RANGOON — As the number of accidents on Burma’s roads appears to be rising, drivers and passengers from this week will have to purchase a new insurance policy specifically covering them in case of accidents on the country’s highways.
On the Rangoon-Naypyidaw road alone, 66 people died and more than 300 people were injured in the first four months of this year. The busy stretch of poorly built road has become a hotspot for accidents in recent years, and has been dubbed the “death highway.”
In an announcement in state media on Monday, the Insurance Business Supervisory Board said that government-run Myanma Insurance and 11 private insurance companies will from Thursday begin selling a policy named Special Travel Insurance for Express Ways.
Aung Soe Oo, general manager of IKBZ Insurance Company, one of the firms that will be selling the policy, told The Irrawaddy that it will be compulsory for Burmese and foreigners traveling more than 100 miles on Burma’s roads.
The policy will cost just 300 kyat, or about US$0.30, for one unit, with individuals only permitted to buy up to two units at one time.
The terms of the policy, which are fixed across the different providers, include a payout of up to 3.5 million kyat, or about $3,500, in the event of death and up to 2.4 million kyat in medical costs, Aung Soe Oo said.
“It is good for passengers since they can prevent losses if unavoidable accidents happen on a trip,” he said.
“Myanma Insurance was selling travel insurance already, which compensates at most 1 million kyat, but this new travel insurance is especially designed for highway passengers.”
The policy can be bought along with bus tickets, or directly from insurers for those in rental vehicles, he said, adding that bus companies will get a 10 percent commission for selling the policies.
Most insurance in Burma is provided by the government’s insurer, but now seven types of insurance have been opened up to private companies.
“Although there is travel insurance for travelers currently, to be covered more efficiently, this new Special Travel Insurance for Express Ways is being implemented,” the state-run Myanma Alinn newspaper quoted deputy finance minister Maung Maung Thein as saying.
In 2013, there were 259 accidents on the Rangoon-Naypyitaw highway, with 113 deaths and 625 injuries resulting, according to the police office for the highway. From January to April this year, there were 167 accidents on the highway.