Vehicle Insurance in Japan

General information on taking out an insurance policy in Japan, with comprehensive details on insuring a vehicle (options from third party to all risks) and making a claim...

Types of Insurance

Automobile liability insurance: By law, everyone who drives a vehicle in Japan has to have compulsory insurance (also called automobile liability insurance). This type of insurance is only applicable when an insured driver causes death or injury, and compensation is only awarded up to a fixed amount. Sometimes this amount does not cover large sums of compensation, and therefore it is advisable for drivers to have optional insurance coverage as well.

Optional insurance: This type of insurance covers property damage for third parties (caused by an accident) and vehicle damage (from fire and theft). Personal damages are also covered, as with compulsory insurance, but to a higher maximum.

Insurance Claims

It is recommended to go to hospital if injured in any way and obtain a medical certificate. The medical certificate is necessary in order to charge medical expenses to the person who caused the accident and their insurance company.

If injured, it is possible to claim compensation from the automobile liability insurance and/or optional insurance held by the person who caused the accident.

Types of compensation that can be claimed by a victim of a traffic accident are:

  • Economic damages - out of pocket expenses and loss of earnings
  • Non-economic damages - mental or physical suffering

If involved in an accident with an uninsured driver, it is not possible to get compensation from the Compulsory Insurance Scheme. However, it is still possible to receive payment from the Government's Automobile Liability Compensation business programme. Police or local government traffic accident advisors can give details about this programme.

  • For information about types of insurance coverage and compensation: Click here

The accident report

No matter how small the incident, the police must be called so that they can file an accident report (Tel: 110). If the accident is not reported to the police, the driver cannot get a Traffic Accident Certificate which is required for any insurance claim. It is important to check the police case number allocated to the accident and the name of the police station which is dealing with the incident.

Notify the insurer

It is important to notify the insurance company at the scene of the accident or as soon as possible after the accident. Failure to do this may affect eligibility in making a claim. Insurance companies often give advice to help drivers after an accident and can also negotiate on their behalf.

To make a claim, it is necessary to submit the Traffic Accident Certificate, which is available from the Japan Safe Driving Centre located in the district where the accident took place.

Penalties

Anyone who causes a traffic accident and is shown to have committed a traffic offence may incur penalties, such as the loss or suspension of the driving licence, and other penalties, such as fines. Japanese authorities take traffic accidents very seriously and impose penalties according to the degree of responsibility of the driver when injury or death has been caused to a third party.