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Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2006

LIFELINES

Insurance snubs and damages


Insurance snub

My husband recently passed away. I have a three-year visa and a valid driver's license, but when I went to renew my insurance, I was told by the insurance company that they could not insure me because I was a foreigner.

I was outraged and told them I would report them. Is my reaction justified?

We have checked quite extensively into this and this appears to be what is happening.

The insurance companies we've checked with all say that you need to speak Japanese to be able to get insurance with them. It is, of course, illegal to deny based on race.

At the same time, there has been of late a switch away from what used to be a very vibrant market for the international community, with many companies now only providing information in Japanese.

It appears that to reduce costs and streamline things many companies are not providing non-Japanese language services anymore. They will argue it is a business decision and since the market for selling to non-Japanese speaking is so small it is not worth their effort.

Legally, it is a very fine line between discrimination and claiming that you only have Japanese speaking staff and so can only provide service in Japanese.

The solution according to the companies? If you can provide someone who can interpret for you, there should be no problem in getting insurance.

Once again we would like to hear from our readers. Have any others had this problem?

No insurance

My Japanese husband works as a delivery driver for a medium-sized company. The company has no insurance for its drivers. He had an accident this week in which the truck he was driving was totaled.

He fell asleep at the wheel after working 14-16 hour days, six days a week, but the company told him not tell the police. Thankfully he was unhurt but this also means he is not able to get workers compensation.

I think the company should pay everything because they failed to get insurance, but they say that my husband is responsible and will pay only part of the expense. The initial figure is 9 million yen.

Are there any laws covering this situation? Can they make him pay? We want him to quit but can they make us pay for everything? Isn't it illegal for them not to have insurance?

It is of, of course, illegal for them to not carry insurance for their drivers, and they are responsible for 100 percent of the costs if not additional payments to your husband.

Dont waste any more time and contact a lawyer. Any good lawyer will be happy in this kind of situation to allow you to pay his charges when you collect.

Contact the closest "bengoshikai" in your area at 104 or call Mr. Watanabe at (03) 3265-0051 and he will be happy to find a good lawyer in your area.

Ken Joseph Jr. directs The Japan Helpline at www.jhelp.com or (0570) 000-911

Send your queries, questions, problems and posers to lifelines@japantimes.co.jp


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