A not-at-fault claim refers to when an incident occurs that you didn’t cause, and you can identify the at-fault party.
You’ll need to provide details of the other driver involved when making your claim – check with your insurer exactly what details are required. Claims are commonly lodged online over the phone or by filling out a form.
If you can’t identify who was at fault (from a hit-and-run, for example), then you may need to make an at-fault claim.
Insurance companies weigh up the evidence of what happened with Australia’s road rules to see who was in the wrong and caused the crash. With more straightforward accidents, it’s typically easy to determine who’s responsible.
Sometimes, you and the other driver (or drivers if multiple vehicles are involved) can share responsibility if you were both somewhat at fault. This might happen, for example, if you both merge into each other while changing lanes, or if one driver didn’t give way while you made a dangerous turn.
In these cases, your insurance company will try to negotiate with the other driver’s insurance provider to split the blame, with any costs based on that amount of blame. They’ll do a lot of the heavy lifting on your car insurance claim when you’re not at fault, and will notify you of the process and outcome. Your insurer may ask you for extra information to process the claim.
If the matter goes before a court, a judge will determine who shares what percentage of fault.
Following an incident, once you’ve established everyone’s safe, it’s time to gather evidence to assist with your insurance claim. There are several things you should consider doing at this stage.
With modern smartphones doubling as cameras, taking pictures of the crash scene has never been easier. Take photos of all vehicles involved. If you have a dash-cam, you can use the footage to help your claim, as this can show what happened, not just what the damage looks like.
Ask the driver if they can provide some details. This includes their name, phone number, licence details, address, their car’s registration number, the make and model of their car, their car insurance provider and what car insurance policy they have.
If there are witnesses who saw what happened, you can ask them for a written or recorded statement and any dash-cam footage they have. You can also ask for their contact details, in case you need to talk to them later.
While it’s still fresh in your memory, make some notes about what happened for when you make your claim. Note the date, time and location of the incident.
Should an uninsured driver cause an accident where you’re not at fault, you can make a claim as usual. Comprehensive car insurance, as well as some Third Party Fire and Theft policies do cover you if your car is damaged by an uninsured driver – though you need to provide some details to identify the other driver. However, making a claim in this situation isn’t always straightforward.
Making a car insurance claim can increase the cost of your insurance even if you’re not at fault. This is because making a claim means some insurance companies may see you as riskier to insure, even if you weren’t responsible. If the latter applies, the insurer might think you’re more susceptible to an accident, based on where you live or where you usually travel to, for example.
If you don’t have a comprehensive policy and your level of cover doesn’t cover damages to your vehicle and you’re at-fault, then you’ll have to foot the repair bill.
Sometimes, you might not find that the damage warrants a claim. For instance, if the damage is only a minor scratch, the excess payment could be more expensive than the cost to repair it, so you would save money by paying for the repairs without making a claim.
If the at-fault party is identified, and your insurer can contact them and process their details as a part of your claim, then you shouldn’t need to pay any excess when claiming. However, it’s still possible you might need to pay an excess, depending on the circumstances of the accident.
For example, if you or if someone else was driving the car (and not at fault in the accident) but not listed on the policy, you might have to pay additional excess payments like an unlisted driver excess.
You’ll typically have to pay an excess when making a claim when the at-fault party can’t be identified.
Many car insurers offer a no-claims discount, also known as a safe driver discount. This discount is based on the number of years you have driven without making a car insurance claim. Insurers use this as an indicator that you’re a safe driver and less of a risk to insure.
The more years you’re on the road without claiming, the higher your discount may be.
Some car insurance policies even offer no-claims discount protection that helps you maintain your discount if you make a claim. Doing so typically increases your premium, and there may be limits to how many claims you can make before losing your discount.
You may receive a free hire car if you have cover for a replacement vehicle in your policy, this feature is found in some comprehensive car insurance policies or might be able to be purchased as an optional extra on your policy.
Australia’s state and territory police services note in the event of a car accident, regardless of whether you’re at fault or not, you must call 000 if:
You can call the police following a crash on their non-emergency assistance line 131 444 should any of the following occur:
You can get additional information on what to do after a car accident with our guide.
If the other driver doesn’t stick around and provide details, you can call the police to report the accident. For your insurance claim, try and note down as much detail as you can about the other driver and their car, such as make and model, license plate, and any other details to help you identify them.
If the other driver disputes the claim, then your insurance company will contact you to inform you, and they may ask you for some additional details about the accident. They will then try and resolve the issue for you with the other party’s insurer (if they have cover), or just the driver involved if they have no car insurance.
There is the potential for the dispute to go before the courts. You may be required to testify, and should contact your insurer to see if they’ll cover your court costs.
You can find out more about the claims dispute process with our explainer.