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
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
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!
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 automania@ chiangmai-mail.com