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Insurance claims from cyclists rising

This story was first published in The Straits Times on Aug 30, 2013

THE number of motor accident insurance claims involving cyclists has doubled in the last three years, according to major insurer AIG.

It attributes the rise to the growing popularity of cycling in Singapore, both as a sport and a mode of transport.

Last year, AIG received 156 bodily injury claims from cyclists, up from 94 in 2011 and 77 in 2010. It expects the uptrend to continue as the number of claims has already hit 105 for the first six months of this year.

Other insurers like AXA have also noticed more such accidents but were unable to provide figures by press time.

According to AIG, the number has been rising steadily in the past 10 years.

In 2002, for instance, there was only one such claim, said its Singapore vice-president Wong Siew Lee, who heads the motor insurance business.

Official figures show 179 cyclists were injured in the first six months of this year. Last year, 391 were injured in traffic accidents, down from 485 in 2011.

But the number of deaths appears to be climbing: 15 cyclists died in 2011 and 16 last year. For the first half of this year, nine died and if the rate persists, it will exceed that of last year.

Singapore's biggest motor insurer, NTUC Income, however, has not seen a noticeable increase of claims involving cyclists in recent years.

Its vice-president for motor insurance, Mr Peh Chee Keong, said about five such claims are made each month.

Such accident claims, however, form a fraction of the average 2,800 bodily injury claims AIG receives each year. Those involving cyclists account for about 5 per cent of these claims but 10 per cent of the total claims amount for bodily injury, as their injuries tend to be more severe.

Ms Wong said some claims involved foreign workers cycling when they were not working. These accidents tend to occur around construction sites in areas such as Sembawang, Kallang and Jurong. Other claims involved recreational cyclists pedalling in parks or reservoirs, she added.

In many cases, the cyclists do not obey traffic rules, she said.

"There were cases of cyclists who dashed across pedestrian crossings when the light wasn't in their favour, and also side collisions with vehicles."

AXA's spokesman said several accidents happen at traffic junctions with pedestrian crossings. More has to be done to educate users about road safety, she added.

As there are no bicycle lanes along roads in Singapore, "drivers should allow extra space when passing cyclists", said Income's Mr Peh.

"Cyclists must remember they have the same responsibilities as other vehicles and signal when manoeuvring," he added.

Mr Mohamed Salim Mohd Amin, a cyclist and lead manager of BikInsurance, the only insurance product for cyclists here, wants greater enforcement. "There isn't enough traffic police around, so if drivers are in a hurry they tend to speed and take risks, endangering the life and limb of cyclists."

roysim@sph.com.sg

This story was first published in The Straits Times on Aug 30, 2013

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