Car insurance claims

If you’re at fault at the time of a car accident, you may vocalise a few profanities, but at Mozo, we prefer to refer to such mishaps as silly scenarios.

Possible silly scenario:

Instead of leaving your phone sensibly in the boot of the car, you leave it on the passenger seat, you received a message, you look down to see who it’s from and before you know it the traffic ahead of you has stalled without you realising and it’s just too late to brake in time. Sound familiar?

Silly because, it’s a scenario that really could have been prevented. But isn’t it great you decided to purchase that comprehensive car insurance in the end? Sure the value of your car has depreciated a lot since you first bought it seven years ago, but not only is the other person's car covered under your insurance, but so is yours. New car anyone?

Is making a claim on your car insurance worth it?

Glad you asked. If your shopping trolley in the car park decided to dance with the wind on a gusty day, then kiss your car door as you’re unloading the trolley, you may decide to simply live with the minor ding. Especially if the excess is more expensive than the damage itself. But you know the silly scenario we discussed earlier? You may not have a choice to be honest. Let’s explore this further below.

I’m accident prone - help!

Inexperienced driver or bad driving history? Expect to pay more than the basic excess you were quoted when you first purchased your policy. What did you expect? If you’re deemed a risk on the road by your insurer, what does it say about your driving? If you cause accidents on a regular basis, with the amount of times you’ve paid excess, you may want to consider:

  • having a refresher course with a driving instructor
  • getting your eyes checked or
  • catching cabs here and there.

We’re not kidding!

What to expect when making a claim

So the unfortunate happened and you end up in a silly scenario or worse. If there’s damage caused to someone else’s car or property, provided you have some level of car insurance, you need to know that there’s a whole bunch of factors that are unavoidable. Here are some:

1. Excess If you’re at fault, you will need to pay excess. Whether you purchase third party property or comprehensive, your excess is an agreed amount you decide on at the time you purchase your car insurance. Remember: the lower the premium, the higher the excess. Pay a super high monthly premium and you may not even need to pay much of an excess, if at all. Great if you’re prone to regular silly accidents - but check with your insurer about what paying a high premium means for your personal situation.

2. Future premiums What’s one little mishap? Surely it won’t make too much of an impact on your premium. Well it will likely increase your premium, by anywhere between 5-20% or more. This means that if you make more than one claim in 12 months, your premium will go up again. Expect a massive chunk outta your pocket not only on the premium you pay but also excess cost. But it really depends on your insurer, so double check with them if uncertain.

3. No claim bonus Oops. That’s going to get affected. But if loyal with the one insurer, every year that you don’t claim builds up your no claim bonus handsomely again. Let’s face it, no claim bonus and high premiums is really just a way to curb the insurance claims on silly things that you could either ignore or save up and pay for yourself. But an accident that involves a third party? That’s when you’ll be absolutely thankful you have the right car insurance in your name.

I’ve never been in an accident. What should I expect?

Whether you’ve been in a collision before or not, it’s easy to get emotional, frazzled and be in a state of shock. Even if it’s a minor incident. There are many theories as to the psychological effect an accident has on you. Mozo tends to think it’s the unexpected that shakes you up a bit - after all, no one plans on colliding with another car. It’s purely unpredictable and as the word sums it up - an accident. Here are a few key actions to try and remember, should the unfortunate happen to you:

1. Is everyone ok? If someone needs medical assistance, call 000 immediately. If someone is seriously injured, call the police as well.

2. License Do you have your driver’s license handy? You shouldn’t be driving without it anyway! Get ready to exchange your personal details that are on your license with the other driver, as well as the names of your insurance companies. If you don’t have a piece of paper and pen handy, take a snapshot with your phone.

3. Number plate While you’re jotting down their personal details including the make, model and colour of their car and their contact number, write down their registration number as well. Or photograph it instead.

4. Damage Taking photos of the damage to their car is probably a good idea for safekeeping and help determine how the accident happened and who's at fault. You can take photos of damage to your vehicle later on.

5. What, when, how It’s a good idea to avoid talking about who caused the accident. There are experts by both parties that will come to a conclusion or an agreement. It could be that both parties will hold some responsibility and share the cost of the repairs. Not up to you or the other person to decide. What you should agree on is the time, date and location of the accident. Exchange details and part ways. Remember to take note of weather conditions, visibility, traffic conditions, road surface, street signs and speed limit.

6. Call your insurer Your insurance company is grounded and trained to deal with customers who are highly stressed after an accident. They are more than equipped to comfort and guide you with best next steps, so don’t go rushing into organising them yourself. If your car is too damaged to drive, they will organise a tow truck for you or give you a number of a company associated with your policy so that if you qualify, your expenses are covered or dealt with via your insurer.

Other important FAQs about car insurance claims

Do I need to use an approved repairer?
This will depend on your policy and insurer. Some car insurance providers will require you to use one of their approved mechanic or repairers. Only they are authorised to do the task and not Joe down the road.

However, if you do prefer your own mechanic or repairer to do the task and they are more conveniently closer to home, run it past your insurer if you can take it there. It doesn't hurt to ask and your personal mechanic or repairer, if qualified and approved probably knows your vehicle more than anyone, right?

Who do I deal with after an accident?

If you’ve been involved in an accident and you have filed a claim with your insurance company you should only deal with your insurer. Unfortunately it’s more common than not for some parties to send you a personal letter of demand, since they’ve got your address now. Stay firm and ignore paying this. Any car insurance claim is a matter between insurance parties or your insurance company and the third party and not a dollar should come out of your pocket to cover damages except for the excess you agreed on with your insurer when you first purchased your policy. Unless however your claim is deemed void. Read on to find out how.

When am I not covered by my insurance policy?
If you were found not only at fault of the accident but also under the influence of:

  • alcohol and over the legal limit
  • illicit drugs or medication that may alter your ability to drive
  • speeding, negligent driving or any other laws broken at time of the accident, you may be unable to make a car insurance claim.

But always double check with your insurer first. If you are at fault with any of these above factors listed, expect to pay big bucks.

But why take the risk? Some accidents where drugs and or alcohol is involved can cost in the tens of thousands, enough to make some people bankrupt or even take a life not to mention possible cause of serious or permanent injury. If you’re keen on your car, your pocket, your family and your life, always consider a plan B as an option. After all, the cost of a cab may be expensive these days, but worth every dollar if it means you and others that share the road remain safe.

How long will my car insurance claim take?
Initiating the claims process may only take about 15 minutes on the phone or online, but there’s no predicting the length of time the actual claim will take. You’re relying on the third party to be available so that your insurer can speak with or for their own insurance company to communicate with them to determine who’s at fault and the outcome.

You need to possibly factor in inspector’s assessment of both vehicles, police reports, medical examinations and more. This could take anywhere between days, months or years. So sit tight. There’s no telling if this will be a smooth or bumpy ride.

If you need help choosing the right car insurance for you, use Mozo’s car insurance comparison tool to get you off on the right track