Thursday, August 14, 2008

Road accidents in Saudi Arabia

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!

22 comments:

aceventura said...

WAO ... I have to say double/triple kudos for this blog ... I can see you've covered almoust everything :) ...

Is it possible for you to describe a procedure for the TRANSFER OF VEHICLE OWNERSHIP when it's a done between the two expatriates - mano2mano :)) ... Obviously you've done it, and you know the way ... if you are not planning to post it yet can you PLEASE PLEASE send it to my mail address:
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Expatguru said...

aceventura,

Glad to know that you liked my blog. Please read this link

http://workinginsaudiarabia.blogspot.com/2008/04/used-cars-in-saudi-arabia_15.html

aceventura said...

actually, I've read that post before posting my "cry for help" :). That post talks about buying it from the "exibition", not DIRECTLY from the other expat (which is what I'm trying to perform).

So, what PAPERS do 2 expats (buyer and seller) have to prepare and WHERE and HOW they can go to undergo famous "transfer of vehicle ownership" procedure?

Expatguru said...

aceventura,

I stand by what I have said. You CANNOT directly buy from anyone else without involving the middle man - the exhibition agent!

The second part of your question has made me think that I might as well write a post on this in detail. Watch out for this space!

Anonymous said...

Dear Blog,

I am working in Saudi Araia since 2004 and i am facing a big problam.now i hav to pay a penalty of 20,000 wt exit.let me tell you the reason behind this.around 1year back my parents inlaws came to saudi on visiting visa . they only got 2mnts visa.after some health problems they hav to stay here two more days and to avoid any difficulties in airport i extended visa to 1month by giving a fine sr 100.they left the nextday.after that i went out nd came back for threetimes.3 months back when i tried exit re entry to visit dubai my copmany told that they cant do that becouse the penalty i mentioed above. even i have given them the proof (passport copy of in laws) submitted to the MOI to prove that they went on time. but it was rejected and i dont know what to do now. how this mistake happend and they told that still they are here as it is not in their system. where i shoudl go and companitn on this please help..me as soon as possible.
skm

Expatguru said...

SKM

I feel sorry for your plight. Unfortunately, the only way out is to take your sponsor or some Saudi with enough 'Wasta' and go to the Passport Office with all the required documents to prove that they have already left the kingdom on time. Don't go yourself without a Saudi accompanying you. Good luck!

firdhous said...

Dear Sir,
now i am in a bulding technician visa.But i am working as electrical engineer here.My wife is a biotch engineer,is it possible for me to get family status and some biotech related works for my wife in saudi arabia.Plz explain the formalities.

Expatguru said...

Firdhous,

You can certainly bring your wife on a permanent visa. Your wife would be able to get openings in good hospitals in the laboratory, but again it depends on experience and to some extent, luck.

Anonymous said...

Dear sir,
I was involve in vehicular accident this month. I was hit in front of me by a reckless driving then the car eventualy crash on the road side there is a saudi woman and a child and the expat driver. the car had been totally reck. when im in the police station no body from my side come to help me about the arabic negotiation and only the other party come but I make finger print on the report,then the other driver was put into jail and the police just said to me go home without anything, I am the one now fixing my own car. I was afraid because I dont understand was written on the report, hope fully it will be clear because my vacation is near coming....

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

This is so typical of the way thing work here. I too had a very similar experience. However, I had a comprehensive insurance. I was forced by the policeman to sign a document which I innocently signed thinking it was an FIR. The next day, I came to know through a Saudi friend (whom I had taken to the police station) that I had signed a document which said that all expenses are on me and that I am relieving the other party of all liabilities. I protested and after a lot of pressure from the insurance company, I had to settle for a compromise amount.
In your case, you should have immediately involved your Government Relations Officer (Mundoop). If not, please do so right away.

Anonymous said...

I got a minor car accident and both parties send to police station and instructed as to get 3 quotations from authorized workshops, we surrender our Driving license and estimara after complying with all the
things the police ask me if i have insurance and after that he returns all my documents. is this closed already?

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

Please fill in your query in the form using the link in the top right corner of this blog. I charge a nominal fee for my consultancy, which would get you a detailed, personalized reply by email.

Anonymous said...

in relation to your last paragraph, what if u have your car insurance are u going to pay the other party as you are at fault?

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

You would have to pay the initial amount of approximately SR500 (this varies depending on your insurance company. Above this amount, your insurance company will pay the other part proportional to your fault. For example, if both the cars got damaged and the police decides that your fault is 30% while the other party's fault is 70%, then you have to first pay SR500 (initial amount, varies according from one insurance company to another) and above this, your insurance company would pay 30% of the other party's car repairs while his insurance company would pay 70% of your car's repairs. How the percentage is decided depends purely on the mood of the policeman. Also, if you are an expat and if the other guy happens to be a Saudi, rest assured that in all probability you would be decided as totally at fault, so it is best to take a comprehensive insurance.

Anonymous said...

what if you are driving a company car which have a valid insurance and it is comprehensive, is the driver of the company car already cleared on his liabilities to the other party since its only minor accident no one is hurt.

The police already return both their estimara and driving license and told them that they go insurance to get the claim, in this are the both drivers are already cleared?

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

Please fill in your query in the form using the link in the top right corner of this blog. I charge a nominal fee for my consultancy, which would get you a detailed, personalized reply by email.

Anonymous said...

Hi my brother hit a car n run away as he was afraid but he came back to police station n couldn't get guaranter so he has to stay in the police station due to weekend they hve promised to release him on Sunday but right now they hve taken finger prints of him is tht alright ????

Anonymous said...

hello sir, i have a question., i was involve by a car accident 3 days ago and my car is total wreck luckily i am alive with a spine injury.. the person who hit me is an expat also with no drivers license and no insurance because he is under age and now he is in jail. after the investigation the fault is 100% on him.

My car is new it has been with me for just 1 year and 2 months., what i would like to know is what will be the stand of the insurance company and the Kia company? are they going to replace it with a new car? are they going to provide a temporary car replacement while my issue is on process?

what are the important steps i need to do and process? as of now i am still in hospital because of my spinal treatment and i am planning to go to the moroor office after 2 days to complete the documents so i can submit it in Kia office..

please help me and any advise will be much appreciated.

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

Thank God that you are still alive to write this. I hope you have a valid insurance. If so, they will take care of the rest. You are unlikely to get the full value of your car. For the moment, concentrate on getting well and back to normalcy. If you need a detailed guidance, please fill in the form using the link in the top right corner of this blog. I charge a nominal fee for my consultancy, which would get you a detailed, personalized and confidential reply by email.

Anonymous said...

thank you very much sir, you are a big help for people like us who is in need of proper guidance..

Anonymous said...

Sir I know you are expatguru but plz try to help expat without charging them for the sake of humanity. don't make business all time some people need your suggestion very badly

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

If you genuinely cannot afford to pay me, I will certainly help on case to case basis. But your approach is wrong.
Let us say you fall sick and go to a doctor. There are two ways of approaching him. First way is to tell him that you cannot afford his fees and request him to treat you free of cost. It is then up to the doctor to either treat you free or ask you to go somewhere else. The second way is to tell the doctor "I am sick, but you should not be a businessman and charge me. You should do a free service for the sake of humanity". This is exactly what you are saying.

Sorry Sir, I am not here to do a free service to humanity. My fee is for the time I spend on you, otherwise my Inbox is full of spam with hundreds of mails each day. But as I said before, if you are in really big trouble and cannot afford to pay me, I will certainly not charge a single halalah. But please do not accuse me of being money-minded - that is hypocrisy, because all of us came to Saudi to make money, not to do free service.