Matatu insurers have raised the threshold for accident compensation to exclude commuters who die or get injured while traveling in vehicles that are in breach of the law.
The insurers said they will no longer entertain claims from travelers who get injured or die aboard unlicensed or unroadworthy vehicles — a move that could leave thousands of commuters and accident victims’ next of kin in a quandary.
Though most insurers have in the past had to compensate all victims of accidents, including those injured in overloaded vehicles, industry players now say only those hurt in fully compliant buses will be paid.
The change of rules has been revealed in a legal battle involving victims of last year’s fatal accident at Ntulele on Mai Mahiu-Narok road in which 30 people were killed and 40 others injured.
Invesco Assurance has moved to court seeking to discharge itself from the burden of compensating victims of the accident involving a bus it had insured.
The insurance firm says in court papers that it will not compensate the victims of the accident because the operator of City to City Services Limited did not meet the set guidelines and terms of the contract.
“The plaintiff (Invesco) established that the defendant (bus owner) was in blatant breach of terms and conditions of the insurance policy,” the insurer says in documents filed in court.
The insurer maintains that the ill-fated bus was at the time of the accident being driven by an unauthorised driver and did not have a valid Transport Licensing Board (TLB) document.
City to City bus also operated on the Kisii-Migori route without the permission to do so, the insurer says. It had instead been licensed to operate on the Nairobi- Garissa route.
Invesco further argues that the fact that the director of the ill-fated bus was charged with a traffic offence for permitting an unroadworthy motor vehicle to be driven on the road contrary to section 55(1) of the Traffic Act is enough reason not to pay any claims arising from the accident.
“The plaintiff’s prayer is for a declaratory order allowing him to avoid settlement of any claims by injured persons and or fatal accident claims arising out of the accident,” the insurer says in court documents.
The insurer is seeking an order compelling the owner of the bus to settle all claims arising out of the Narok accident.
Matatu Welfare Association (MWA) chairperson Dickson Mbugua put the responsibility of ensuring that public service vehicles are fully compliant with the government.
He said it is incumbent upon the government to inform passengers that a vehicle is not compliant with the regulations so that they can avoid it.
Source: BUSINESS DAILY