Misawa to keep tabs on drivers' insurance
MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — Air Force officials here are building a computerized database to track liability and Japanese compulsory insurance policies covering troops’ vehicles.
Capt. John Haynes, a Misawa spokesman, said the data is being compiled following a recent meeting with Misawa community leaders. Those leaders suggested some troops were operating vehicles without proper insurance.
“We had a number of minor POV accidents on and off base involving motorists with JCI and liability insurance not being up to date,” he said.
That deficiency was brought to the table during a semiannual Community Relations Advisory Committee held between the base and the city.
“This stuff can lapse, and people may not be aware of it,” Haynes said. “Some policies use Japanese dates, which are tough for our people to read, too.”
Haynes said many motorists rely on their insurance companies for reminders, but that doesn’t always happen.
Policies also are checked by base security forces during annual spring collection of Japanese road taxes.
“We thought of having a formal process in place to keep people honest, and to bring a concrete example of solving an issue the Japanese thought was important enough to bring up to us,” he said.
Taking advantage of a process already in place, Haynes said a database is being established similar to one that tracks annual Air Force cycle ergometry tests.
Information on troops was reported to unit orderly rooms, where data are entered into the database. Only Air Force active-duty motorists are required to be tracked.
If the concept is successful, it could become mandatory for DOD civilain employees and other service branches assigned to Misawa, Haynes said.
“It tracks both JCI and liability insurance, and the system generates a reminder when policies are due,” he added.
Haynes said the effort has garnered notice from the local Defense Facilities Administration Board office, a Japanese governmental entity that deals with U.S.-Japanese defense issues.
“They were surprised we were going to such great lengths on this particular issue, but they’re glad we feel so strongly about it,” he said.
Haynes said it will take about a year to determine the system’s success.
Takao Takeuchi, manager of an American International Underwriters insurance agency in Misawa, calls it “foolish” to drive in Japan without insurance.
“Medical fees and the costs of repairing a vehicle in Japan are very expensive. If you are not covered, there can never be a settlement,” he said. “If you don’t carry insurance, you are still responsible.”
How it works
Government-sponsored Japanese compulsory insurance covers legal liability for someone injured or killed in an accident caused by the insured driver or by a driver given permission to drive an insured vehicle.
JCI pays up to 1.2 million yen, or $10,178, for medical expenses, and 30 million yen, or $254,465, per person for each fatality or instance of total disability, according to literature from American International Underwriters.
Some court settlements, according to AIU data, have reached 100 million yen, or $848,757, and the company advises motorists to purchase additional coverage.
Japanese law assigns a comparative negligence rule involving vehicular accidents.
— Stars and Stripes