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Streamlining mandatory third party cover

Even as I commend Nitin Gadkari for his initiative to streamline the issue of driving licences, I suggest his looking into a related area: the gross violation and indifference of owners of motor vehicles to take the mandatory insurance policies for third party cover. The violation extends to over 70 per cent in the case of two-wheelers and 50 per cent for cars and commercial vehicles.

This arises from two factors: one, the task of detecting such violations is with the state government through their RTOs and police departments. These have not been able to cope with the enormous increase in work, attending to the various aspects of administering and regulating road transport. Secondly, they have not had their records automated. Earlier, it was possible to attend to this at the time of payment of annual road taxes. But when the state governments changed this to collect road taxes on life time basis of ten years, enforcing of third party cover could not be made annually.

Insurance companies do have such records at least in regard to new vehicles sold over the last decade or so when the IT sector has evolved. But these have also been disparate companies not working in any coordinated manner. IRDA has been focusing on data collection in recent years.

The problem, however, relates to the coordination between the Centre and the states. Working in unison will help keep track of non-renewal of third party insurance policies.

A recent effort is to increase the duration of third party insurance to three years for two-wheelers. Doing this for cars and commercial vehicles is resisted on grounds of the higher sums involved. But if a substantially large volume of vehicles could be brought under mandatory third party insurance, there is scope for reducing the premium substantially. Such a system will also help insurance companies to reduce the humongous losses they have been suffering on motor vehicle insurance. For years, general insurance companies have been bleeding on account of the losses suffered on motor vehicle portfolio, despite the regular increase in tariff.

A solution can be found in permitting large private companies involved in the automobile sector to join hands with the government. In this, insurance companies and IT companies could be involved. The PPP mode can help attend to this issue of considerable importance in quick time. Nitin Gadkari, who has breathed fresh air in regard to the issue of driving licences and who has suggested the closing down of the inefficient RTOs, should focus on this area as well.

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