Working in Saudi Arabia is a challenge, but driving in Saudi roads is much more than that. Unfortunately, Saudi Arabia has one of the worst records of road safety in the world. This post is meant to guide those expatriates working in Saudi Arabia who are caught in an unfortunate accident. I really wish none of you use the tips given here and everyone has a safe drive on the roads. Nevertheless, it always helps to know what to do in an emergency. Ignorance is not bliss, it is dangerous :-?
I have already mentioned in one of my previous posts (click here) of the importance of carrying your documents with you. You MUST definitely carry your original iqama, vehicle insurance card, driving license, vehicle registratiion (istemara) and vehicle ownership cards with you all the time. Remember that driving in Saudi Arabia without a valid insurance is a crime and you could be jailed for the same. Unfortunately, these rules are strictly implemented only for expatriates working in Saudi Arabia and not for the locals >:P
Usually new cars should be covered with a comprehensive insurance, but it is economical to take a third party insurance if your car is more than 5 years old, as the book value of your car would have been almost reduced to zero due to depreciation. Click on this link for more information about it.
The first thing you must do if you are caught in an accident is NOT to move your car until the police arrives. Just put on the hazard lights and stand by the road side, and do not bother about the traffice behind or ahead of you. If you try moving your car, you could land in a more serious offence of trying to tamper with evidence, so be careful
Once the police arrives, they will first ask for your iqama and you as well as the other party will be asked to go to the police station. If the accident is serious, usually an ambulance would accompany the police and the area would be cleared of the junk in no time.
When you reach the police station, all conversation would be in Arabic, so if possible try contacting your Government Relations Officer / your sponsor / any of your Arabic speaking friends over phone and ask him to come to the police station immediately. Try to avoid signing in any kind of document until your sponsor arrives on the spot. Remember, this is the most important part.
Once, a Saudi hit my vehicle from behind and I was asked to sign a document by the police. In good faith, I signed the same and the next day when I took a friend to the police station, he explained to me that I have signed a paper which said that everything was my own fault and that I am releasing the Saudi guy of all offences and that all repair would be borne by me ^#(^ Of course, not all policemen are mean, but you never know who is good or bad, so take all precautions.
You may sometimes find yourself in a tight situation that your sponsor cannot come and that the police is forcing you to sign some document. In that case, do sign but write above your signature that you do not understand anything what is written above. Believe me, this is for your own safety.
Never ever reveal to the other party that you have vehicle insurance. It is very common for the locals not to carry any kind of papers including insurance ( I am not blaming all of them, but this is usually the case). Once the guy knows that you have insurance, he may try to negotiate with the cop and see that a part of the blame is shifted on you (again, one cannot generalize, but it happened to me, so be careful). The cop will usually split the fault to both the parties as a percentage, i.e., 0%-100%, 50-50, 75-25 or 100-0% etc. This refers to the percentage fault and the amount of damage also varies in proportion to this. Of course, if someone hits your vehicle from behind, he is at 100% fault.
The next few days could be traumatic without a vehicle as you would be asked to bring three quotations from authorized workshops. The lowest of the three would have to be borne by the other party, if he is at fault or vice versa. The amount is to be paid / recovered from the other party in front of the police and only then the case would be closed. Make sure that this is done, because you would not be allowed to leave the kingdom on vacation or on exit as it would appear in the computer against your iqama number if it is still pending.
Good luck and have a safe drive!