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Car insurance claim tips you must know

Jodie Humphries avatar
Jodie Humphries
- 6 min read
Car insurance claim tips you must know

Every vehicle in Australia must have compulsory third-party (CTP) insurance to be registered. Any car insurance cover above this level is optional but can help give you peace of mind in case you have an accident. There are three levels of cover available for Australian drivers; third-party, third-party fire and theft or comprehensive. 


Be sure you read the Policy Disclosure Statement (PDS) to understand the terms of your policy. If you need to make a claim, insurers will give details of how your claim will be handled in the PDS. If you don’t follow this information, you may have your claim rejected, or your cover cancelled. It also helps to familiarise yourself with the car insurance claim process so that you know exactly what to do if your vehicle is involved in an accident.

How to submit a car insurance claim?

If your vehicle is involved in an accident, you can make a claim for any damage or loss covered under the insurance. You must contact your insurer as soon as possible. If the accident happens with another driver, you’ll need to collect some details from them. These include:

  • Name, address, and contact number
  • Date, time, and location of the accident with a brief description
  • Licence number and vehicle registration
  • Details of their insurer and policy cover
  • Photos of the accident and damage to vehicles involved

Your insurer will want all the information you’ve gathered about the accident, anyone else involved and the status of your car. The level of cover you have will impact what you receive in terms of reimbursement and assistance. You won't receive any reimbursement with either of the third-party covers, but anyone else involved will. 

If you’ve opted for a comprehensive car insurance policy, you may receive car hire or accommodation depending on what happened and your policy. The insurer will ask you to pay the excess during the claim process.

You may be able to submit the claim either online or via the insurer’s app. However, some insurers may prefer you make a claim in person or over the phone, so they can get all the relevant information.
The General Insurance Code of Practice stipulates that your insurer must respond to your claim within ten working days from the date of receipt. If the company requires more time, they must inform you in advance.

Car insurance claim tips

If you’re looking for some car accident insurance claim advice, there are some things you can do to help ensure your claim is not rejected. Follow these car insurance claim tips to help get through the process:

  • Report the accident to your insurer and the police, if required, as soon as possible. Not all accidents need to be reported to the police, so you should check if this applies to your accident.
  • Successful claims often require tons of paperwork and having these available will help. This paperwork will include information about the accident, proof of ownership of the car, the driver’s history, the value of the vehicle, and pictures of the damage. Keep all this handy to help process the claim faster.
  • Opt to get the repairs from your insurer’s preferred service providers. If you opt for a local workshop outside your insurer’s preferred network, inform your insurer and get the repair costs approved before starting the work. You should also retain the receipts for all the work that is done.
  • One major reason for a claim being rejected is providing false information. It’s important to give your insurer all the relevant policy and accident information. You should also give timely updates about any changes to the regular drivers, their driving ability, or other incidents that may result in a claim.
  • If your claim is to do with theft, some car theft insurance claims advice is to ensure your vehicle is secured when unattended. If you leave the car unlocked and it’s stolen, your claim is likely to be rejected.
  • Car insurance doesn’t cover recklessness; therefore, being a responsible driver that avoids driving in a way that could cause an accident will help prevent the need for a claim. A history of responsible driving will also help you if you ever do need to make a claim.
  • Don’t claim for anything that isn’t covered under the policy; read the PDS carefully to avoid having a claim rejected in the future.

What to expect when you make a claim?

Now that you have some car insurance claim tips on hand in case you have an accident or need to make a claim, you should also understand what’s involved in making a claim. There are a few common things you’ll encounter every time you go to make a claim.

Excess


Excess is the amount you pay before insurance benefits kick in and is agreed upon when buying the policy. You’re liable to pay the excess if the accident was your fault. Generally, a higher excess means a lower premium and vice versa.
You should consider the excess before making a claim. For instance, if the repair costs are higher than the excess, it may be worth making a claim. However, if the excess is higher than these costs, it’s probably best to avoid making a claim and either pay the costs yourself or live with the damage. Although, if you’re at fault and there are significant damages to the other vehicle, making a claim can be worth it.


No claim bonus (NCB)


The no claim bonus (NCB) is a discount insurers offer for good driving history or no claims. This discount is often impacted if you make a claim. However, some insurers do allow you to set a certain number of claims during the policy period without affecting the NCB.  And some insurance companies may provide bonus protection for an additional fee.


Future premiums


You may think that a little incident isn’t significant, but it could impact the price of future premiums. If you make more than one claim in a year, your premium and excess may increase; however, these changes vary from insurer to insurer. Check your policy’s PDS to understand how any and all claims will impact your future premiums. 


Unsatisfactory results


If you’re not satisfied with the claim outcome, whether you’ve been rejected or not received as much reimbursement as expected, you can contact the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) for a resolution. However, make sure you’ve read the PDS carefully to understand your entitlements and policy details before filing a complaint.

Making a car insurance claim can be stressful. These car insurance claim tips and reading and understanding your policies PDS will help make the process easier. 

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This article was reviewed by Personal Finance Editor Peter Terlato before it was published as part of RateCity's Fact Check process.

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