By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senator Grace Poe lauded the extension of the accreditation of insurance providers of public utility vehicles (PUVs) and doubling of the insurance coverage of commuters.
The insurance for buses and jeepneys was supposed to lapse Saturday, November 17, but the Insurance Commission (IC) had issued a circular which, in effect, extends the implementation of the insurance packages in cases of accidents involving PUVs.
The IC, in its Circular Letter 2018-59 dated Nov. 15, ordered a status quo on the implementation of the Passenger Personal Accident Insurance (PPAI) program which covers passengers, drivers and conductors.
Poe said she earlier sought the IC regarding the matter following reports from concerned transport groups. The senator said if the insurance coverage lapsed, transport owners or operators would have to pay the passenger claims and damages in the event of an accident.
“Kamakailan lang, idinulog sa aking tanggapan ang tungkol sa pagtatapos ng bisa ng accreditation ng mga insurance providers ng milyun-milyong pasahero. (Recently, it reached our office that the accreditation of insurance providers for the millions of passengers would soon expire). Fortunately, the Insurance Commission immediately acted by hearing out the concerns of the riding public and the transport sector. Isang malaking pasasalamat sa agarang pagtugon ng Insurance Commission sa isyung ito. (I am grateful for the swift responce of the IC),” Poe, who chairs the committee on public services, said in a statement.
“Dahil sa agarang pagtugon ng Insurance Commission, wala nang matatanggalan ng proteksyon ng passenger insurance simula sa Linggo, Nov. 18. (Because of the IC’s swift action, no passenger will lose insurance benefits starting Sunday),” she added.
Under the circular signed by IC Commissioner Dennis Funa, existing insurance providers shall continue to provide insurance coverage on a hold-over capacity until after the agency issues the necessary regulation.
Aside from this, insurance benefits for victims of vehicular accidents were also doubled. For instance, the death benefit has increased to P400,000 while total disability insurance is now at P200,000. Other benefits covering passenger injuries and accidents have also been doubled.
Premium rates were also adjusted to: P5,120 for Metro Manila buses; P6,670 for provincial buses; and P2,910 for jeepneys. New premium rates for other PUVs shall be P3,010 for AUVs; P2,510 for sedan; and P1,655 for trucks.
LTFRB ‘inaction’ hit
Poe, on the other hand, slammed the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) for supposedly failing to act on the expiring accreditation of PUV insurance providers.
“Despite the unity of insurers and insured alike, as well as transport groups and commuters, on their desire to continue the PPAI system in place, and even increase the benefits of passengers for accidental death, permanent disability, among others, the LTFRB had ignored their concerns. LTFRB had not acted for almost a year until the accreditation of the insurers was supposed to expire on Nov. 17,” Poe said after learning of the delay.
The LTFRB has been handling the PPAI program since its inception in 1999.
In November 2015, it entered into a three-year contract with Passenger Assistance Management and Insurance Agency, Inc. (PAMI) and SSCI Management and Insurance Agency Corp. (SSCI) to provide for the insurance benefits of PUV passengers. The two conglomerates each comprised of at least 30 member-companies which were authorized by the LTFRB to collect premiums from PUV operators for their passenger insurance policy.
A public consultation was reportedly held October 25, 2017 to discuss the proposals to increase the benefits under the PPAI program. In a letter dated Nov. 27, 2017, the IC forwarded the matter to the LTFRB as the government agency tasked with implementing the PPAI program.
The Department of Transportation (DOTr), however, issued Department Order No. 2018-020 in August transferring the assessment, evaluation and accreditation of insurance companies under the “sole and exclusive authority” of the IC.
But the IC said it was only informed about the DOTr’s order during a congressional hearing sometime September.
“With the impending expiration of the accreditation of insurance providers with the LTFRB on Nov. 17, 2018…the IC is placed in a bind as to what system to put in place given the short period of time before the expiration of the existing program on Nov. 17, 2018. It is noted that there are conflicting proposals as to the manner in which this Commission should assess and evaluate the qualifications and requirements of insurance providers,” the IC said in its circular.
“Clearly, government authorities and agencies can never go wrong if they truly listen to the concerns of the affected stakeholders,” Poe said.