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I’m not at fault for an accident and I don’t have insurance. What happens now?

If another driver causes an accident and neither of you has relevant car insurance, remember that they’re still required to pay for the damage they’ve caused. They may be reluctant to pay or admit they’re at fault, which is why gathering evidence is crucial in getting your car repaired.

Likewise, if you’re at fault for a car accident without insurance, you’d have to pay for the cost of repairs to any damage(s) you cause.

How do I get compensated if I’m not at fault for an accident without insurance?

If you’ve had a not-at-fault car accident without insurance, your main point of contact is the driver who caused the accident and you’ll need to go through them for the cost of repairs to your car. They can either compensate you through their insurance company or pay you directly out of their pocket.

It’s entirely up to the other driver which option they choose to proceed with, but they are legally required to cover costs if they’re at fault. If they claim through their insurance, their insurer will usually contact you for further details and to inspect your car as part of their process investigations.

If the at-fault driver refuses to pay, you can send them a letter of demand. This letter requests them to pay for the damage they caused and should include:

  • The date, time and location where the incident took place
  • The amount they must pay for the damage they caused
  • Any other costs you’re claiming as a direct result of the accident
  • When the money should be paid
  • How you should receive the funds
  • What happens if they don’t pay (i.e., legal action).

You’ll usually be required to obtain a quote for repairs to ensure the amount you’re asking for is correct. If the at-fault driver refuses to pay this money or respond to your request, you may need to take the case to court to recover your costs, but there are time limits for making these types of claims in court.

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Frequently asked questions

How is a driver deemed at fault for an accident?

While it’s possible for more than one person to be responsible for a motor vehicle accident, a driver may be considered at fault if:

  • They’re driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • They rear-end the vehicle in front of them
  • They don’t follow road rules, such as giving way, driving the speed limit, stopping at stop signs, or following traffic light signals
  • They admit to causing the accident.

Keep in mind that even if you’re technically not at fault, claiming responsibility for the accident at the scene could lead to you paying for the damages. Only admit liability if you have caused an accident.

What details should I take when I’m involved in a not-at-fault accident without insurance?

At a minimum, you should exchange details with the at-fault driver; take the driver’s name, address, phone number, licence details and car registration number. The more information about the crash you’ve got, the better your chances will be of getting compensated.

Some other details you should consider recording include:

  • Writing down exactly what happened as soon as you can after the accident. Even if you jot it down on your phone. Also, make sure you note the date and time of the incident, as well as where it occurred.
  • Witness statements from the scene. Did anyone else witness the accident? Get their contact details or ask they send you a description of what they saw.
  • Photos and videos. As well as damage to your vehicle, take photographs and video footage of the accident scene. It’s better to take these photos before you move your car from the scene. Also, consider if any witnesses captured the accident on their dashcams.
  • Police reports. In Australia, a non-injury traffic crash incident should be brought to the attention of the police if the other party involved in the crash refuses to supply their details. Usually, the police only need be involved if there is injury or loss of life, damage to public property, the crash is a result of criminal activity, or the incident causes a traffic hazard.

What happens in a car accident if no one has insurance?

If another driver causes an accident and neither of you has car insurance, remember that they’re still required to pay for the damage they’ve caused to the vehicle and for any property damage. You should still record as much information about the incident and the other driver as you can.

The other uninsured driver may be reluctant to pay or admit they’re at fault, which is why going through the hassle of gathering evidence is crucial in getting your car repaired. In these instances, you may want to seek legal advice as to how to proceed.

Depending on the type of accident, the at-fault driver may also have to pay if your vehicle requires towing, if you’ve hired a rental car as a replacement vehicle while yours is out of action and for any damage to personal property.

Can I claim my car’s damage on the at-fault driver’s insurance?

You cannot claim through another driver’s insurance company; the at-fault motorist would be required to lodge a car insurance claim through their insurance to begin the process of compensation for the loss or damages to your vehicle and property. You are legally entitled to be compensated for your losses and expenses as caused by the at-fault driver, so this would typically be handled through the at-fault driver’s insurance policy.

Do not-at-fault accidents affect insurance if I take out a policy afterwards?

Yes, your insurance is likely to be affected by your past accidents (whether at fault or not). Your accident history will carry through when taking out a new car insurance policy, as your driving history will always be of interest when insurers are assessing your risk as a driver.

It’s, therefore, imperative that you are honest and upfront with your insurance provider when taking out a new policy or updating one, and a previous car accident is something you may need to mention to your insurer. You also can’t make a car insurance claim for any damage or incidents that happened before you took out the policy.

If the at-fault driver pays anyway, why do I need insurance?

Generally, the most fundamental reason for purchasing car insurance is to cover you in the event that you are the at-fault driver and cause damage to another person’s vehicle or property. As you would be liable for loss and damages to the other party, it’s a good idea to at least have a third-party insurance policy in place to cover your liability for damage costs.

While at-fault drivers are required to pay if they cause damage in an accident, this process doesn’t always run smoothly. For example, the at-fault drivers themselves may not be insured and unable to pay for the damage they’ve caused.

You’ll also be forced to deal with the at-fault party’s insurance company if that’s the route they choose and may have little say in how the repairs proceed. There is also the possibility that you could be left out-of-pocket if it’s determined you were at fault.

Taking out comprehensive car insurance is an option to avoid some of these scenarios. As well as covering damage you may cause to other vehicles, comprehensive insurance covers your car for any damages to your own regardless of who’s at fault. There’s also the peace of mind you get with knowing that your car will also be covered for damage caused by storms, hail, theft, fires and more.

If you’re not looking for top-notch cover, Third Party Fire and Theft insurance can cover the damages you cause to another vehicle in an accident, as well as your own car if it’s damaged by fire or stolen. Third Party Property Damage covers other people’s vehicles as well as their property if you cause an accident, but it won’t protect your vehicle.

Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurance, which all cars are legally required to have to drive on Australian roads, only covers you if you injure or kill someone while behind the wheel.

Check the relevant Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) from any provider prior to taking out any insurance policy where you will find out all the inclusions, exclusions and benefits to suit you.

Stephen Zeller, General Manager

What to do if you’re involved in a not-at-fault accident without insurance: Tips from our car insurance expert, Stephen Zeller

  1. Make sure you take the time to gather all the necessary details from the at-fault party immediately after the collision. This includes the other person’s licence number, registration number, car information, contact details and, if you can, their car insurer.
  2. Make a claim against the responsible driver/owner as soon as possible to avoid issues with the other party’s insurer. At the very least, get a repair quote as soon as you can after the accident to avoid disputes.
  3. If you’re not satisfied with the repairs after your car has been returned to you , make sure you go back to the repairer immediately. This will reduce or avoid any further disputes.
  4. You might want to consider taking out car insurance to cover your car in future accidents. Doing this will also cover any damage that you may cause to cars or the property of others.
  5. For broader coverage, you should consider comprehensive car insurance. This type of insurance will not only cover the damages to both your vehicle and another driver regardless of who’s at fault, you’ll also be covered for a wide range of other events, like fires, storms and theft.

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