The ECOWAS Brown Card Insurance Scheme was established by Protocol A/P1/5/82
signed by the Head of States and Governments of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), on 29th may 1982 in Cotonou, People’s Republic of Benin.
The main objective of the Scheme is to ensure prompt and fair compensation to the victims of road accidents for the damages caused them by non residing motorists travelling from other ECOWAS member States to their country. In Europe, Green Card is a similar scheme implemented in 1953.
The ECOWAS Brown Card Scheme operates through a 14 (fourteen) National Bureaux network spread throughout the fourteen Member States. Each National Bureau plays two (2) major roles.
- To ensure Brown Card availability for local motorists: National Bureau operates therefore as an Issuing Bureau.
- To conduct investigation and settle claims arising from an accident caused by motorist holders of Brown Card. It then acts as a Handling Bureau.
The objectives of Brown Card are summarized in nine (9) points below:
- To facilitate free movement for international motorists within the community
- To enable international carriers to comply with motor vehicles insurance requirements in force in the community member countries,
- To enhance the development of trade and tourism exchanges among states
- To establish a common scheme for the settlement of claims arising from free movement of goods and persons within ECOWAS;
- To offer to ECOWAS Insurance market the means to develop international links and exchanges
- 14 countries have ratified the Protocol and are making Brown Card available to their nationals
- ECOWAS Council of Ministers has established a Permanent General Secretariat to monitor protocol implementation.
- The Council holds its annual meeting every year
- A headquarters agreement has been signed on 18th May 1998 between the Secretariat of Council and Togo.
Based on what is said above, it appears that motorists have a psychological freedom which sets them free from fears that may assail them in case of accident in a country different from their country of residence. In other words, motorists can now move freer within the sub-region.
Thus, first of all, holding a brown card provides full cover to motorist for a prompt, fair and immediate settlement for accident that they may have caused outside their usual country.
Second, the motorist bearer of the Card is as well treated as if the basic insurance policy were underwritten with a company operating in the country visited by the motorist or through which he/she is transiting.
Three, in view that Brown Card is recognized by the government officials, the motorist is released from any other formalities regarding cover against any risk of third party liability.