What Every First-time Vehicle Owner Needs to Know About Insurance

January 19, 2024 by jngijamaica

The beginning of a new year often inspires many individuals to embark on the pursuit of their resolutions which often pertains to personal and professional development, health and wellness, positive change, and the fulfillment of long-held dreams.

Among the aspirations for some persons this year is the goal to own a motor vehicle. For those purchasing their first vehicle, it is a notable achievement which provides a great sense of independence.

A resident of Spanish Town, St Catherine, who wished to remain anonymous, related that although she often gets a ride from her brothers and coworkers to her workplace in Kingston, she is sometimes inconvenienced when they are not available. She plans to purchase her first vehicle this year.

“It is a form of independence. You don’t have to wait on persons to carry you around.  When it rains and you do not have a ride, you have to take the bus,” she said adding that having her own vehicle will make it much easier when she goes to the market weekly.

With the privilege of vehicle ownership comes a crucial responsibility – the imperative task of insuring it.

Andrea Gordon Martin, Assistant General Manager-Operations, JN General Insurance,

Andrea Gordon Martin, Assistant General Manager-Operations, JN General Insurance, pointed out that insurance is an important aspect of vehicle ownership.

“This responsibility is not merely a legal obligation, but it also serves as a financial safety net in the event of unforeseen events such as a crash, theft, or damage or loss due to natural disasters,” explained Mrs Gordon Martin.  “In addition to protecting one’s own interest, insurance also secures the well-being and safety of others on the road.”

According to the insurer, the amount that a motorist pays for insurance is dependent on several factors.

“A major determinant of the cost of an insurance premium has to do with the insured’s age.,driving history and the value of the motor vehicle.  The premium is usually higher for inexperienced and young drivers especially those under 25 years, because they are mor likely to be involved in an accident, based on statistics.

“The choice of vehicle also makes a big difference in determining the insurance premium.  This includes the model, make and year of a vehicle.  High valued vehicles, sports cars and high performance vehicles,  for example, usually carry a higher premium,” she pointed out.

Mrs Gordon Martin outlines the following insurance tips for first-time owners of motor vehicles:

  1. Understand the Types of Coverage: The two main types of coverage are third party and comprehensive coverage. Comprehensive insurance protects your own vehicle against accidental damage; persons with this kind of insurance also get coverage for their legal liability for property damage, injury or death to third parties.  Third party insurance, on the other hand, provides coverage for legal liability for property damage, injury or death to third parties, however, the insureds is responsible for the damage to their own vehicles.
  2. Limits of Liability: All insurance policies carry a limit on the coverage provided for injury, death, or damage to third party property. Make sure that you ask about these limits when you are shopping around and ensure that you compare these limits among companies; different companies offer different limits. A lower premium could mean a lower limit of liability so cheaper is not necessarily better. 
  3. Consider Your Budget: Assess your budget and choose coverage that adequately safeguards you against potential risks. While it might be tempting to opt for the minimum coverage to save on premiums, it is essential to strike a balance between cost and protection.
  4. Explore Discounts: Insurance companies offer various discounts e.g.; you can get discounts through your affiliation with certain institutions. Also, having a tracking device on the vehicle, will help to reduce the premium because it minimizes the chance of the vehicle getting stolen and facilitates quick recovery if it does get stolen.

Similarly, a dash cam can reduce insurance premium as it is useful in providing evidence in case of a collision. It can also help to detect vandalism and theft thus providing additional security of the vehicle.

Also, motorists with multiple insurance needs, such as home and or contents insurance, should consider bundling them with their auto insurance. Insurance companies often provide discounts for customers who purchase multiple policies from them.

  1. Maintain a Good Driving Record: Your driving history is a key factor in determining insurance premiums. Safe driving not only reduces the likelihood of crashes but also qualifies motorists for lower insurance rates. Obey traffic laws, avoid accidents, and attend defensive driving courses to improve your driving skills.

“Armed with insurance knowledge, individuals are better equipped to ensure a secure and fulfilling journey into motor vehicle ownership,” said Mrs Gordon Martin.