What not to do after an accident

What not to do after an accident

A car accident is one of the more stressful situations we might unexpectedly face. These simple tips will help you deal with the immediate aftermath of a car accident and any car insurance claims that might follow.

Check that everyone is safe

The first and most important thing is that everyone involved in the accident is safe. Damage to property be repaired or replaced, but people come first. Find out whether anyone is injured and call for assistance immediately if they are. 

Create a safe environment

Make sure the area around you is as safe as possible – the last thing you want is to cause another accident. In some situations it won’t be safe to move passengers and the cars, but if it is, look to where you can move the situation off the road. Turn off your engine, put your hazard lights and your handbrake on and check the cars to make sure there’s no petrol leaking or other major hazards.

Stay calm

Don’t get angry or yell at another driver. Starting an argument will just inflame an already-stressful situation and its unlikely to achieve anything. Take a deep breath and focus on what needs to be done.

Take stock

Write down the details of all drivers involved. This includes their name and address, drivers’ licence number and state of issue, date of birth, number plate and insurance details. Try and get their phone number and email address as well. It’s also important to provide your own personal information to the other drivers.  Use the camera on your mobile, if you have one, to capture a few quick images of the other car, it’s registration details, the road itself (obviously only if it’s safe to stop and do so).

Avoid allocating blame

Try not to allege or admit fault or responsibility, no matter how obvious it might be. It doesn’t make you a liar if you don’t admit this stuff straight after the accident. It’s ultimately the role of the police, and sometimes the insurance companies, to figure out fault, and rest assured they will. Admitting fault only complicates things later if it turns out there are mitigating circumstances, and your insurer might penalise you later with excess or premium increases.

Call your insurer

Don’t wait long to call your insurance company. In fact, some insurance policies contain clauses which void claims or reduce them if you wait too long before reporting an accident. If it’s safe to make the call then and there, then do. One thing you’ll find with Australian car insurance companies is that most of them invest heavily in having people with good phone manner to take these calls. They know it’s stressful, so they will generally be pretty co-operative in telling you what to do next. Before you take out a policy with any insurer read their terms and conditions and, in particular, the Product Disclosure Statement. Make sure you understand how they handle claims, and what obligations you have in the event of an accident.

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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 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.

 

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.