Lebanese Compulsory Motor Insurance and Mechanical Checkup

In April 2003, a new Lebanese law concerning motor insurance was enacted. This law states that all cars on the Lebanese territory are to be insured for third party liability bodily injuries, so everyone had to pay the fee for this insurance. The problem with this new law is that it is unfair to those who already have insurance contracts that include “third party liability bodily injuries”, because they’d be paying for something that they already have. Citizens weren’t too happy about this law, some have objected, but nothing was done about it. Furthermore, in January 2004, the government enacted another law that states that cars must pass an obligatory mechanical checkup in order to be licensed or else they would be stopped. People objected because they believed the passing criteria were too harsh, and they couldn’t afford to fix their cars or buy new ones. This study was done to question the justice of the two new laws and report the findings according to interviews and surveys filled out by a random sample of Lebanese car owners.

 A survey was distributed and filled by 30 car owners. The survey asked them of their opinion in the compulsory motor insurance law and the compulsory mechanical checkup law; whether they thought the laws were fair or needed to be adjusted. A couple of knowledgeable car owners were also interviewed. They discussed the two laws and gave their opinions about the two matters.

The survey results show that a larger portion of Lebanese car owners believe that the compulsory motor insurance law is unfair and should be adjusted. Most of them didn’t even make use of it, but that’s a good thing. As for the compulsory car checkup law, the majority thought it was necessary, but unfair. The majority also said that their cars fail the criteria for passing the checkup, and most of them are going to fix their cars. Finally, the majority said that it would cost them 500$ or less to fix their cars.

On the other hand, the two people that were interviewed and conversed with more or less had the same points of view regarding the two laws.  They both believed that the two laws were unfair and needed to be adjusted. They said that the compulsory motor insurance law should have spared the people who are already insured for third liability bodily injury from paying the compulsory fee.  But they also believed that the law was necessary and beneficial as a concept. As for the other law, they believed it was too harsh, but also essential as a concept. They said that their cars needed to be fixed in order to pass the mechanical check, but one of them could not afford to do it right now because it would cost him more than 1000$, and he needed that money to pay for his son’s school tuition. He didn’t seem pleased with that law at all because it would leave him with no car, an essential part of his daily life.

With regard to the mechanical checkup law, a local newspaper article calls the passing criteria “impossible”, and the whole checkup a “waste of time”. The passing criteria are indeed too harsh and meticulous. For example; a car would fail the checkup if part of its windshield had a small crack, or if it had a slightly different paint color somewhere, or if some of its minor accessories or options weren’t functioning properly. This law definitely needs to be adjusted because it’s either going to leave the country car-free or broke.

However, the two laws should not be completely cancelled because they are necessary for the safety of people in the long and short run. According to industry estimates, only 30% or less of the country’s 1.6 million cars carry insurance voluntarily, so keeping the compulsory insurance law is essential. The compulsory mechanical checkup also insures the safety of passengers and other motorists, and helps in serving a healthier environment with less pollution.

From the survey results and interviews, we can conclude that the two new motor laws are in fact unfair and should be reconsidered, as the majority of the people answered in the survey. The Lebanese government should reconsider its laws, and should be more careful when creating new ones. We are all for making the country a better safer place, but can’t we at least try to do it a bit more reasonably?!

You can find more about the compulsory vehicle inspection here: http://www.mecanique.com.lb/

“Impossible Criteria and a Waste of Time…”, An-nahar, January 8, 2004, p.16, col.1


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