Appeals court strikes down drunk driving insurance clause

Ruling frees drunk drivers from facing additional charges due to nullified cover

Appeals court strikes down drunk driving insurance clause

Insurance News

By Gabriel Olano

Drunk drivers in Hong Kong may still be eligible for insurance cover after the appeals court ruled against a common clause in many motor insurance policies.

Acting on two criminal case appeals, the Court of Appeal recently ruled that drivers with blood alcohol levels over the legal limit should still be covered by third-party insurance.

It is quite common for motor insurance policies to have clauses saying that the insurer will not cover any loss or damages incurred if the driver’s blood alcohol level exceeded the legal limit. If the insurance is nullified, then drunk drivers face a second charge – driving without third-party insurance.

However, the Court of Appeal said that the clause is illegal, as it goes against the law regulating third-party insurance. As a result, the Court overturned the sentences of Law Wing-fai and Gilbert Henry Collins, who were both charged with driving without third-party insurance due to drunk driving.

The Court said that the Motor Vehicles Insurance (Third Party) Ordinance states that there should be no discrimination placed on a driver’s age and physical or mental condition when formulating insurance policies.

“A restriction ... based on the proportion of alcohol in a driver’s breath/blood/urine … is clearly a restriction by reference to the driver’s physical condition,” Justice Maria Candace Yuen Ka-ning wrote in the ruling.

Related stories:
Up to US$1 billion in losses expected after typhoon batters Hong Kong
Thailand cracks down on drunk drivers
Mainland China to benefit from Hong Kong as a reinsurance hub

Keep up with the latest news and events

Join our mailing list, it’s free!