(Issue, Monday, August 22, 2016)
Senior insurance officials have recently undergone a two-day training course meant to refresh and enhance their knowledge and understanding of the Brown Card Insurance Scheme, an extra-territorial third party motor insurance policy.
The Brown Card, introduced in 1982, is issued to vehicles driving from their country to any Ecowas member state, and it covers third party liability for injury, death and property damage caused in the visiting country.
The seminar to edify motor and claims managers responsible for Brown Card matters in their respective companies was organised by the Gambia National Bureau of Ecowas Brown Card. It ended at the bureau’s secretariat in Banjul on Friday.
Speaking on the occasion, Saihou Samba, secretary general of the national bureau, said the objective of the training course is to enhance the participants’ understanding of the operations and procedures of the Brown Card scheme.
“They are the ones responsible for Brown Card matters in their offices, and as such they should be periodically educated on the developments and practices of the scheme. This is our responsibility as the national bureau, and it will enable the participants to extend the information to their clients,” he said.
Mr Samba explained that the Brown Card is an instrument of regional integration, as it facilitates free movement of goods and persons within Ecowas.
“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,” he elaborated.
Samba said his office, the national bureau, provides assistance to motorists when accident occurs in The Gambia. The bureau acts as both the handling and issuing agency under the Brown Card scheme. As an issuing agency, the bureau makes the Brown Card available to resident motorists; and it carries out investigations and settlement of claims arising from accidents incurred by the Brown Card holder, as a handling agency.
The secretary general of the national bureau said increasingly, many vehicle owners now understand that the Brown Card is a requirement to cross the common borders within the Ecowas member state, and thus acquire it before travelling.
“However, since most of the motorists do not travel outside The Gambia, they do not buy the Brown Card even though they are still exposed to the Brown Card risks,” Mr Samba said.
“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 pointed out that, for this reason, the national bureau is working towards making the Brown Card cover automatic for all motorists.
“This will ensure that third party victims of accidents within the sub region are promptly and adequately compensated,” Samba said.
Dawda Sarge, chairperson of the national bureau, said the two-day training course mainly focused on the four documents that govern the operations of the Brown Card scheme in The Gambia and the sub-region.
The documents that powered the effective implementation of the Brown Card scheme are the Ecowas Brown Card protocol, the supplementary protocol, the inter-bureau agreement, and the Harmonised Convention on Brown Card Claims.
Mr Sarge 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.”
The two-day training course 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 last year.
His successor, Mr Samba, was also a resource person.