B-139644, JUL. 16, 1959

B-139644: Jul 16, 1959

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THE BULLETIN STATES: "WE HAVE BEEN INFORMED THAT IT IS POSSIBLE FOR YOU TO OBTAIN A RIDER TO YOUR AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE POLICY WHICH WILL COVER YOU WHILE DRIVING A CAR OTHER THAN THAT INSURED UNDER YOUR POLICY. INFORMATION INDICATES THAT THIS RIDER WILL BE AN INEXPENSIVE PROTECTION FOR YOU IN CASE OF AN ACCIDENT WHEN DRIVING. "IT IS SUGGESTED THAT YOU CONTACT YOUR LOCAL INSURANCE REPRESENTATIVE IN ORDER TO ASCERTAIN THE COVERAGE OFFERED BY HIM AND THE COST OF SUCH COVERAGE.'. GOVERNMENT-OWNED" VEHICLES ARE REQUIRED TO MEET LOCAL REQUIREMENTS FOR LIABILITY INSURANCE AND TO POSSESS VALID CANAL ZONE AND VALID PANAMA DRIVING LICENSES.'. IT FURTHER APPEARS THE ADDITIONAL INSURANCE OBTAINED WAS NOT FOR THE PROTECTION OF THE GOVERNMENT BUT DR.

B-139644, JUL. 16, 1959

TO MR. EDMUND L. CARTER, AUTHORIZED CERTIFYING OFFICER, UNITED STATES OPERATIONS MISSION TO PANAMA:

YOUR LETTER OF APRIL 18, 1959, REQUESTS OUR DECISION UPON THE PROPRIETY OF PAYING AN INSURANCE PREMIUM CLAIM SUBMITTED BY DR. JAMES G. TOWNSEND, AN EMPLOYEE OF THE INTERNATIONAL CORPORATION ADMINISTRATION WITH THE UNITED STATES OPERATIONS MISSION TO PANAMA.

DR. TOWNSEND SEEKS REIMBURSEMENT OF THE EXPENSES HE INCURRED, IN THE AMOUNT OF $13.60, TO EXTEND THE COVERAGE OF HIS PERSONAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE TO INCLUDE PROTECTION AGAINST LIABILITY FOR PROPERTY DAMAGE WHILE OPERATING A GOVERNMENT-OWNED (ICA) VEHICLE ASSIGNED TO HIM. STATES HE PURCHASED THE ADDITIONAL INSURANCE COVERAGE IN COMPLIANCE WITH THE MISSION'S POLICY SET FORTH IN A BULLETIN OF JUNE 8, 1955, ENTITLED "MISSION INFORMATION NO. 6.' THE BULLETIN STATES:

"WE HAVE BEEN INFORMED THAT IT IS POSSIBLE FOR YOU TO OBTAIN A RIDER TO YOUR AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE POLICY WHICH WILL COVER YOU WHILE DRIVING A CAR OTHER THAN THAT INSURED UNDER YOUR POLICY. INFORMATION INDICATES THAT THIS RIDER WILL BE AN INEXPENSIVE PROTECTION FOR YOU IN CASE OF AN ACCIDENT WHEN DRIVING, FOR EXAMPLE, A SERVICIO OR AN INSTITUTE CAR.

"IT IS SUGGESTED THAT YOU CONTACT YOUR LOCAL INSURANCE REPRESENTATIVE IN ORDER TO ASCERTAIN THE COVERAGE OFFERED BY HIM AND THE COST OF SUCH COVERAGE.'

IN CONNECTION WITH THIS CLAIM YOU REFER TO THE MISSION'S REGULATIONS REGARDING THE USE OF GOVERNMENT-OWNED VEHICLES. THEY PROVIDE, IN PART: "ALL ICA EMPLOYEES DESIGNATED TO DRIVE ,GOVERNMENT-OWNED" VEHICLES ARE REQUIRED TO MEET LOCAL REQUIREMENTS FOR LIABILITY INSURANCE AND TO POSSESS VALID CANAL ZONE AND VALID PANAMA DRIVING LICENSES.' YOU ALSO INVITE OUR ATTENTION TO THE GOVERNMENT OF PANAMA LAW NO. 159, SEPTEMBER 19, 1941, WHICH, AS TRANSLATED, STATES: "ALL VEHICLES MOVED BY MECHANICAL FORCE MUST BE INSURED WITH POLICIES AGAINST DAMAGE TO OTHER PERTY.'

IT APPEARS THE GOVERNMENT-OWNED VEHICLE ASSIGNED TO DR. TOWNSEND HAS NOT BEEN COMMERCIALLY INSURED, AND AS TO IT THE GOVERNMENT, IN KEEPING WITH LONG ESTABLISHED POLICY, HAS ASSUMED ITS OWN RISKS. SEE 13 COMP. DEC. 779; 4 COMP. GEN. 690; 19 ID. 798; 35 ID. 391. SEE, ALSO, IGA MANUAL 351.1,"TORT CLAIMS.' IT FURTHER APPEARS THE ADDITIONAL INSURANCE OBTAINED WAS NOT FOR THE PROTECTION OF THE GOVERNMENT BUT DR. TOWNSEND.

EVEN IF THE PANAMANIAN LAW PREVIOUSLY REFERRED TO WAS INTENDED TO APPLY TO VEHICLES OF A FOREIGN SOVEREIGN, AND THE ICA IN ACCORDANCE WITH ITS POLICY SET FORTH IN ICATO A-466 OF APRIL 5, 1956, REFERRED TO IN YOUR LETTER, WOULD ORDINARILY IN COMPLIANCE WITH LOCAL LAW OBTAIN INSURANCE UPON ITS VEHICLES, THE RIGHT OF DR. TOWNSEND TO REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE PERSONAL INSURANCE OBTAINED IS NOT THEREBY DETERMINED. NOR DOES THE RIGHT TO REIMBURSEMENT TURN UPON THE QUESTION OF WHETHER DR. TOWNSEND WAS REQUIRED BY PANAMANIAN LAW OR THE MISSION'S REGULATIONS OR INFORMATION BULLETIN TO OBTAIN THE PERSONAL INSURANCE; BUT, RATHER, ASIDE FROM ANY QUESTION OF THE MISSION'S AUTHORITY TO AUTHORIZE REIMBURSEMENT, UPON WHETHER THE REGULATIONS OR INFORMATION BULLETIN CAN BE CONSIDERED AS CONTEMPLATING REIMBURSEMENT OF THE PERSONAL INSURANCE EXPENSE.

THE COST OF PERSONAL LIABILITY INSURANCE IS THROUGHOUT THE GOVERNMENT GENERALLY CONSIDERED A PERSONAL EXPENSE OF THE OPERATOR OF A GOVERNMENT VEHICLE. SEE B-123196, DECEMBER 16, 1955, TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE. THE MISSION'S REGULATIONS AND INFORMATION BULLETIN DO NOT PROVIDE FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF THAT EXPENSE; NOR DO THEY AUTHORIZE THE OBLIGATION OF PUBLIC FUNDS THEREFOR. THEY DO HOWEVER, AS WE READ THE REGULATIONS AND INFORMATION BULLETIN, REFLECT THE GENERALLY ACCEPTED POINT OF VIEW THAT THE COST OF INSURANCE COVERING THE INDIVIDUAL LIABILITY OF AN OPERATOR OF A GOVERNMENT VEHICLE IS A PERSONAL EXPENSE OF THE OPERATOR.

THE CLAIM OF DR. TOWNSEND, AND THE SIMILAR CLAIMS REFERRED TO IN YOUR LETTER, ARE THEREFORE DEEMED NOT FOR PAYMENT.