Thinking of going out in Bucharest today?
Much of north-central Bucharest (as well as routes in and out of the city) have been brought to a grinding halt by lorry and taxi drivers protesting about the cost of vehicle insurance. Despite meeting with – and winning concessions from – representatives of the government yesterday, including a freeze on the price of insurance premiums for six months, the transporters’ association COTAR has gone ahead with the protest regardless. That suggests from the start what kind of people we are dealing with here.
For the uninitiated, here is a quick guide as to how vehicle insurance works in Romania.
There are two kinds of policy: RCA (which is obligatory), and what’s known as Casco (which is optional). RCA primarily covers third party damage, while Casco covers everything else (depending on how thorough your policy is), from theft to breakdowns.
Now, there is no question that prices for RCA are relatively high (a year’s cover for a standard family car is between 750 and 1000 lei). Casco premiums are far higher, depending on the amount of excess.
The reason for this however is not greed on the part of the government or insurance companies, but rather the way insurance in Romania is sold, whereby vehicles – and not drivers – are insured.
Take our car for example, whose current RCA policy costs 842 lei per year. The car is usually driven by Mrs. Bucharest Life, one of the most careful and conscientious drivers you could hope for. And yet it is not Mrs. Bucharest Life who is insured. The car is insured – and here is the problem – regardless of who drives it. We could lend it to an 18-year-old who had literally just passed his driving test and not have to pay a penny more in insurance.
This nonsensical way of doing things means that young boy racers with wealthy parents can pass their tests and immediately jump behind the wheel of the fastest BMW (it’s always a BMW). No wonder they cause so many accidents.
And just as there is no penalty for young, inexperienced or bad drivers, there is no reward for careful drivers. The idea of a ‘no claims bonus’ simply does not exist.
That’s why prices are so high: good drivers are subsidising the bad.
Vehicle insurance should reward the careful and penalise dickheads. Until it does, prices will be high for everyone.
As such, the lorry drivers protesting today should – given how many accidents they cause in Romania, and how often they crash into people’s houses – shut up and be thankful they do not pay much more.