World Traffic

Auto insurance is commonplace: everyone needs it, most people have it, but not everyone talks about it. So it’s always a kick whenever the topic turns up in unlikely places.

Check out our previous articles on those unlikely places, when we touch on some oddball stories and [on television and in video games].

In this entry, a review of recent topics that’ll take you across the globe as we talk Yakuza, ghosts, Greeks, and auto insurance.

Armed with Nonrenewal Clauses, Japanese Car Insurers Step into Mob Fight

An insurer nixes your policy, and tucked away in its notice are the typical euphemisms: Contract nonrenewal. Coverage exclusion. Coverage exclusion leading to contract nonrenewal.

In Japan, Yakuza mobsters have their own tidy euphemism—“anti-social elements”—as the notorious gangland-ers start getting auto coverage cancellation notices en masse.

The Yakuza are feeling the sting from a December 2012 clause that the General Insurance Association of Japan crafted to “expel gangsters from the insurance business,” [according to Asahi Shimbun]. What followed were similar clauses at other insurance companies and groups prohibiting Yakuza from [buying auto insurance].

Aioi Nissay Dowa, a car insurer, introduced its prohibition last month, and many companies’ cancellation letters state nonrenewals are on the grounds of the policyholder being an “anti-social element.”

One Yakuza mobster said he’ll attempt to duck the prohibition by listing his daughter under his car’s policy. Until then, he said he’ll have “subordinates” drive him, though being chauffeured isn’t as fun when there are rules.

“I am telling them to slow down so they won’t cause accidents,” he said. “If my car hits a person, I cannot pay compensation.”

Insurers are following the lead of financial institutions in Japan, where bankers and investment groups began introducing gangster exclusion clauses in contracts years ago. But they are “far from foolproof,” according to the publication.

This month, the nation’s biggest banks have admitted to extending “direct loans” to gangsters.

U.K. Video Recruits Britons to Ghostbust Brokers

Ghosts are haunting Britons this holiday season, but these ghosts aren’t from some Dickensian past.

The new wave of car insurance scams in the U.K. is the “ghost broker,” unseemly criminals who set up bogus websites that reel in unknowing customers. A case recently ended with a three-year sentence for a ghost broker who reportedly “duped 600 drivers into buying worthless policies over the telephone,” according to the British online publication Insurance Age.

The problem is so common across the U.K. that national authorities recently released a PSA video warning drivers against the ghostly buys.

Bringing the message home is a South Park-looking cartoon skit complete with the common misfit lineup that befits a fake broker trying to sell fake policies: a wrestler trying to be a masseuse; an owl trying to be a bikini pinup; a llama trying to be a taxi.

Whoever said British humor is a bit off?

Insurance War in Greece Means More Covered Cars

More and more Greek drivers are getting the car insurance required to be behind the wheel there, and that means premiums are getting pushed downward.

Online publication ANSAmed reports that there were 400,000 more insured cars by the end of last month compared to December 2012.

And it’s the Olympic-worthy “fierce competition” among insurers that is bringing down prices. Though fewer companies are operating in the car insurance arena now than in 2008 (the number of car insurers dropped by 17 in just five years), that means those few companies left standing are chomping at the bit to best each other in pricing.

Also behind the bump in insured cars is a newly passed Greek law that fines uninsured drivers for lacking coverage, the publication said.