How to Claim Car Insurance in Australia: A Complete Guide

Making a car insurance claim can be a stressful experience, especially if it’s your first time going through the process. This article provides a comprehensive guide on how to successfully lodge and settle a car insurance claim in Australia.

We’ll cover the step-by-step process, documents required, tips for getting your claim approved, how payouts work, and frequently asked questions. Follow these steps and you’ll be prepared to get the best outcome when claiming on your car insurance policy.

Step 1: Assess and Document the Damage

  • If your car is involved in an accident, assess the damage and take photos from all angles. This creates a record of the condition of your car that you can refer back to.
  • For incidents like theft, vandalism or storm damage, take photos of the aftermath and any evidence like broken glass.
  • Make notes of damage and losses. This can include car parts, personal items stolen if the car was broken into, or injuries sustained.
  • Get a quote from a repairer for the repair costs. This will help your insurer determine if the car should be repaired or written off.

Step 2: Lodge Your Claim

  • Call your insurer as soon as possible to lodge a claim. There are usually tight deadlines, so don’t delay.
  • Have your policy details ready, as well as details of the incident like location, date and time. Provide information about the other parties involved if applicable.
  • Ask what documents you need to submit and if your insurer requires the car to be inspected.
  • If at fault, lodge at-fault claims with each insurer (yours and the other parties’).

Step 3: Complete Required Documents

Required Documents
  • Fill out your insurer’s claim form in full and return it promptly with the below documents:
  • Copy of driver’s license
  • Proof of ownership of the insured car like registration papers
  • Quotes for car repairs
  • Photos documenting damage, losses and injuries
  • Police report number if one was obtained
  • For accidents, also provide the registration, insurance details and driver’s license of the other party/ies involved.

Step 4: Have Your Car Inspected

  • Your insurer will usually inspect your car themselves or appoint an assessor.
  • The assessor will examine the car and evaluate the damage against your photos and repair quotes.
  • Be present at the inspection if possible, or provide detailed notes to the assessor ahead of time if not.
  • Answer any questions about pre-existing damage honestly.

Step 5: Negotiate the Settlement Offer

  • Your insurer will provide a settlement offer after reviewing your documentation and inspecting the car.
  • Negotiate politely if the offer seems unfair compared to your evidence and repair quotes.
  • Provide supplementary documentation like additional repair quotes to help justify a higher settlement.
  • Be prepared to compromise, as insurers won’t necessarily pay out the full amount you ask for.

Step 6: Get Repairs Done and Pay Excess

  • Once you accept a settlement offer, you can get repairs done by your preferred repairer.
  • Pay your policy excess to the repairer when you collect your car. This must be paid before the insurer will release the settlement funds.
  • Check the repairs thoroughly before accepting the car back. Immediately notify the repairer of any unsatisfactory work.

Step 7: Collect Reimbursement of Other Losses

  • For incidental losses like rental car fees or stolen personal items, submit evidence like receipts to your insurer.
  • Be sure to claim before the deadline, usually 30 days from lodging the claim.
  • You’ll be reimbursed for approved amounts as part of your overall settlement.

Step 8: Follow Up on Any Additional Claims

  • If injuries were sustained, follow up with a personal injury claim against the at-fault party’s compulsory third party (CTP) insurance.
  • Your insurer can’t assist with injury claims, as this must be directed to the at-fault party’s CTP insurer.
  • A personal injury lawyer can help get you the maximum payout you are entitled to.

How the Claim Payout is Calculated

Insurers will determine settlement payouts based on:

  • Your policy coverage and excesses. Damage that falls under your exclusions will not be paid out.
  • Quotes from your repairer vs their own assessor’s report.
  • The assessed market value of your car if it is written off. This takes into account the make, model, age, condition and kilometres travelled.
  • The maximum amount covered under your policy for incidental expenses, lost personal items etc.
  • Deductions for any pre-existing damage, unpaid premiums or excesses.
  • Negotiations with you and the result of any independent assessments if there is a dispute over value.

Tips for Getting Your Car Insurance Claim Approved

Follow these tips to avoid problems and get the best payout:

  • Read your policy so you understand exactly what is covered and the claims process.
  • Take detailed records of the incident, damage and losses straight away.
  • Make sure your car is insured for its current market value, to avoid under-insurance.
  • Lodge your claim with your insurer promptly, even if not at fault.
  • Be truthful when answering questions from your insurer to avoid fraud allegations.
  • Get multiple quotes and present realistic evidence to support your claim.
  • Negotiate politely but firmly if you feel the settlement offer is unfair.
  • Avoid making repairs, accepting payouts or disposing of your car until your claim is finalised.
  • Be thorough when checking repaired cars before re-taking possession.
  • Follow up with the at-fault party’s CTP insurer about injury claims.

Frequently Asked Questions

What damage can I claim for under car insurance?

You can make a claim for any accident, weather event, theft or vandalism damage that falls under your policy coverage. This includes the cost of repairs or the market value if the car is a total loss. Related towing, storage and rental car costs can also be claimed.

Will my premium increase after claiming?

Making one or two small claims generally won’t affect your premium. However, if you make multiple claims your insurer may increase your premium, add an excess or not renew your policy.

How long does it take to settle a car insurance claim?

Most straightforward claims can be settled in under two weeks. More complex claims involving disputes or uninsured third parties may take several months to settle.

Can I choose the repairer for my car?

Yes, you can select any licensed repairer. However, your insurer may recommend repairers they have arrangements with to minimise costs.

What if I disagree with my insurer’s payout offer?

You can ask your insurer to review their offer if you believe it’s unfair. Provide additional quotes or independent assessments to help negotiate a higher settlement. If you reach an impasse you can lodge a complaint with AFCA.

Will my insurance cover a rental car during repairs?

Rental car coverage depends on your policy. Comprehensive insurance generally includes some provision for rental reimbursement for the reasonable time it takes to repair your car. Always check with your insurer first.

Am I covered for damage caused by hitting animals?

Hitting animals like kangaroos is covered under standard comprehensive car insurance policies, subject to your policy excesses and limits. You must report the incident to your insurer.

What documents do I need when claiming on car insurance?

Typical documents needed are your driver’s license, policy schedule, photos of damage, repair quotes, police report number, rental receipts, and for accidents – the contact details of all parties involved.

Can I still drive my car after an accident?

You can only drive your car after an accident if it is still roadworthy and safe. Your insurer will assess whether it can be safely driven when inspecting the damage. Don’t continue driving it if unsafe.

How does a car insurance excess work when claiming?

You must pay your policy excess as your contribution to any claim before your insurer will release the payout. If claiming from multiple policies you may have to pay multiple excesses.

Claiming on your car insurance doesn’t need to be difficult if you understand the process. Follow this guide and you can get your car repaired or receive fair compensation with minimum stress or delay. Just be sure to take the time to get the documentation right, negotiate fairly with your insurer and never make fraudulent claims.

Click to rate Fix My Speaker!
[Total: 3 Average: 5]

Leave a Comment