Not at fault car insurance claim

TAMIKA SEETO
Finance Journalist · 25 August 2021
Picture the scene: you’re waiting in your car at a red light, listening to music, and then bang! Your car is hit from behind by another driver. Thankfully it was at a low speed, but it still leaves a sizable dent in your car’s bumper. You do not believe you are at fault, so how do you go about making a car insurance claim?

In this article:

How do you determine who is at fault?

It’s important to work out who is responsible for causing the accident (who is at fault) because they will be liable to pay for the costs. This may include paying for the repair costs, towing fees and the cost of a hire car.

In some cases, it will be clear who the at-fault party was. For example, if another driver rear ends your car, they will generally be the one at fault. Additionally, if the accident occurs because another driver has run a red light, they will also likely be found at fault.

Other cases won’t be as clear cut. According to Budget Direct, in this case insurers will consider evidence like photos, dashcam footage, independent eyewitness accounts, physical proof, the Australian Road Rules and police reports to determine who caused the accident.

In some circumstances, both parties may be partly responsible for the accident. This is known as contributory negligence. For example, if you and another car reversed at the same time and hit each other, both parties may be considered equally liable, and each party might pay for the portion of the damage they caused.

How do I make a car insurance claim when it’s not my fault?

If you have comprehensive car insurance, you can typically make a claim to cover the costs of the accident. You’ll need to provide your insurer with information about the accident, including the details of the other driver (or drivers) involved; as well as about any witnesses to the accident, tow-truck company used and police report filed.

To help with this process, it’s a good idea to collect the following information after the accident:

  • Details of other drivers involved, including their names, contact numbers, addresses, licences, registration numbers and insurance details (if applicable). If the other driver (or drivers) refuse to give their details, note vehicle registration numbers and you can report the accident to the police.
  • If there are any eyewitnesses to the accident, ask them for their names and contact details.
  • Take photos of the accident if it is safe to do so.

Your insurer will then contact the at-fault driver’s insurer or the driver themselves (if they don’t have insurance). Your insurer may also arrange a hire car for you if you need one.

It’s worth considering whether you want to make a claim in the first place. For example, in a two-car accident, you and the other driver may agree to sort out the damage between yourselves. In this case, you would need to get a quote from a mechanic or repairer. It can be a good idea to get a couple of quotes so you can show that the repair costs are reasonable. If you decide to sort out the matter privately, you might still need to let your insurer know.

Be aware that there could be risks involved with handling repairs privately. For example, it may be difficult to negotiate with the other driver if there is a dispute over who was responsible for the accident. There is also the risk that the other driver will not pay. In this event, you would have to weigh up whether pursuing legal action might be worth it.

Do I have to pay an excess?

Many policies do not require you to pay an excess where you were not at fault and you have the details of the at-fault driver. However, if you were partly at fault or you are unable to provide details of the driver of the at-fault car, you will likely be required to pay an excess.

Will making a claim affect my no-claim bonus or increase my premium?

Insurers generally will not reduce your no-claim bonus if you were not the at-fault driver and you provide your car insurer with the at-fault driver’s details. However, depending on your insurer, your premiums may increase after you make a claim, regardless of whether you were not at fault.


Compare car insurance

If you’re considering car insurance policies, the comparison table below displays some of the policies currently available on Canstar’s database for a 30-39 year old male seeking cover in NSW without cover for an extra driver under 25. Please note the table is sorted by Star Rating (highest to lowest) followed by provider name (alphabetical) and features links direct to the providers’ website. Use Canstar’s car insurance comparison selector to view a wider range of policies.

Additional reporting by Sam Bloom and James Hurwood.

Cover image source: Kwangmoozaa/Shutterstock.com.


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