Insurance plan to cover Grab's carpool service

Ride-hailing firm Grab announced yesterday that it is extending group personal accident insurance to users of its carpooling service GrabHitch.

The policy is aimed at complementing the personal motor insurance bought individually by drivers, said Grab, adding that there is no additional cost to users.

The news comes after concerns were raised recently on whether vehicles used for carpooling are covered by private motor insurance policies in accident cases.

GrabHitch is one of several carpooling services to emerge after laws were passed in 2015 to allow drivers to be paid for offering rides within Singapore. Unlike vehicles used for private-hire services such as GrabCar and UberX, cars used for carpooling are not required to have commercial insurance.

Last month, in a letter to The Straits Times, General Insurance Association of Singapore chief executive Derek Teo said that insurance policies for private cars have a "limitation to use" condition, restricting usage of the vehicle to "social, domestic and pleasure purposes".

This condition is breached if the vehicle is used for hire and reward, even under the Road Traffic (Car Pools) Exemption Order, he said.

Mr Anthony Chey, insurance partner at law firm RHTLaw Taylor Wessing LLP, said insurers could reject claims should they choose to consider carpooling as a "hire-reward transaction".

  • US$15k

    Limit of Grab's total personal accident benefit for riders for accidental death and permanent disablement.
     

    US$50k

    Aggregate limit per accident in Singapore.

He added that the probability of accidents increases as more vehicles are used for carpooling. One solution could be for carpooling drivers to obtain commercial insurance, he said.

Alternatively, suggested Mr Chey, drivers can inform insurers of their intention to carpool to see if the insurer is agreeable to including additional coverage.

NTUC Income said that normal motor insurance will suffice, as long as the policyholder is in "full compliance" with carpooling regulations laid out by the authorities. But these stipulate that drivers can offer only two rides a day and payment cannot exceed the expenses incurred for carrying a passenger.

GrabHitch users welcomed the new plan. One regular user, teacher Shazielah Rahim, 27, said she was concerned about accidents as some drivers she had encountered were "pretty reckless", so the new plan "definitely puts her at ease".

Under Grab's policy, the total personal accident benefit for riders is up to US$15,000 (S$20,800) for accidental death and permanent disablement, or up to an aggregate limit of US$50,000 per accident in Singapore.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 13, 2017, with the headline 'Insurance plan to cover Grab's carpool service'. Print Edition | Subscribe