I think what has happened to me may be of interest and serve as a warning to all who have car insurance.
On Saturday, December 11 a motorbike ran into the back of my car – the bike, I may add, like many bikes on the road, did not appear roadworthy. The man suffered some road burn marks and cuts on his arm. The police and an ambulance were called.
The GNR policeman was kind and polite but on checking my paperwork, which I carry with me religiously, I was told that my insurance was not valid. I had received, from my insurance company, the usual paperwork to let me know that my insurance was due and that I had until December 21 to pay it. The policeman said I must go to the insurance company and collect a valid paper and present it at the police station.
First thing on Monday morning, I went to my insurance company and explained what had happened. They told me to pay my insurance and gave me my new cover, which I presented to the police and was told all was ok.
This week, I have received a fine from the police for not carrying the correct papers. When I queried this with my insurance company, they told me that my insurance was covered if I had an accident, because they give 30 days to clients even after the date the insurance is due.
What the insurance company fails to tell us is that legally we are not covered and, therefore, even if we have papers from the insurance company stating a date of payment, if stopped by the police, they do not make allowances for this fact and they will fine you.
I did point out to the insurance company that many of their clients are ‘estrangeiros’ and do not understand Portuguese. Therefore, I feel that these insurance reminders should state that, if stopped by the police during these 30 days, their insurance papers are invalid and they will receive a fine.
In other words, forget the 30 days and look at the date on your green insurance paper or your small insurance stamp on your windscreen and pay up by that date!