How does car insurance work in Australia?

How does car insurance work in Australia?

If you own and drive a car in Australia, you are legally bound to have at least one form of car insurance: Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurance. But with the number of options available, choosing the right insurer that suits your needs can get confusing. 

Choosing a cheaper alternative can be tempting, but if it does not provide the right kind of coverage, it could cost you a lot more in case of an accident. So, it is good to know the types of insurance available to car owners and the protection each of them offers.    

There are four main types of motor vehicle insurance. 

  1. Compulsory Third Party
  2. Third-Party property
  3. Third-Party Fire and Theft 
  4. Comprehensive

Let us look at each of these in some detail. 

How does Third party car insurance work?

Third-party insurance covers injuries caused to other people and damages to their property in the event of an accident. Third-party insurance can have varying degrees of coverage.

1. Compulsory Third Party (CTP)

CTP is mandatory insurance that every car needs to have in every state and territory of Australia, and it is illegal to drive without at least this amount of insurance. CTP covers the people that might get injured if your vehicle is involved in an accident. But it does not cover injuries to the driver and passengers of your car, and neither does it cover damages to your vehicle, other vehicles, or property. You pay the least premium for this type of insurance but could end up with a considerable amount of liability in the event of an accident. 

2. Third-Party Property

This insurance covers damage to other vehicles and property in case of an accident. It does not cover your car, although some insurance companies may cover a certain amount of damage if your car was involved in an accident with an uninsured vehicle.

3. Third-Party Fire and Theft

In addition to third party property cover, this insurance also covers your vehicle from damages due to a fire or theft. 

How does comprehensive car insurance work?

As the name suggests, fully comprehensive insurance covers damages to your car, other vehicles (if caused by your car) and property, along with injuries sustained to all the people involved in the accident. 

Additionally, it also covers theft, damages due to fire, arson, and certain weather events. But it is essential to know that there can be some exclusions even in a fully comprehensive insurance policy. So, you should check the policy document carefully to avoid any last-minute surprises. 

If you have a new car or a car in a good state of repair, a comprehensive insurance policy would be the ideal choice, despite it attracting the highest premium. Comprehensive car insurance is also a highly competitive market, so comparing products from different companies is a good idea. 

How does car insurance work for new drivers? 

Insurance premiums take into account a wide variety of factors, such as the type of policy, driving record and insurance history, the type of vehicle, its intended use and even where the car will be parked. 

Similarly, the age and driving experience of the nominated driver is a significant factor. Since young and inexperienced drivers pose a higher risk of accidents, they also attract higher insurance premiums. Any driver under the age of 25 years is considered to be a greater liability by the insurance companies. 

Are there any other factors regarding car insurance that I should be aware of?  

Some of the common queries about car insurance are:

How do multi-car insurance policies work?

If you own more than one car or live in a household that does, it is possible to cover all the vehicles under a single policy. Usually, this can be done for 2 to 5 cars. With a multi-car insurance policy, you reduce the amount of paperwork, and there’s only a single payment to be made. Insurers can also offer discounts on such policies, but since it may involve other drivers, their age and driving history could affect the premium.

How does rental car insurance work?

Usually, rental cars only have compulsory third party cover included in the rental agreement. Your rental agreement may have a mention of insurance excess, which is actually the maximum amount of money you have to pay if the rental car is damaged or stolen, and not a liability cover. 

So accidents, theft or other damages could result in considerable expenses to you. Although some comprehensive car insurance policies include a rental car cover, it increases your premium and should be included only if you plan on renting frequently. A better option is to buy car rental excess insurance when renting a car. 

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Learn more about car insurance

How to choose car insurance?

With so many types of car insurance out there, it can be a challenge to choose the right one for you. Factors to consider when choosing car insurance include the cost, the inclusions, and the benefits of each, which may vary from provider to provider. When choosing a car insurance company, spend some time comparing what is, and what isn’t, covered by the policies.

Compulsory third party (CTP) insurance is part of your car registration cost. However, CTP does not protect you against damage to your car if it’s written off after an accident or if it gets stolen. Moreover, you might have to pay for damages to someone else's property in case of an accident.

Other covers you may wish to consider are third party property insurance, third party property, fire and theft insurance, and comprehensive insurance. While you might want to get additional insurance, not everyone requires the highest cover, and it depends entirely on several factors, such as the make and age of the car or the area where you live.

You can compare car insurance providers to get a policy that suits your needs.

Can you have a car without insurance?

Can you have a car without insurance? The simple answer is ‘no’ and driving without insurance is illegal. Every vehicle in Australia is required to have at minimum a Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurance policy to be registered to drive.

Having car insurance beyond CTP is entirely up to you as the driver and owner of the vehicle. You may want to keep in mind, however, that being in a car accident can be traumatic, especially if it results in vehicular damage or injuries.

Dealing with any expenses that arise in an accident when you are at fault can cause additional stress. This is especially true if you don’t have insurance coverage that will assist in paying for these damages.

Compulsory third-party insurance

In multiple states and territories, the cost of CTP insurance is included in the registration expenses. For the states or territories where it’s not included, CTP insurance needs to be confirmed before you’re able to pay for registration. CTP insurance protects you against claims arising due to accidental injuries or death when you are involved in an at-fault car accident.

Why is CTP inadequate?

CTP does not cover damage to third-party property or any of the vehicles involved in the accident. The driver who is responsible for the accident is liable to cover all the expenses. Therefore, if you only have CTP insurance, you’ll have to pay for other expenses, such as car and property repairs, towing, and potentially car rental. If you want a policy that covers these costs, you need a comprehensive or third-party property damage insurance policy.

If you’re asking, is it illegal to have a car without insurance, the answer isn’t simple. Specifically, it is illegal to not have a CTP policy at the very least, but any insurance beyond that is a choice. If you’re caught driving an unregistered vehicle --  if you don’t have a CTP insurance policy, that is -- you may receive infringement notices that include fines and a loss of demerit points.

Does insurance cover a stolen car if keys were in the car?

A car insurance policy that covers the theft of your car, such as third party fire and theft insurance, usually covers a stolen car, even if the keys were in the car’s ignition.

However, your insurer may deny the claim if you live in an area where there have been several car robberies reported recently. They will see you leaving the keys in the car as a case of negligence. In such cases, your insurance provider may even expect you to have installed anti-theft security measures in your car. 

You may need to confirm whether or not you left your keys in your car, and if they had been stolen or misplaced, before filing your car insurance claim. The loss or theft of your car keys may be covered by a comprehensive car insurance policy, but usually as an optional item.

If you can confirm that your car keys were stolen, mention this in your claim as this will help establish that your car was not stolen as a result of your negligence.

Are stolen car keys covered by insurance?

Having your car key stolen is not just frustrating, but it can also turn out to be quite a costly affair. Modern electronic keys can be much more expensive to replace than traditional ones, and losing one can make a sizeable dent in your pocket. But does insurance cover stolen car keys?

A few comprehensive car insurance and third party fire and theft policies do cover lost car keys as a standard, while others offer it to their customers as an extra. However, there are some that don’t entertain stolen car keys insurance claims, so you must check with your insurance policy provider and read the Product Disclosure Statement carefully before purchasing the policy.

It is important to note that you will need to prove to your car insurance provider that the keys have actually been stolen and not merely misplaced, as most policies will refuse to provide cover in the case of lost keys. Car insurance policies that cover stolen keys typically cover the cost of replacing the keys, recoding your car locks and locksmith charges.

 

Can you insure your car for 6 months?

Most Australian insurers won’t offer you a 6-month car insurance policy, so you may need to buy a policy that covers your car for damages and cancel it after six months. You will need to purchase comprehensive car insurance to protect your car from accidental damage, theft, vandalism, or natural disasters.. 

Consider checking whether your 6-month comprehensive car insurance will cost more if you pay monthly or six-monthly premiums instead of a one-time annual premium. Another question to ask the insurer is whether you’ll need to pay administration or cancellation fees when you cancel the policy.

Alternatively, you can look for a suitable ‘pay as you drive’ car insurance policy, which usually offers you the coverage of a comprehensive car insurance policy but only requires you to pay for the distance driven. Such a policy may not be the ideal 6-month car insurance plan as it is based on how much you drive rather than for how long. If you need to drive a lot, you may end up paying more than you’d pay for regular car insurance. 

Can I drive a new car without insurance?

It is illegal to drive a car in Australia without insurance. Most states require that you get your insurance in place before you drive the car off the dealership’s plot. So, the answer to whether driving a new car without insurance is no, it is not allowed.

The only time you can possibly legally drive an uninsured car is when you have to get the vehicle registered. You should drive straight to an inspection station or your state's vehicle registry. You must also make sure that you take the most direct or convenient route possible.

It is important to note that your compulsory third party insurance (CTP or green slip) isn’t valid until your car is registered.

Driving an unregistered or uninsured vehicle can have severe legal repercussions. If you are involved in an accident, and are driving an unregistered and uninsured vehicle, you will be personally liable to pay compensation to anyone hurt, as well as for damages. If you are caught driving a vehicle without insurance, you may be fined or even have your vehicle seized.

 

Does car insurance cover driving while intoxicated?

Will car insurance pay if drunk driving causes an accident? Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal, however, some insurers may cover the liabilities.

Your driving history and experience are important factors that affect the car insurance premium. If you have had violations for drinking under the influence, insurers may perceive you as high-risk. They will then be more likely to charge you a higher car insurance premium.

But does car insurance cover drunk driving accident liabilities? Many factors are involved in answering this, here’s what you should know.

Amount of cover

Although driving while intoxicated is illegal, if you’re involved in an accident, your insurance may cover damages within the limits of the policy. While expenses should be covered under your car insurance for drunk driving accidents, you may face other penalties, like cancellation or non-renewal of your policy.

Premiums

Additionally, the premium on car insurance for drunk drivers may increase by as much as 79% if you’re convicted. Some insurers, however, won’t cover damages if you’re driving whilst intoxicated and you don’t comply with the conditions laid out in the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS).

Check "does car insurance cover you if you are drunk" in the terms and conditions of your policy if you have a history of such violations.

Can you claim insurance for car dents?

Car insurance has been designed to protect you from some of the costs of repairing damage to your car. However, is it worth claiming car insurance for a dent?

The main factor to take into account is the excess that you will need to pay at the time of making the insurance claim for the car door dent, and comparing it with the repair cost of the dent.

For instance, if someone collided into your car with a shopping cart and the cost of repairing the dent is lesser than your excess, you would be better off not making the claim. However, if your car’s panels are dented by intense hail, in all likelihood the cost of getting the dents taken care of will be much higher than your excess. Here making a car dent insurance claim would make sense.

Please note that if you’re making a car dent insurance claim for damages that have accumulated over a long time, you will be required to pay an excess for each separate incident that dented your car.

 

Can you get same-day car insurance?

While you can buy car insurance the same day you purchase a vehicle, coverage may not take effect immediately, and you need to make sure you aren’t driving around without an active car insurance policy. This can happen if the insurer insists that your vehicle needs to be inspected before they approve the policy. When purchasing a new or used car, you will need compulsory third-party (CTP) coverage before you can drive it. Usually, CTP coverage is included with your car registration. However, in some states, you can choose to buy it from an insurer licensed by the state or territory to offer CTP coverage. Consider checking whether you should buy this policy before registering the car.

Given that you can buy a car insurance policy online, getting the policy may only take an hour or two if you’ve done your research. You may want to ask the insurer about any waiting periods they may place on coverage. For instance, if you’re buying third-party fire and theft insurance just before the bushfire season, the insurer may not allow you to file a fire damage insurance claim anytime soon. Many insurance providers will let you decide the date on which your coverage becomes active. This may be useful if you’re about to buy a car and want to match the date the insurance coverage becomes active with the day you plan to register your car.

Does the colour of your car affect your insurance rate?

You may be surprised to learn that you may want to consider choosing the colour of your car based on your insurance premium, and not your favourite colour. Research from Monash University back in 2007 has shown that the colour of the car could affect the likelihood of a crash and hence some colours could attract higher car insurance premiums than others.

Statistically, silver and grey cars have demonstrated a higher crash risk as compared to say, white cars. This could be because these colours have lower visibility on roads as compared to other colours. The colour orange is deemed a safer bet than white, as are shades of cream, yellow and mauve, although the difference in their premium pricing is not as significant.

Additionally, some colours and paints, especially metallic or pearl shades, can be expensive and cost more to repair or replace. These colours could also affect the value of your car and may raise its cost to a certain degree.

Besides the likelihood of being involved in an accident and the cost of repainting, certain colours also pose a greater chance of being stolen. On average, a green car costs less to insure than a black one since data has shown that black cars are more likely to be stolen than green ones.

Does car insurance cover contents?

Thousands of vehicles are stolen each year, but insurance can protect you from financial loss.

A common question you may have is what does my car insurance cover? This depends on the type of insurance and there are four basic types of car insurance, and each offers different cover.

 

Types of car insurance

Compulsory third-party (CTP) insurance indemnifies you against liabilities arising due to personal injuries to another party. A third-party fire and theft insurance policy covers loss to your car or third-party property in an accident. It also covers expenses if your vehicle is damaged in a fire or stolen. Third-party property insurance covers any liability resulting from damage to third-party property but any damage to your property is not covered under this policy.  Comprehensive policy covers most costs arising in case of an accident to either your car or third-party property.

 

Does car insurance cover stolen contents?

Does car insurance cover contents lost in case of a theft? Generally, any valuables stolen from the vehicle, such as your phone, are not covered under car insurance. However, some insurers offer vehicle contents insurance that does cover the loss of valuables from your car.

Consider reading your policy’s product disclosure statement (PDS) to find out if it covers contents, or contact your insurer directly.

Remember, there are several ways in which you can prevent theft of both your car and contents. Being a little more cautious can make a huge difference.