I now have more than 10 years experience with car insurance. I can state with some certainty and confidence that car insurance in the Netherlands is well organized. The amounts for civil liability are regularly increased and are the same everywhere. Rules are transparent and clear.
During an interview with Rob van de Kamp, owner of VDK insurance, the system in America came up for discussion. Rob worked 12 years as an All State agent in Sacramento. He told about the differences between car insurance in the Netherlands and America. In the United States, the amounts for statutory liability are many times lower than those established in the Netherlands. In addition, the amounts differ per state. Then it involves tens of thousands of dollars compared to millions of euros in the Netherlands.
I thought it would be good to visit America to examine the differences. From the Netherlands I had contact with an All State agent to ask if it would be possible to come by for a few days. Rare question perhaps, but it did not cause a problem. I went to Houston. The agent in question told me that she actually would rather not have a conversation, because that would be against the rules of All State. According to her, it was not allowed to have contact with people from other insurance companies. After further research this turned out to be related to the claim culture in America. It would have been nicer if she had told me earlier.
However, I did not let myself be fooled and eventually came into contact with a State Farm agent in Houston. After insisting on my part, he wanted to inform me about car insurance in America.
The larger insurance companies, such as All State and State Farm, employ several employees at an office. These offices work under the name of a certain agent, but often have several managers and insurance advisers working for them. It is also possible to ‘buy’ insurance from a local agent. It is also possible to take out insurance yourself online. Nevertheless, most Americans prefer an agent and personal contact. That is why you have one-offers everywhere in Houston who sell insurance. This sometimes results in a separate street scene.
The coverage and rules for car insurance differ per state and are not federally regulated. A number of things are generally in line with car insurance in the Netherlands, such as the insurance of casings and the possible determination of a deductible. The amounts for liability vary per state, but are many times lower than in the Netherlands. It is possible to increase these amounts as additional cover, but this is not done by insured parties as standard. Naturally, the premium to be paid will also be higher.
An additional cover that is compulsory in some states and in any case the ‘Uninsured Motorist Coverage’ is advised. This supplement provides cover for damage caused by a counterparty that is not insured or for which the information is not known. In some states this includes the ‘Underinsured Motorist Coverage’. This insurance offers cover if the counterparty is insufficiently insured for liability. If you do not insure these coverages, you run the risk that you have to pay for this yourself in case of damage. And this can add up nicely!
In my opinion, car insurance in the Netherlands offers better coverage in the event of damage. The amounts for civil liability have been determined and are therefore basically the same for everyone. We also have the Motor Traffic Guarantee Fund here if the counterparty turns out to be uninsured. It is not necessary to take out additional supplementary cover to cover these risks.
The car insurance policies in America have a contract duration of 6 months. After that, it is not only checked whether damage has been driven, but also the number of speeding offenses. This is a clear difference compared to the Netherlands. In the case of speeding offenses, you will not only receive a fine, but you also run the risk of paying a higher premium for your car insurance. Should this rule also be implemented in the Netherlands? Would this make any difference on the road? In Texas this seems to be the case. According to the State Farm agent, people generally take this into account. It can therefore be a substantial premium increase.
In conclusion, I note that in my opinion the legal liability in the Netherlands is better arranged. Insured persons need not be afraid that the counterparty is insufficiently insured. If the counterparty is not insured, the Guarantee Fund can still be invoked. In addition, the RDW and the police regularly check whether the WAM insurance is maintained. It is inconceivable in the Netherlands to take out an additional insurance in case the counterparty proves to be insufficient or even uninsured.
In America, the premium is based not only on the damage history, but also on the number of speeding offenses. I believe that this should also be introduced in the Netherlands. Insurers are currently already working on various boxes to measure the driving behavior of insured parties. If there is safe driving according to the box, this premium discount. In the case of unsafe driving, such as speeding, the premium can actually become higher. People who have such a box in the car at the moment, therefore already take this into account. It seems that if premium insurance premiums also look at the number of speeding offenses, people pay more attention to the permitted speed. Nobody wants to feel it in his wallet. This ultimately results in a safer society.