Following a week of hailstorms in Chukha during the latter part of March, reports Bhutan’s daily news site Kuensel Online, 35 vehicle owners are claiming motor insurance from the local office of royal insurance corporation (RICBL) in Phuentsholing.

“RICBL officials said most of the affected vehicles were from Gedu, Pasakha and Kharbandi,” the paper reports. “The windshields of most of the cars were damaged, while others reported dents on the vehicle body because of the strong hail. A few vehicles were damaged on their way in India at places like Birpara.

“We’re expecting some more to come,” said the claims manager of the general insurance department, Bhanu Bhakta Rai. “We expect 46 to 50 motor claims in Phuentsholing and Thimphu, as some are yet to come forward,” he said, adding that, of the 35 vehicles, about 95 percent were Indian made.

Bhutan insurance ltd, which has 568 vehicles insured under its regional office in Phuentsholing, has not received any claims so far.

The average claim of each vehicle is estimated to be about Nu 50,000. “We’re yet to confirm the exact amount that we’ll be paying the vehicle owners,” said the claims manager.

The first quarter of 2010, from January to March, saw 1,864 vehicles under active motor insurance policy. While last year, during the same period, there were 1,967 vehicles.

Officials said that, comparatively, a few years ago, people preferred third party motor insurance, owing to the less premium, but now many people opted for comprehensive insurance, as they were more aware of the benefits.

Two years back a hailstorm, more severe than this year’s, hit Chukha causing extensive damage to vehicles in Kharbandi and Phuentsholing town areas, according to residents.

Motor insurance, according to officials, is not a lucrative sector, owing to the high claims, with the increasing number of accidents every year. “At the same time, we’re trying to give various discounts every year and the premium decreases every year if no claims have been made,” said the claims manager.

Claims are registered either in Thimphu or Phuentsholing, depending on the convenience of clients. At present, registration and processing of motor claims are carried out only in Thimphu and Phuentsholing.

“We’re planning to decentralise claims of motor insurance up to a certain extent in places like Gelephu, Samdrupjongkhar and Mongar,” said the claims manager.

On an average RICBL receives about three motor insurance claims a day, said officials.”


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