With effect from June 1, 2016 all vehicle owners in Ghana will have to obtain an ECOWAS Brown Card insurance certificate to ensure prompt and fair compensation to victims of motor accident caused by non-citizen motorists from other ECOWAS member states.
Until the current directive, the ECOWAS Brown Card Insurance Certificate was one of the required documents for vehicle being taken out of Ghana. It is a third-party liability insurance cover issued to vehicles driving from their country to any ECOWAS member country.
“But this will change from June 1, 2016. Every vehicle insured by a company in Ghana must obtain an ECOWAS brown card insurance certificate,” said Mr Gabriel Glover, the Chief Executive Officer of the ECOWAS Brown Card Insurance Scheme, in an interview during the first zonal meeting and training seminar for members of the ECOWAS brown card scheme.
The seminar, organised by the Council of Bureau of the ECOWAS Brown Card Scheme, was on the theme “trans-border claims management”.
The ECOWAS Brown Card scheme was introduced in 1982 following the signing of the ECOWAS Brown Card Protocol by the ECOWAS heads of state to facilitate the free movement of goods and services.
Mr Glover explained that the certificate covered third party liability for injury, death and property damage caused by visiting motorists from other ECOWAS member states.
He said the main objective of the scheme was to ensure prompt and fair compensation to victims of motor accidents caused by non-citizen motorists visiting their territory from other ECOWAS member states.
Explaining the claims procedure, he said the certificates were issued to motorists through their insurers.
“In case of an accident involving a visiting vehicle, the accident is reported to the National Bureau after which the bureau would contact the police to get the vehicle released if no criminal offence is committed, and then settle the liability risks,” he said.
Already, he said, the system had been introduced in Ghana as motorists from July 1, 2015 had been paying the ECOWAS liability risk cover as part of their insurance premiums “but what is new is that we are now going to issue certificates to the insured”.
The Chairman of the Ghana National Bureau, Mr Kwame Ofori, said Ghana would be the first Anglophone country to implement the automatic issuance of the brown card.
He said the seminar was to provide a platform for sharing ideas among the member countries to promote the effectiveness and efficiency of the scheme.
In a speech read on her behalf, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Ms Hanna Serwaah Tetteh, said the successful adoption of the common instruments and the simplification and harmonisation of processes and documentation were critical to the common quest of the authority of ECOWAS heads of state and government to achieve integration in the sub-region.
She, therefore, urged all member states of ECOWAS to garner the political will to put these institutional structures in place for effective implementation of the provisions of the scheme.
“When we do not work assiduously to unify our markets in all spheres of economic endeavour we would deny ourselves the opportunities of growth that are associated with larger markets and economies of scale,” she said.
The Commissioner of Insurance, Mrs Lydia Lariba Bawa, expressed concern over the delays associated with the payments of claims by the bureaus and, therefore, called for prompt settlement of claims.
“There are some outstanding claims for the past 15 to 20 years where victims are still waiting to be paid and in some cases some of the victims have died.”