55% cars on Saudi roads not insured: Najm CEO

GaStat: Over half a million accidents and 9,000 road deaths last year


Saudi Gazette report

JEDDAH —About 55 percent of vehicles on the Kingdom’s roads are not insured against accidents, according to a senior executive in the car insurance industry.

Hani Dahhan, chief executive officer of the insurance service company Najm, said Saudi Arabia already lagged behind in road safety with its high number traffic accidents and road fatalities. He said more initiatives were needed to reduce this epidemic, which is wasting human and material resources.

The Kingdom’s roads witness an average of 1,461 traffic accidents every day, resulting in 25 deaths and 104 injuries, according to the General Authority for Statistics (GaStat).

It said most of the victims of road accidents were young people between 15 and 29 years.

According to GaStat, the total number of traffic accidents in the Kingdom in 2016 (1437AH) was 533,380, which resulted in 38,120 injuries and 9,031 deaths.

The General Directorate of Traffic said the country lost about 100,000 people to road accidents over the past 20 years.

These alarming statistics ranks Saudi Arabia in the second place in the Arab world and 23rd in the world in terms of the rate of fatal traffic accidents. According to the World Health Organization rankings, the Kingdom comes 157 out of 180 countries in the world in terms of road safety.

Traffic accidents cost Saudi Arabia between SR20 billion and SR87 billion annually. According to global estimates, road accidents cost governments about 3 percent of the GDP as indicated at an International Conference on Traffic Safety, Dahhan told Al-Riyadh newspaper.

He said increased enforcement of mandatory vehicle insurance is necessary to expand protection and guarantee the rights of those affected by accidents, especially that women would start driving vehicles in the Kingdom soon.

“About 55 percent of vehicles in the Kingdom are not insured, which means there are more than 6 million cars running on Saudi roads without real guarantees for the rights of the victims if any of these vehicles get involved in traffic accidents,” Al-Riyadh quoted Dahhan as saying.

Dr. Abdullah Al-Maghlouth, member of the Saudi Economic Association, said the Traffic Department announced recently strategies to implement initiatives to reduce the number of road accident deaths by 25 percent by 2020.

Saudi society remains in desperate need for effective programs and regulations to reduce this negative phenomenon, which may exacerbate by an increase in the number of vehicles licensed in the Kingdom to an estimated 16 million by then, said Al-Maghlouth.

He pointed out that 93 percent of traffic accidents occur in low and middle income countries. However, the indicators of accidents in the Middle East are reversing the global trend, where the majority of accidents occur in the richest countries.

“Therefore, it is necessary to join forces to put an end to this phenomenon,” said Al-Maghlouth.

Mansoor Abuethnain, deputy chief executive of Tawuniya for Car Insurance, said insurance companies in the Kingdom paid about SR40 billion in compensation to victims of accidents in the last 10 years (2007-2016).

He said the period saw an increase in the number of accidents and victims as well as an increase in prices of cars and spare parts.

Abuethnain said the vehicle insurance market in the Kingdom witnessed within a short period of time huge strides in insurance systems, operation mechanisms and information dissemination with the support of electronic communication means, which contributed to facilitating procedures of dealing with traffic accidents and determining the proportion of responsibility.

He drew attention to increased interaction with insurance companies following the announcement of incentives by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) with regard to pricing of insurance policies, especially discounts to loyal customers and motorists without accident records.