Speed limiters must be declared, insurer says

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 October, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 October, 2009, 12:00am

Minibus operators will not be insured for damage to speed limiters unless they notify insurers that the devices have been installed.

The Hong Kong Federation of Insurers said the Transport Department had not yet consulted it about the decision in August to make speed limiters compulsory on the city's 4,350 minibuses and it was not certain how many of the vehicles already had the devices. But the federation's chief executive, Peter Tam Chung-ho, said even if minibus operators had followed all official requirements in installing the device, they should still inform their insurers.

'We would still insure any damage to vehicles if it is caused by a malfunctioning speed limiter, it's only the speed limiter itself that will not be given the protection [until it was declared as a vehicle component].'

Tam said, however, that the federation welcomed any device that could enhance road safety and reduce the number of accidents.

Lai Ming-hung of the Taxi and Public Light Bus Concern Group has repeatedly expressed concern that speed limiters - a device that is connected to the gearbox and accelerator - may interfere with the motor, and result in higher repair and maintenance costs. 'The federation said it will not insure any extra costs incurred in repairs and maintenance.'

But Tam said the maintenance of vehicles and regular repair work - regardless of the cause - were never insurable items.

The Transport Department said in late August that all licensed minibuses must be fitted with speed limiters before the first quarter of 2011. Officials also released the lists of authorised suppliers and installers on its website.

The decision came five years after demands for the devices were sparked by a horrific accident in North Point involving two minibus drivers who were speeding as they competed to pick up passengers.

But not much progress has been made in the past two months. Veteran minibus operator Leung Hung, who owns hundreds of the vehicles, said he was not even sure who the authorised suppliers were. 'The department did consult us about the policy two months ago, but I hope they will give us more concrete instructions, such as written documents, before we would actually begin the installation process.'