Repair rip-offs: Avoid the sting

Repair rip offs Avoid the sting

How to make the most of car insurance if you’re faced with an accident.

By Amy Bradney-George
January 25, 2010

Getting a car fixed after an accident can be expensive regardless of insurance, and for people who do not know much about the inner workings of their cars, “garage talk” ends up confusing and often costly.

Dealing with an accident by phoning the police, collecting insurance details and contacts is one thing, but what happens afterwards when your car needs repairs?

Lack of planning and a little bit of dishonesty from the repairer can leave you overcharged for the services and unprepared for costs, which is why it pays off to know a bit more about your car and how insurance cover can help.

Steps to smart repairs

1. Meet the repairer: Most insurance companies will also ask for three quotes before deciding which repairer is suitable, however, if you do not have insurance cover, it is still important to make sure the repairer will suit your needs and your budget. Many insurance companies provide their members with a list of trusted mechanics and panel beaters to do repairs and suggest you make sure other mechanics are certified before agreeing to the repairs.

2. Keep a clear head: Accidents are stressful and it is important to make sure someone has a clear head to deal with the repairer. It is wise to make a list of what needs to be repaired so there is no doubt for you or the repairer. Otherwise, if they fix more than the damages done from the accident, the price will be higher and insurance may not cover it.

3. Question time: Ask questions about the cost, what needs to be repaired and have the mechanic write it out before work is started. Many insurance policies will collect quotes from several repairers and recommend one based on the amount of detail included in the quote and competitive pricing.

4. Insurance policy: Having a competent understanding of your car insurance policy will better prepare you in the case of damage to your car. In some cases simply knowing what the insurance cover is enough, but many car insurance providers now have extras that make the whole accident process easier.

The most common and practical extras include:

  • Free towing after an accident
  • Repair guarantees and quality checks
  • Cover for hire car costs
  • New for new car replacement

Considering these types of benefits before taking out a car insurance policy is the difference between quality, cost and convenience. While it is tempting to go for the cheapest insurance premium you can get, knowing what additional benefits are available, and factoring in value for money is a worthwhile task.


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Learn more about car insurance

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.

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.