespeople

21 Telemarketers

So there you go - to be universally popular become a telemarketer! Now then, does anyone want to buy a car from this man?

Police order lekky bikes to reduce pollution

Eco-Brand, the electronic bicycle manufacturers, have just managed to get some of their new scooters into the Bangkok Police force, with my old mate, Paul Markham the GM, reporting good interest from Bangkok’s force.

Police Storm

Following a request from General San, the police chief, an exhibition of the Eco-electronic bikes, as well as future prototype models, was given for the police administration. This was for the various police chiefs and generals to look at as well as individual police staff for personal use.

General San has ordered 3 Storm Police Spec E Bikes and the Tourist Police Chief General Banyan is looking at the possibility of the lekky bikes for various applications nationwide as are the Immigration Bureau.

Paul reports that he is very hopeful of great success in helping the Thai environment and reducing pollution problems as well as cutting down running/fuel costs for the department.

The local manufacturer has also come to the attention of movie star Steven Segal who has ordered three Terrain off-road Army Style scooters, one for his property in Thailand and two for his massive ranch in the US. He is also having an electric All Terrain Vehicle designed for his use.

Anyone want a Studebaker GT Hawk? Only 300,000 baht

Don’t get too excited, I read it in a mag sent to me by one of the Autotrivia Quiz regulars, MacAlan Thompson. Unfortunately, it is an American auto-trader magazine, but the prices would make you weep. The Studebaker GT Hawk is dead-set collectible, with only 4,634 produced. $9,950 or offer!

Or what about a pair of 1965 Ford Thunderbirds? Yes, a pair of them for $1,400! And if you’re the ultimate Ford man, then you can get yourself a nice 1921 T model for only $10,000.

For the hot rod fans there’s a London taxi with a 350 c.i. Chev at the sharp end and a Ford 8" rear, at $12,500, and the final item that caught my eye was a folding, motorized gas scooter with F&R disc brakes, headlight, and 12" tyres. All this could be yours for 5 cents under $700.

Unfortunately there is not the number of old cars in this country to make it worth while trying to have a used car magazine, and there is not the depth of makes and models, but it was certainly nice to flick through the mag and dream.

Thanks Mac!