I’ve had a car accident – what should I do?
If you’ve had an accident, and assuming you’re physically able to, you should:
- Make sure you and anyone else involved is safely off the road.
- Call 000 if there are injuries or hazards.
- Get the details of the other drivers — name, address, contact number, vehicle owner (if they don’t own it) and registration number — and give them yours (it’s a legal requirement; if anyone refuses, call the police).
- Try to get the names, addresses, and contact numbers of any witnesses.
- If it’s safe to do so, take photographs at the accident scene.
- If your vehicle is undriveable, call us on 1300 885 996 to organise a tow or, if you prefer, book your own.
- Make a claim
What if someone blames me for causing an accident that was their fault?
If another driver accuses you of causing an accident you believe was their fault, tell them you’re going to leave it to the insurance companies to sort out.
When you lodge your claim with Budget Direct, we’ll contact the other driver’s insurer.
Between us, we’ll determine who was at fault, based on the evidence.
This can include photos, dashcam footage, independent eyewitness accounts, physical proof, the Australian Road Rules, police reports, etc.
If the car accident was my fault, should I admit it to the other driver?
No — even though you think the accident was completely your fault, that may not necessarily be the case.
Perhaps the other driver, unbeknownst to you, broke a road rule and that breach contributed to the accident?
So, it’s best not to admit liability and to let us work with the other driver’s insurer to determine which driver was at fault.
(Sometimes two or more drivers can share responsibility for a car accident.)
What should I do if the other driver refuses to give me their details at the accident scene?
By law, drivers involved in car accidents must exchange their details (i.e. name, address, contact number, vehicle owner — if they don’t own it — and registration number).
If you’re in an accident — even a minor one — and the other driver refuses or fails to provide their details, call the police. They’ll follow it up.
Do I have to call the police to report a minor accident?
Police forces around Australia typically do not require you to report minor accidents to them.
Minor accidents are generally those in which:
- no one is injured
- the vehicles are still driveable (i.e. they do not need to be towed)
- no other motorists are endangered (e.g. by spilt fuel or fallen power lines).
For more information, contact your state or territory police force.
Can you arrange for my vehicle to be towed?
Yes — if your comprehensively insured car is undriveable, we can arrange for it to be towed from the accident scene to the tow company’s yard and, in turn, to our motor-vehicle assessors and repairers.
If you have Third Party Property, Fire and Theft cover, we can arrange a tow if your vehicle is burnt or found after being stolen.
My car’s been damaged in an accident caused by a Budget Direct customer — 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 process, you can expect to receive the same level of service we give our own customers.
Should I make a car insurance claim or not?
It’s entirely up to you whether to claim on your car insurance policy. Your decision will likely depend on:
- who or what caused the damage
- cost to repair the damage
- size of your excess/es.
You may find the scenarios in the following table helpful in guiding your decision:
Would it make sense to claim?
|You accidentally reverse your car into a pole. The damage bill is $500 and your Basic Excess is $600.||No — the repair cost is $100 less than your excess.|
Someone else reverses into your parked car, causing $500 damage. They leave a note giving their details.1
|Yes — you don’t have to pay an excess and the other driver’s insurer pays your repair bill.|
|You fail to stop at a T-junction and run into the side of another car. The damage bill for both cars is $10,000 and your excess is $600.||Yes — the repair cost is $9,400 more than your excess.|
|Your 17-year-old learner-driver child smashes into a kerb. The damage bill is $1,500 and your Basic Excess is $600.||No — due to your child’s age and limited driving experience, you’d have to pay not only your Basic Excess but additional excesses too. The excesses would be more than your repair bill.2|
How do I make a car insurance claim?
If your car’s been damaged or stolen and you need to make a claim, we’re here to help get you back on the road as quickly and smoothly as possible.
What is an at-fault car insurance claim?
Budget Direct defines an ‘at-fault claim’ as any claim that cannot be recovered from another party, either in part or in full, such as:
- an accident where we decide the driver of the Budget Direct-insured car is partially or entirely at fault
- an accident where we decide the driver of the other vehicle or another person is entirely at fault but you cannot tell us their full name, residential address and vehicle registration number
- theft, attempted, theft or a malicious act
- storm, wind or hail
- an accident involving an animal.
If you make an at-fault claim, you’ll need to pay the applicable excess/es; and your no-claim discount (NCD) will be reduced by two years (unless you have NCD Protection).
Note that your discount is not affected by claims arising from storm, wind or hail damage (even if you don’t have NCD Protection).
Is there a time limit for making a car insurance claim?
You must notify us immediately of any incident involving your car that may lead to a claim.
It’s also advisable to formally lodge your claim as soon as possible, to avoid any complications a delay might cause.
Any theft or malicious damage to your car must be reported to the police straight away. They’ll give you a reference number, which you’ll need to give us when you claim.
Can I make an insurance claim if the accident was my fault?
Yes — accidents happen.
Simply lodge your claim. Once your claim has been accepted, pay the applicable excess/es. We’ll then settle the claim with the other driver’s insurer (or, if they’re uninsured, the other driver).
Unless you have NCD Protection, your no-claim discount will be reduced by two years on renewal of your policy.
Should I contact my insurance company if I’m in an accident that was not my fault?
Yes — Budget Direct requires its customers to notify it immediately of any incident involving their car that may lead to a claim, including accidents they did not cause. (This requirement applies even if they do not end up making a claim.)
What happens if I make a car insurance claim for an accident that was not my fault?
If we decide the accident was not your fault, we’ll arrange for your car’s damage to be assessed and repaired.
If you tell us the full name, residential address and vehicle registration number of the at- fault driver or person, you won’t have to pay an excess.
We’ll provide you with a complimentary hire car to drive while yours is being repaired, up to 14 days.
We’ll then recover the repair costs from the other driver’s insurer.
Can I make an insurance claim for car dents?
Car insurance is designed to cover the cost of repairing damage to your car, including dents.
The main thing to consider is whether an excess is payable on a claim; and, if so, how your excess compares to the repair quote.
If someone rams a shopping trolley into your car and the cost of repairing the dent is lower than your excess, it would not make sense to claim.
However, if your car’s panels are dimpled by hail, it’s likely the cost of repairing the dents will be higher than your excess. In this instance, it would make sense to claim.
Note that if you make a claim for dents your car has accumulated over time, an excess will be payable for each incident that dented your car.
What documents do I need to provide when making a car insurance claim?
When you make a claim on your Budget Direct car insurance, you won’t have to fill in any physical forms (it’s all done online or over the phone).
On rare occasions, we may ask you to provide us with certain documents (e.g. your driving history).
Can I make a car insurance claim without a police report?
You must give Budget Direct a copy of a police report (or report reference number) when lodging a car insurance claim for:
- malicious damage
- an accident in which another driver failed to exchange details
- accidents caused by an uninsured driver (applies only to Third Party Property Only and Third Party Property, Fire and Theft policyholders).
For all other claims, a police report is not required.
Can I lodge a claim with the other, at-fault driver’s insurance company?
If you’re a Budget Direct customer and someone else causes damage to your car, there’s no need for you to lodge a claim with their insurer.
Just contact us and we’ll take care of everything for you, saving you time and hassle.
We’ll arrange for your car’s damage to be assessed and repaired.
If it’s confirmed the other driver was at entirely at fault and you can tell us their full name, residential address and vehicle registration number, you won’t have to pay an excess.
We’ll provide you with a complimentary hire car, up to 14 days.
Will I ever need to communicate with the other driver’s insurer?
When claiming on your Budget Direct car insurance, you’ll seldom, if ever, be required to communicate with the other driver’s insurer.
We can deal with the other driver’s insurer on your behalf, saving you time and hassle.
If you receive correspondence (e.g. a letter of demand) from the other driver or their insurer, do not reply. Contact us and we’ll handle the matter for you.
If I make a claim, will I lose my no-claim bonus?
If you make a claim, it’s effect on your no-discount discount (NCD) will depend on whether it’s an at-fault claim or a no-fault one.
If it’s an at-fault claim, your discount will be reduced by two years on renewal of your policy (unless you have NCD Protection).
For example, if you had a Rating 1 (maximum no-claim discount) and you made one at-fault claim in a given year, your rating would drop to 3.
This means the discount on your Budget Direct Comprehensive Car Insurance premium would fall from 15% (Rating 1) to 9% (Rating 3).
If it’s a no-fault claim, your discount will not be affected.
Which driver is at fault in a rear-end car accident?
Typically, the driver who rear ends the car in front is presumed to be at fault.
That’s because the tailing driver is expected to leave enough distance between them and the car in front to avoid a collision if it suddenly and unexpectedly slows down or stops.
The drivers’ insurers will consider all the evidence — including any dash cam footage — before determining liability.
Which driver is at fault if a car side-swipes another?
Side-swipe accidents typically involve two cars hitting each other while travelling in the same direction on a multi-lane highway or motorway.
They’re often the result of drivers failing to check their blind spots before changing lanes; or becoming distracted and drifting into another lane.
The drivers’ insurers will consider all the evidence — including any dash cam footage —before determining liability.
They may decide one of the drivers is liable or that both drivers contributed to the accident.
What if someone hits my parked car and takes off without leaving a note?
First the good news: If you have comprehensive insurance your car is covered for the cost of repairing damage caused by a hit-and-run driver.
Now for the bad news: Unfortunately, unless you can give us the full name, residential address and vehicle registration number of the other driver, it will be treated as an at-fault accident.
This means you’ll be required to pay the applicable excesses; and your no-claim discount will be reduced by two years (unless you have NCD Protection).
(It will be recorded as a no-fault claim in your claims history.)
How long does it take to get a decision on a car insurance claim?
How do I complain about an insurer’s decision to deny my car insurance claim?
If you’re unhappy with any of your car insurer’s decisions or actions — including a denied claim — you can complain.
Budget Direct’s complaints process is as follows:
Step 1: Speak to us
Raise your complaint with one of our team members; we’ll try to resolve it immediately.
Step 2: Contact our Internal Dispute Resolution team
If you’re dissatisfied with our response, we’ll treat your complaint as a dispute and refer it to our Internal Dispute Resolution (IDR) team for review.
Step 3: Seek an external review of our decision
If your unhappy with our IDR team’s decision, you can complain to the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA). What to do before you complain to AFCA
Find out more about how to complain to Budget Direct.
What if my stolen car is not found?
If your stolen vehicle is not found, we’ll pay you the amount for which your car is covered.
What if my stolen car is found but is damaged?
If your stolen vehicle is found and the damage bill is greater than your excess, we’ll either pay for it to be repaired, or write it off and pay you the amount for which your car is covered.
Will my car insurance premium increase after a claim?
If you make a claim, your car insurance premium may increase, depending on the circumstances.
For example, if you cause an accident it’s likely your Budget Direct insurance premium will increase to reflect your higher risk rating.
On the other hand, if your car is damaged by a storm and you make a claim, your premium will not be affected by the claim.
Do no-fault accident claims go on your car insurance record?
Yes — all car insurance claims, including no-fault ones — are recorded in your claims history.
How long do my car insurance claims remain on record?
Your car insurance claims are held on your ‘My Insurance Claims Report’ for 10 years.
These include withdrawn, denied and cancelled claims for which you received no payment.
For more information about the report, including how to order one, visit the Insurance Reference Services website.