7 Secrets to Successful Car Insurance Claims

Monday, 10 November 2014
14,000 cars are stolen in Australia every three months, 30,000 people are seriously injured each year from road accidents, and over 1 in 5 drivers and riders killed on Australian roads have a Blood Alcohol Concentration exceeding the legal limit.

With these harsh statistics in mind  and just over 6 weeks until Christmas and the party season commences, insurance comparison compareinsurance.com.au explains why it is more important than ever for Australian drivers to know the ins and outs of their car insurance policy.

Here are seven secrets to successful claims, so Aussie drivers don’t find themselves off the roads and out of pocket!

Natalie Ball, Director, Compareinsurance.com.au says:

“What many Australians fail to realise is that all car insurers have exclusions and conditions to their cover.

“It is important to check what the exemptions are. These will be clearly stated in the policy document. For example if you leave your vehicle unattended and unlocked, you wouldn’t be covered if it was stolen.”

“The majority of denied claims are because they fall outside of insurance coverage which customers were just not aware of. We urge customers to read their policy documents so they understand their cover.”

“Hopefully the majority of us won’t have to claim on our insurance. However, if you find yourself in a situation where you need to make a claim, it’s important to know what steps to take to ensure a successful and smooth payout.”

7 secrets to successful car insurance claims

1. Report the accident as soon as it happens
Any incident you’re involved in must be notified to your insurer asap. Insurance companies have a certain window during which you are required to inform them. If you leave it too long you might not be able to claim. If your car has been damaged or vandalised, you should report it to the police immediately too.

2. Get proof
If you’re in an accident, or you’ve experienced a theft, make sure you have evidence. Claims tend to involve heaps of paperwork which you’ll need to provide to the insurance company. This might include proof of ownership and value of the car, all regular drivers’ history* and accurate account of the incident. Providing photos at the scene is a good way to provide photographic evidence. The more you provide, the quicker your claim will be managed.

3. Do not admit fault
Accidents happen very quickly and can be traumatic. It can be difficult to immediately determine what happened. Avoid discussing who was to blame. There is a process for determining fault and its best left to the experts to figure out.

4. Repairs
Don’t take your car to your local mechanic to be fixed without getting the nod of approval first. Often car insurers have preferred companies that they work with so that claims are processed faster. If you do decide to use your local mechanic make sure you tell your insurer first… or you might not get your money back.

5. Your duty of disclosure
You must always keep your insurer up to date with any changes to your circumstances that are relevant to your car insurance. So, if you modify your car to make it go faster, or if you move house (and your car is now parked on the road instead of in a garage) your insurer needs to know. 
If you’re involved in an accident, or if you’ve had a driving offence, you must notify your insurer as soon as possible.  At all times you have a duty to disclose all applicable information regarding the insured drivers and any incidents which may lead to claims.

6. Insurance doesn’t cover for recklessness
It might sound obvious, but you wouldn’t be able to claim if an accident was caused due to speeding or any form of breaking the law such as drink driving. Similarly if you were driving your car and it wasn’t in a roadworthy condition, your insurance company could refuse your claim. 

7. Understand what you’re not covered for to avoid disappointment down the track
It’s not a secret. Each insurer does explain what they will and won’t cover in their policy documentation known as a Product Disclosure Statement. It’s always a good idea to read it and understand any exclusions, so that you can avoid any disappointments later.

When to claim on your car insurance?

When it comes to claiming on your car insurance, bear in mind that you may have to pay an excess, particularly if the incident was your fault. 
Depending on how severe your accident is, and how much it will cost to fix, you may decide that it isn’t worth claiming as the cost of repair may be less (or similar) to your excess. 

Payment of an excess helps to reduce the number of small claims for insurers and therefore keeps down the price of insurance premiums.
You should also consider if making a claim could impact the cost of your premiums going up. You might decide that you’d prefer not to claim and keep your no-claims-discounts instead.

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