ECONOMY

Insurance firms say car crashes push up premiums

Insurance companies argue that the high incidence of car accidents and victims thereof, plus their alleged losses in this particular business, will force them to raise insurance premiums sooner rather than later. Participants at a meeting held yesterday by the Association of Insurance Companies Greece (AICG) on car insurance and accident prevention heard that average car insurance premiums in Greece are the lowest in EU countries. On the other hand, Greek drivers are involved in a large number of accidents, the highest per capita and per road mileage in the EU. Speakers concluded that, unless the State immediately implements an effective policy to drastically reduce accidents, insurance premiums will have to rise. Margarita Antonaki, general manager of AICG told participants that Greek insurance companies must become healthier by improving their results. She remarked that the increasing cost of reinsurance, plus the decline in revenues from investments, due to the bearish stock market, make raising insurance premiums a necessity. Deputy Transport and Communications Minister Spyros Vouyias remarked that deaths in car accidents had declined 8 percent during the first 10 months of the year, compared to the same period in 2000. Still, the incidence of deaths, 240 per million, is almost double the EU average. Vouyias said that the government’s goal is a 25-percent reduction in fatal accidents over the next five years. Costas Bertsias, head of the AICG’s Civil Liability Committee, said that low premiums have led the car insurance business to show losses of 35 billion drachmas (about 100 million euros) in 2000.