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What is a not-at-fault car insurance claim?

A not-at-fault claim is when you’re claiming for a car accident that you didn’t cause and you can identify the at-fault driver to report to your insurance provider.

How do I make a car insurance claim when it’s not my fault?

You’ll need to collect the details of the other driver involved when making your claim; this will generally include:

  • The names and contact details of the other driver
  • Details and statements from any witnesses of the accident
  • The other driver’s insurer and policy details
  • The car model and registration number of other vehicles involved.

You can usually make a car insurance claim via your insurer’s online portal (typically by logging into your account), by calling your insurer’s claim line or by filling out a claims form and emailing or sending it. If you’re able to provide your insurer with the above information about the accident, you will likely not have to pay an excess. If you didn’t contribute to the accident, you should be covered in a not-at-fault accident regardless of your level of coverage. After you make your not-at-fault claim, your and the other driver’s insurance companies will sort out the compensation.

However, if you can’t identify the at-fault party (e.g. the driver left before you could get their details), the damage to your vehicle may be covered subject to paying an excess. Be sure to check the relevant Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) of your policy to see whether you’re covered for accidental damage to your car in an accident.

Determining who’s at fault in a car accident

Insurance companies consider the evidence of what happened against 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/s 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 an untimely yet legal turn. In these cases, your insurance company may attempt to negotiate with the other driver’s insurance provider to split the blame, with any costs based on that amount of blame.

If the matter goes before a court, a judge will determine who shares what percentage of fault.

Not-at-fault car accident

Gathering evidence after an accident

Following a motor vehicle accident, 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.

Take photos

With modern smartphones doubling as cameras, taking pictures of an accident scene has never been easier. Take photos of all vehicles involved and at all points of contact and damage caused. If you have a dash cam, you can use the footage to help your claim, as this can show what happened rather than just what the damage looks like. As well as recording their contact details, take photos of the other driver’s identification card and licence plate.

Gather the other driver’s details

Ask the driver for their details. This includes the driver’s name, phone number, licence details, address, vehicle registration number, make and model of their car, their car insurance provider and what car insurance policy they have.

Ask witnesses for a statement

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 or your insurer need to talk to them later.

Write down what happened

While it’s still fresh in your memory, make some notes about what happened for when you go to make your claim; note the date, time and location of the incident. Your insurer may need these details to process your claim.

Frequently asked questions

What if an uninsured driver causes the accident?

Should an uninsured driver cause an accident, you can make a claim as usual. Generally, all levels of car insurance provide some form of cover if your car is damaged by an uninsured driver – though you still need to provide details to identify the other driver. You will need to read your PDS and any disclaimers to check if this applies to your cover.

If you are the uninsured driver but not at fault for a car accident, the process is a little different.

Will making a claim increase the cost of my insurance?

Making a car insurance claim can increase the cost of your insurance even if you’re not at fault. Remember that insurers do incur costs even when assessing a not-at-fault accident.

Is it worth making a car insurance claim if the damage is minor?

Sometimes, you might find that the damage does not warrant a claim. For instance, if the damage is only a minor scratch, the excess payment could be more expensive than the cost of repairs for it, so you could save money by paying for the repairs without making a claim.

Will I have to pay an excess if I'm not at fault?

If the at-fault party is identified and your insurer can contact them to process their details as a part of your claim, you may not need to pay the basic excess for your claim. However, it’s still possible you might need to pay an excess, depending on the circumstances of the accident. This should be refunded to you if it has been recovered from the at-fault party.

You’ll typically have to pay an excess when making a claim if the at-fault party can’t be identified.

Will I lose my no claims discount if I’m not at fault?

Many car insurers offer a no claims discount, otherwise known as a no claims bonus or safe driver discount. This discount is based on the number of years you have driven without making a car insurance claim.

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 will maintain your discount if you make a claim. Having this protection typically costs extra, and there may be limits to how many claims you can make before losing your discount.

Will I receive a replacement vehicle while my car is being repaired?

You may receive a free hire car if you have cover for a replacement vehicle in your policy; this feature can be included in some comprehensive car insurance policies. Alternatively, cover for a rental car might be available to be purchased as an optional extra on your policy.

Do I need to call the police when I get into an accident?

Australia’s state and territory police services note that in the event of a car accident, regardless of whether you’re at fault or not, you must call 000 if:1

  • Someone has died or is injured (in which case you would dial 000 for an ambulance)
  • There’s a traffic jam
  • Fuel is spilling
  • Any public property damage has occurred (e.g. damage to power lines or barriers)
  • There’s another hazard threatening the public.

You can call the police following a crash on the nationwide non-emergency assistance line (131 444) to file a police report should any of the following occur:

  • The other driver refuses to provide any details
  • The other driver has driven off
  • You suspect drugs or alcohol were involved in causing the crash
  • A driver with a disability requires assistance from the police.

You can get additional information on what to do after a car accident with our guide.

What do I do if the other person drives off before we can exchange details?

If the other driver doesn’t stick around to provide their 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.

What if there's a dispute?

If the other driver disputes the claim, your insurance company may ask you for some additional details about the accident. They will then try and resolve the issue on your behalf with the other party’s insurer (if they have cover) or the driver involved if they have no car insurance. This usually involves sending a letter of demand to the at-fault driver, asking for compensation for the damages.

If all else fails, you may need to seek legal advice and potentially bring the dispute before the courts. If this is the case, you should contact your insurer to see if they’ll cover your court costs.

Find great-value car insurance

If you feel it’s time for a switch, comparing car insurance policies can help you find a more competitive plan in terms of cover, benefits and cost.

Luckily, our handy comparison service makes finding great-value cover quick and hassle-free! Enter a few details into our free service and compare policies from some of Australia’s largest insurers in only minutes.


1 Traffic crash FAQs. Queensland Police. Queensland Government (n.d.). Retrieved October 2022.

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