The accident of the Polish coach in Croatia, in which 12 people died and a dozen were seriously injured, will remain on the radar of the entire insurance industry for years and beyond. Experts say that the money from the motor vehicle insurance of the perpetrator of the accident will not be sufficient for all the victims (and in some cases also for their relatives), and litigation will last for years.
EU standards vs those in Poland and Croatia
The minimum amount of cover for personal injury (the amount that the insurer has to pay) in EU countries is EUR 5.21 million. This translates into about PLN 26 million. On the other hand, in Croatia, where the limits were raised in relation to EU standards, this sum amounts to HRK 48.7 million, i.e. approximately PLN 30.6 million. So, which amount should be applied? The victims were Polish tourists travelling on board of a Polish coach which veered off the road into a ditch and then hit an obstacle. It should be noted here that there was no collision with another vehicle. Therefore, Polish regulations will apply.
There may not be enough money for everyone
Experts warn that the amount of cover may run out quickly. One of them, Łukasz Wawrzeńczyk, president of Profiki Broker, points out that: „the sums insured may only be enough to pay the claims of relatives who did not survive the accident, and to cover the costs of treatment and the cost of transporting the bodies and the injured persons back to the country.” There may not be enough money for the payment of compensation to the injured and subsequent annuities.
Compensation will be paid by one of the three largest property insurers
When asked about possible costs, a representative of Warta, the insurer of the perpetrator of the accident, replied that „it is too early to predict the scale of the payouts from the coach’s motor insurance”. Similar restraint is visible in the position of the Polish Insurance Chamber (PIU). The quoted information is supposed to result from the lack of specific information on the condition of the survivors, and thus on the services needed in the future. Moreover, PIU reminds that it is not about a one-off payment, but about long-term payouts.
Examples of claims against the insurer
Most of the money is spent on treatment, physiotherapy and pensions (including alimony). The experience of insurers shows that the standard amount of the payout for people requiring constant care is 10-12 thousands PLN, where in exceptional cases it may even exceed 20 thousands PLN. Close victims may ask for compensation for non-pecuniary damages such as the pain and suffering and for the break-up or deterioration of family ties. It is estimated at about 0,5 million zlotys per family (100-150 thousand zlotys for a person close to the victim). However, payouts may be higher for large families – a condition for this is a particularly close relationships.
The principle of priority and a “way out”
The problem is the lack of regulations on the allocation of the money from the pool by the insurer among the entitled. In practice, the following rule applies: first come, first served. When the money runs out, the entitled can resort to taking legal action. „If the total amount of paid claims and benefits exceeds 80 percent of the amount of cover, the insurance company is obliged to notify the aggrieved party or the beneficiary of this fact. At the same time, he must notify these persons that they may apply to the court for the continuation of the payouts under Art. 357  of the Civil Code ”- reminds PIU representative. On the other hand, the president of Votum Claims adds that: „You can sue the insurer to increase the amount of cover or submit further claims directly to the carrier”. It is not known, however, whether the company will still exist, when the funds from the amount of cover run out, and whether it will be solvent. It is therefore recommended that you gather all documentation of the damage and file a claim promptly.