The Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) has urged the General Syndicate of Cars to force all auto companies under its umbrella to insure their vehicles transporting pilgrims.
The head of the MCCI’s transport committee, Saad Jamil Al-Qurashi, called on the Ministry of Haj to ensure the General Syndicate of Cars makes insurance mandatory for companies transporting pilgrims.
Al-Qurashi said insurance policies protect the rights of all parties and raise awareness of the issue, particularly in the wake of a number of accidents recently where many pilgrims were killed and injured.
“One cannot deny the huge efforts and measures taken by the syndicate to minimize bus accidents, including the process to select drivers, following up on them and making sure they undergo unannounced and regular tests,” he said. Insurance would complement this system, he added.
Lt. Ali Al-Zahrani, spokesman of the Makkah Traffic Department, said insurance would regulate the industry further.
“A driver who is insured will be released immediately, and will be subjected to the terms and conditions of the insurance company in terms of the financial assessment of damages,” Al-Zahrani said.
“If there is no insurance policy, financial fines and criminal penalties will be implemented against the person who caused the accident, and will not be released until a guarantee is submitted.” He advised all drivers and car owners to get insurance to avoid these pitfalls.
Referring to the number of accidents recently, he said: “There were only three accidents recorded at the entrances of Jeddah, Madinah and Taif, but with deaths and injuries.”
An expert in the hospitality sector, Mamdouh Noor, said that many hotels only do business with buses that have insurance policies. This is because of the great probability of accidents taking place, particularly during the busy Haj and Umrah seasons. Experts in the insurance sector estimate the insurance market for pilgrims’ buses in Saudi Arabia to be worth an estimated SR 80 to SR 100 million.
Adnan Khoja, an insurance adviser and former member of the insurance committee at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: “Several commuting companies that transport pilgrims in the Kingdom, in particular those that have large fleets of vehicles, take a scientific approach to insuring their buses and guarding the safety of their passengers. I personally supervised several insurance transactions where the value of the insurance policy was calculated by way of installments from the total value of the bus, up to 1.76 percent of the price of the vehicle itself.”
“If there are 20,000 to 30,000 buses, I estimate the market value of the insurance to be between SR 80 and SR 100 million annually.”
He said the majority of these companies have comprehensive insurance coverage, which includes their passengers.