Bangkok: Drive-up service

Police penalize uninsured drivers

The insurance department of the Thai government has found a creative way to force motorists to insure their vehicles: Get the police to set up random checkpoints. And if you're stopped at a checkpoint, a team of insurance company representatives may join you.

This way, drivers without coverage can buy it on the spot in a sort of amnesty. Anyone brave enough to refuse faces a fine of as much as $220.

It is one way to tackle a big problem. Officially, there are 21 million vehicles in Thailand, but records show only 8 million insurance policies.

Among motorcyclists, only 28 percent of registered two-wheelers carry even third-party insurance. But then again, only a small proportion of bikes are registered, let alone insured.

In Bangkok, just 39 percent of all vehicles carry any coverage.

Authorities say their aim is to increase the total proportion of road users with insurance to 70 percent. They claim if everyone were insured, premiums could fall by half.

For the record, Thai law requires vehicle insurance.

You can reach Chaz Osburn at autonews@crain.com

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