23rd May, 2017 | 3 minutes

Making an insurance claim after a car accident

by David Harris
Insurance Geek

If you’ve just been in a car accident, it’s unlikely that you’re reading this article from the side of the road, adrenalin pumping through your veins. No, you’ve probably made it home to a calming cuppa, and are now trying to work out if you did the right things back at the scene of the accident.

Online, you’ll find loads of great articles about what to do in the immediate aftermath of an accident, like this one from CarsGuide. These articles give you very useful advice about what to do, like:

  • If people are hurt, call an ambulance straight away. You may have to administer first aid to people who are seriously injured.
  • If cars are on fire or smoking, or if people are trapped, call the fire brigade.
  • If you suspect the other driver is affected by drugs or alcohol, call the police. You’ll also need to call the police if there is property damage, like street signs that need replacing.
  • Try to remain calm and don’t accuse anyone of being at fault.
  • Don’t admit fault, even if you think you caused the accident. In some cases, even though you think you might have caused the accident, you may be legally in the right.
  • Swap contact details with other parties involved, including: their insurer; the make, colour and model of their car; their car rego; their license number; and the contact details of the car’s owner.
  • Take photos of the accident scene.
  • If needed, organise a tow truck.

That’s a lot to remember when you’ve just had an accident! But hopefully, with the help of other people at the accident scene, you’ve done everything you needed to do at the time of the accident and are now home – albeit with a damaged car (or, worse, without a car because it was towed to a mechanic).

Now what? Who pays for the damage to your car? How do you make a claim on your car insurance, or get the other person’s insurer to pay if it was their fault?

Making a car insurance claim

If you have car insurance – no matter whether it’s comprehensive or just third party fire and theft – then you should call your insurer (or go online) and tell them about the accident.

Every insurer and policy is different, and there are different rules and processes to go through depending on who you’re with and what type of insurance you’ve got. Typically, your insurer will want to know the date, location and details of the incident – including the name and contact details of other drivers. You may even need to submit drawings that show how the accident happened.

Your insurer will then try to find out if the other party has insurance, and will confirm who was at fault. If the damage was minor, you may be better off not claiming, as the repairs may cost less than your excess. If the repair bill is through the roof, then your car may end up being a write-off – which means you could be up for a new car.

Don’t forget, always try to get as much back from your insurer as you can. Ask them to pay for things like towing and car hire if they haven’t already offered to.

Review your car insurance

Once you’ve gone through the process of making a claim on your car insurance, you may be left with a bitter taste in your mouth. If the experience of dealing with your insurer wasn’t as smooth as you’d expected, then perhaps it’s time to review your car insurance and find an insurance company that has got your back.

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iSelect does not compare all products in the market. Not all products are available at all times. Any advice provided in this content is of a general nature and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. You need to consider the appropriateness of any information or general advice we give you, having regard to your personal situation, before acting on our advice or purchasing any product.

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