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I’m not-at-fault of an accident and I don’t have insurance. What are my rights?

If another driver causes an accident and damages your vehicle, they’d be responsible for covering your repair costs. This means you’d be entitled to claim compensation, providing the other driver was ‘at-fault’. Similarly, if you’re at-fault for a car accident without insurance, you’d have to pay for any damage you cause.

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

Without insurance, your main point of contact is the driver who caused the accident and you’ll need to go through them for any compensation. They can either:

  • compensate you through their insurance company; or
  • pay you directly out-of-pocket.

It’s entirely up to them how they choose to proceed, but know 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. With no insurance, you won’t have a say in how their insurer proceeds with their 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 amount they must pay for the damage they caused;
  • any other costs you’re trying to claim as a direct result of the accident;
  • when the money should be paid;
  • how you should receive the funds; and
  • what happens if they don’t pay (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 cough up the money or respond to your request, you may need to take the case to court to recover your costs. There are time limits for making these types of claims in court.

man upset after car accident

Frequently asked questions

How is a driver deemed at-fault of an accident?

Car accidents can happen in the blink of an eye and it’s vital to establish who the at-fault driver was. Knowing who’s at fault determines who’ll be responsible for footing the bill. While it’s possible for more than one person to be responsible for an 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; or
  • 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?

Whether you’re at fault of an accident or not, you should always exchange details with the other driver(s) involved. This will make it easier for either party to lodge a claim if they need to. At a minimum, you should get the at-fault driver’s name, address, contact 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. Also consider:

  • writing down exactly what happened as soon as you can after the accident. Even if you jot it down on your phone, make sure you note the date and time of the incident, as well as where it occurred;
  • getting witness statements from the scene. Did anyone else witness the accident? Get their contact details or request they send you a copy of what they saw; and
  • taking photos and videos. As well as damage to your vehicle, take photographs and video footage of the scene of the accident. 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 dashcam.

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

If another driver causes an accident and neither of you have 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.

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

Can’t I claim my car’s damage on the at-fault driver’s insurance?

No, you can’t claim on an at-fault driver’s insurance for damage they cause to your car. They certainly have the choice of going through their insurer to cover your costs, but it’s entirely up to them how they want to proceed. The claim you make will be directly against the at-fault driver.

If at-fault drivers pay anyway, why do I need insurance?

While at-fault drivers are required to pay if they cause damage in an accident, this process doesn’t always run smoothly. They may not be insured and unable to pay for the damage, they may not cooperate, it might take some time for your car to be repaired and you could be left out-of-pocket if it’s determined you were at fault.

You’ll also be forced to deal with their insurance company if that’s the route they choose and may have little say in how the repairs proceed.

Taking out Comprehensive car insurance is an option to avoid these scenarios. As well as covering damage you may cause to other vehicles, Comprehensive insurance also covers your car for damage – regardless of who’s at fault, however at fault accidents will typically attract an excess payment. There’s also peace of mind that your car will be covered for damage caused by storms and hail, as well as theft.

Third Party Fire and Theft insurance won’t cover your car’s damage if you’re at fault of an accident, but it will cover your car if it’s damaged by fire or stolen. Third Party Property covers other people’s vehicle, as well as their property, if you cause an accident, but again, it won’t protect your vehicle.

Compulsory Third Party insurance – which all cars require in order to drive on Australian roads – only covers you if you injure or kill someone while behind the wheel.

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