Car insurance claims

Woman making insurance claim next to broken down car

If you’re responsible for a car accident, you may vocalise a few profanities, but at Mozo, we prefer to refer to such mishaps as silly scenarios (there's got to be some levity to this unfortunate situation).

If you're stuck on what steps to take after an accident, follow this handy guide. It'll answer all your car insurance claim questions and give you an idea of what to expect throughout the process of making a claim.

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Possible silly scenario:

Instead of leaving your phone responsibly in your bag on the back seat, you leave it on the passenger seat. You receive a message, 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 too late to brake in time. Sound familiar?

This scenario gets the infamous title of 'silly' because it’s a scenario that really could have been prevented. Happily, if you decided to purchase comprehensive car insurance you won't be feeling like a such a clown. Not only is the other person's car covered under your insurance, but so is yours.

Is making a claim on your car insurance worth it?

Glad you asked. In some situations, perhaps not. If your shopping trolley in the car park decided to dance with the wind on a gusty day, kissing the car door as you’re unloading groceries, 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 be forced to claim on car insurance if you want to keep driving, as well as pay for damage you've caused to other vehicles. Then you'll be really glad you took out a policy.

Are you an inexperienced driver or do you have a poor driving history? Expect to pay more than the basic excess you were quoted when you first purchased your policy. If you’re deemed a risk on the road by your car insurance company, you may want to consider:

  • Taking a refresher course with a driving instructor
  • Getting your eyes checked
  • Catching cabs here and there (sometimes you'd rather be safe than sorry and in debt!)

What to expect when making a claim

If there’s damage caused to someone else’s car or property, provided you have some level of car insurance, know that there are a whole bunch of factors which are unavoidable.

1. Excess If you’re at fault, you will need to pay excess. Whether you purchase third party property or comprehensive car insurance, your excess is an agreed amount you decide on at the time you purchase your policy. Remember: the lower the premium, the higher the excess. A lower excess to pay when making a claim is great if you’re prone to regular silly accidents, but check with your insurance provider about what paying a high premium means for your personal situation.

2. Future premiums One little mishap might not feel significant, but it will likely increase your premium anywhere between 5% and 20%. This means if you make more than one claim in 12 months, your premium will go up again. Expect a massive chunk out of your pocket not only on the premium you pay but also excess cost. But remember, the deets all depends on your insure.

3. No claim bonus That’s going to get affected. But if you stay loyal to one provider, every year you don’t claim rebuilds your no claim bonus. 

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 and frazzled, even if it’s a minor incident. Here are a few key actions to remember if an accident happens when you're behind the wheel.

1. Is everyone ok? If someone needs medical assistance or is seriously injured, call 000 immediately.

2. Licence Do you have your driver’s license handy? You shouldn’t be driving without it anyway! Get ready to exchange your personal details with the other driver, as well as the name of your insurance company. 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 and car specifications, including the make, model and colour of their car, 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 record keeping, and can help determine how the accident happened and who was at fault. You can take photos of damage to your vehicle now or later on.

5. What, when, how It’s a good idea to avoid talking about who caused the accident. It could be that both parties will hold some responsibility and share the cost of the repairs or that one driver is at fault and will have to cover costs. But it's 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 insurance provider Your insurance company is trained to deal with customers who are highly stressed after an accident. They are more than equipped to 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.

Other important FAQs about car insurance claims

Do I need to use an approved repairer?
This will depend on your policy and provider. Some policies include your own choice of repairer, while other require you to use one of their approved mechanics or repairers. Only they are authorised to do the task and not Joe down the road.

If you don't have a policy which covers your choice of repairer and you would like your local mechanic to do the work, run it past your policy guidelines. It doesn't hurt to ask and your personal car guy, 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 insurance provider. 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. Nothing should come out of your pocket to cover damages (if you've got sufficient coverage and your claim has been approved) except for the excess you agreed on with your provider when you first purchased your policy. 

When am I not covered by my insurance policy?
If you were found at fault, but also if you were:

  • Under the influence of alcohol over the legal driving limit
  • Using illicit drugs or unregistered medication that may alter your ability to drive
  • Speeding, driving negligently or breaking any other laws at time of the accident

But always cross check it against your policy first. If you are at fault considering any of the above factors, expect to pay big bucks. Some accidents where drugs or alcohol are involved can cost in the tens of thousands. If you value your car, your savings, your family and your life, always have a plan B to get home. A taxi or Uber may be expensive, but worth every dollar if it means you and others sharing 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 your provider can speak with them or their own insurance company to determine who’s at fault and the outcome.

You may need to factor in inspector’s assessment of both vehicles, police reports, medical examinations and more. This could take days, months or even 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

*Any information provided on this page should be considered a summary and general advice only. All information should be verified before purchase via the relevant Product Disclosure Statement (PDS).

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