Motorists with the Brown Card certificate travelling from one country to another within the ECOWAS sub-region are protected in case of any road accident in the visiting country.
This is according to Saihou Samba, secretary general of the National Bureau of Ecowas Brown Card Insurance Scheme in Banjul.
The Brown Card Insurance Scheme, introduced in 1982, is a motor insurance civil liability scheme covering motorist who travel from one country to another within the ECOWAS sub-region. The card covers third party liability in case of accidents causing damages, injuries, or death in the visiting country.
“The holder of the card is protected in case of accident in any Ecowas member state and his insurance company would pay all genuine claims arising from third party liabilities,” Mr Samba said on Wednesday at the opening of a two-day training for motor underwriters and claims managers.
The in-house training held at the National Bureau in Banjul was organised to further augment the participants’ understanding of the insurance scheme so that they can also teach those they work within their respective offices.
The secretary general of the bureau said under the Brown Card scheme, transit vehicles involved in accidents within the sub-region are not impounded but released to go about their normal business once there is a valid card covering the vehicle.
With the continued sensitisation, many vehicle owners now understand that the Brown Card extension is a requirement to cross the common borders within the Ecowas member states and thus acquire it before travelling, Mr Samba said.
However, he further added that since most of the motorists do not travel outside The Gambia, they do not buy the card “even though they are still exposed to the Brown Card risks”.
“This is because a motorist from a foreign country can cause damages to your vehicle and it is the Brown Card bureau that is expected to process your claim and make sure you are adequately compensated for the damages,” he said.
It is for this reason that the national bureau is working towards making the Brown Card cover automatic for all motorists.
The head of the national bureau said the enforcement of the automatic cover will ensure that third party victims of motor accidents within the sub-region are promptly and adequately compensated.
Already, the act which establishes the Brown Card has been amended and the amendment now makes it a requirement for all countries to start the automatic issuance of the Brown Card cover to all motorists taking the local third party.
“The bureau is seriously working with our regulators, Central Bank of The Gambia, so that we can start implementing the provisions of the Act by January 2018,” Mr Samba said.
Dawda Sarge, chairperson of the national bureau, said in preparation of the automatic Brown Card cover, all insurance stakeholders, particularly those responsible for Brown Card matters in their respective countries, ought to be au fait with the instruments that cover the operation of the scheme.
He said the Ecowas Brown Card protocol is like the constitution of the scheme, but even so, a lot of the insurance practitioners do not know its depth.
“So a training like this would help highlight some of the provisions of the protocol, so that they can better interpret the benefits of the Brown Card to customers,” he explained.
“This is particularly important on the side of the customers, because many of them think that the Brown Card is merely for the border post security; when really the benefits are greater than just a demonstration of the card to officers at the border post.”
Mr Sarge called on the bureau to maintain the training on its calendar of events as part of efforts to educate the membership of the bureau on the operations and procedure of the Brown Card scheme.
The two-day training on the Brown Card was conducted by Henry Jawo, a seasoned insurance practitioner, who was said to be instrumental in setting up the national bureau and has been heading it as secretary general until his retirement in 2015. His successor, Mr Samba, was also a resource person.