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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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.

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.

Can I get car insurance after an accident?

Buying car insurance after an accident will cover you for future accidents, but won’t cover you for the accident you just had.

Having an accident is also likely to affect your future premiums.  How much is car insurance after an accident likely to cost you? That often depends on the cause of the accident you had and who was at fault. If you were not at fault, it shouldn’t affect you greatly. If you were, the price of car insurance is likely to rise as you’re considered a bigger liability by the insurer.

When buying your car insurance policy, consider asking your insurer how much does car insurance go up after an accident.

The circumstances of the accident can also affect your ability to buy car insurance. If the accident was caused by your reckless driving, your insurer may even cancel your car insurance policy for violating its terms. This may require you to buy a new policy urgently or run the risk of being underinsured. Remember that not reporting a serious at-fault accident to your current or future car insurance provider can also result in such cancellation if the insurer later finds out about the accident.

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.

Can I have two insurance policies on one car?

Everyone who drives a car in Australia must have insurance. If you were found driving without insurance, you’d likely have to pay a big fine go and may even have to go to court.

Having said that, there’s no need to have two car insurance policies at the same time if both cover the same thing.

You may get different policies for comprehensive or third party damage and compulsory third party, but usually there’s no need to have different policies for different drivers. Insurers should cover multiple drivers for the same car.

There are some instances where you may accidentally have two of the same car insurance policies. For example, if one policy has automatically renewed, but you sought insurance elsewhere without realising. If the question is, can a car have two insurance policies legally? The answer may technically be yes, but again, having two separate insurance policies for the same vehicle is not recommended.

If you do have two policies and are involved in a car accident, you cannot file claims with both insurance companies to get a financial windfall.

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.

 

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.

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 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.

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 my car insurance cover water damage?

There are many types of natural disasters that affect Australia and if your car is in the wrong place at the wrong time, it could get damaged. The right insurance policy should protect you from loss if your car needs to be repaired. Comprehensive car insurance packages cover certain types of water damage. However, it depends on what caused the damage.

Under certain policies, your car may be covered for water damage caused by flooding, heavy rain, and hailstorms. Your car’s exterior, interior, and engine are typically covered against these natural disasters under comprehensive policies.

However, comprehensive cover does not usually pay for any internal water damage caused by a maintenance issue, such as a window or sunroof left open during a rainstorm or an ignored slow leak. Leaks that are a result of heavy rain might be covered given it’s possible that your car has some imperfections like bad sealing on the windows, doors, or sunroof.

To ensure that you can claim water damage car insurance, follow these car water damage insurance claim tips: 

  • Get slow leaks repaired as soon as they emerge;
  • Ensure that windows or the sunroof are never left open when the car is not in use.

Can I get a refund on car insurance?

Have you decided to cancel your car insurance policy? Maybe you’ve sold your car, or you found a better rate elsewhere.  Perhaps you’re just not driving it anymore. So what happens to the unused amount of your car insurance? Can you get a refund on unused car insurance in such a scenario?

It often depends on who cancelled the policy: you or your insurance provider. If you initiated the process of cancellation, then you may be able to get most, if not all, of your unused amount. There might be some cancellation fees involved.

However, if the policy has been cancelled by your provider, because you defaulted on a payment, then you will not receive any refunds. Keep in mind, sale of your vehicle, or traffic violations such as receiving too many speeding tickets, or being charged with reckless driving, are not reasons to withhold refunds.

If you pay your insurance monthly, your future payments will simply stop. However, many insurance policies are paid upfront for the year, as some companies offer discounts. If this is the case, get in touch with your insurer about getting a refund for the unused amount.