Claiming on accidents I did not cause
When it comes to car insurance claims, one of the most critical questions is who caused the accident.
That’s because the at-fault driver (or their insurer, who indemnifies them) is required to pay the costs of the accident.
These costs can include towing, repair or replacement of your car, hire-car costs, and lost wages or profits for income-earning cars.
Following an accident
If you're in an accident, follow these steps:
- If anyone is injured or killed or there is serious damage or danger, call 000.
- Get the details of any other drivers involved, including their names and addresses, vehicle registration numbers, and insurance details; if anyone refuses, or they appear to be impaired by drugs or alcohol, call the police.
- Ask any witnesses for their names and contact details.
- If it’s practical and safe to do so, take photos of the accident scene.
- Do not admit liability: That will be determined in due course.
- Make a claim
After you've claimed
If your car is comprehensively insured and once you’ve lodged your claim, we’ll deal with the at-fault driver’s insurer (or, if they’re uninsured, the at-fault driver themselves) on your behalf.
Whereas uninsured drivers are required to do a lot of the work themselves when claiming against another driver’s insurance, you won’t have to do much at all.
Another example of your insurance premium working for you.
How fault is determined
Short of a driver admitting liability, insurers rely on evidence – photos, dashcam footage, independent eyewitness accounts, physical proof, the Australian Road Rules, police reports, etc. – to determine who caused a car accident.
Figuring out who’s to blame can be straightforward: If someone rear-ends your car, for example, they generally will be deemed to be at fault.
In other scenarios the at-fault driver is less obvious and sometimes more than one driver can be in the wrong.
Less common are ‘inevitable accidents’, in which drivers lose control of their vehicle due to medical reasons (e.g. heart attack, hypoglycaemic blackout).
This may enable the driver (or their insurer) to deny liability.
Do I have to pay an excess?
If the accident was not your fault, you will not have to pay any excesses – as long as:
- we decide the driver of another vehicle, or another person, was entirely at fault, and
- you tell us their full name, address, and vehicle registration.
Will I get a replacement car to drive while mine is being fixed?
Yes – if your car is comprehensively insured and the accident was not your fault, we’ll arrange a complimentary hire car for you to drive while yours is being fixed.
The hire car will be a compact car.
Will my no-claim discount be affected?
No – if the accident was not your fault, your no-claim discount will not be affected.
What if there's a dispute
If there’s a dispute over who caused the accident, we may ask you for some more details about what happened.
We will, on your behalf, try to resolve the dispute with the third party’s insurer (or the third party themselves).
Most contested claims are settled out of court; in the unlikely event a customer’s claim goes to court, we may ask them to testify (we’ll pay the court costs).
What if the damage to my car is only minor?
Regardless of blame, if the damage to your car and the other person’s car is only minor, it’s up to the pair of you to decide whether to lodge a claim with your respective insurers.
Note that, even if you are not at fault and make a claim, and your damage bill is lower than your excess/es, you’ll still have to pay the excess. In other words, it would not make sense to claim.
Unsure about whether to claim? Contact us and we’ll help you make an informed decision.
I’ve been contacted by the other driver – what should I do?
Picture this: You and another driver reverse into one another in a car park. The damage would cost less than your excess/es to fix, so you both agree to take it no further.
Be aware, though, that it might not be the end of the story: Out of the blue, the other party may lodge a claim for thousands of dollars in damages.
If this happens to you – if the other party sends you a letter of demand or you receive a court-issued statement of claim – contact us immediately and we’ll handle it for you.
What if the other driver is uninsured?
If the at-fault driver is uninsured, we’ll pay your repair and other costs (e.g. towing, hire car) and then try to recover them from the other party.
In other words, you won’t be disadvantaged by the other driver’s lack of cover.
What if the car accident was partly my fault?
Sometimes two (or more) parties can share responsibility for a car accident.
For instance, if you and another driver hit each other while simultaneously changing lanes on a multi-lane highway, both of you may be deemed negligent.
Determining the extent of ‘contributory negligence’ is subjective and dependent on the evidence.
In these cases and assuming your car is comprehensively insured, we’ll negotiate with the third party’s insurer (or, if they’re uninsured, the third party themselves) to arrive at a mutually satisfactory percentage-of-fault split (e.g. 50:50).
The claims costs are then apportioned accordingly (you’ll also need to pay the applicable excess/es).
In the unlikely event these negotiations fail and the matter goes to court, the percentage-of-fault split will determined by a judge.
What if the car accident was completely my fault?
That’s OK – accidents happen.
Simply lodge your claim, pay the applicable excess/es, and we’ll settle the claim with the other party’s insurer (or, if they’re uninsured, the other party).
Note that, unless you have NCD Protection, your no-claim discount will be reduced on renewal of your policy.
My car’s been damaged in an accident caused by a Budget Direct policyholder – what happens now?
When you report the incident to us, we’ll arrange for your car’s damage to be assessed.
On acceptance of your claim, we’ll authorise the repairs or pay you a cash settlement.
Throughout the claims settlement process, you can expect to receive the same level of service we give our own customers.
What if I’m injured or killed?
If you’re injured or killed in an accident that was not your fault, you or your ‘legal personal representative’ (e.g. next of kin) can claim compensation from the at-fault driver’s compulsory third party (CTP) insurer.