Making a claim depends on the type of insurance you have.
What are the main types of insurance in Western Australia?
There are three main types of insurance for motorists in Western Australia:
- compulsory third party insurance
- comprehensive insurance
- third party property damage.
Compulsory third party insurance
This is automatically paid for when you register your car. The cost is included in your registration.
It covers you for personal injury claims made against you as the owner of the car, but does NOT cover damage to cars or property.
Comprehensive insurance covers damage to your car, damage to other cars and damage to property. Some policies also cover towing, hire care costs, medical and even legal costs.
Different policies cover different things so you should check your own policy to see if your insurance company covers these items.
Third party property damage
Property damage to other cars is the most common of all insurance claims.
This type of insurance covers you only for damage to other cars and the property of other people unless you have uninsured motorist extension. Some third party fire and theft, and third party property insurance offers this extension. It covers damage to your car up to a set amount if your car is damaged by an uninsured car - if you:
- are considered to be not at fault by the insurer, and
- can provide the uninsured driver's name and address.
Check your policy to see what you are covered for.
People often choose this if their car is not worth enough for comprehensive insurance.
When do insurance companies not pay claims?
Most insurance policies have special rules about when they will or won't pay.
It is important to read your policy carefully and understand what type of cover you have.
Some common examples of where insurance companies will not pay are:
- Failing to report an accident to the police or to the insurance company.
- The driver of the car was under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- The driver of the car was unlicensed, whether the owner knew or not.
- Poor car maintenance. For example, if your brakes were faulty and that was what caused the accident.
- If you have provided false details about your claim or your driving history.
If your insurance company refuses to pay your claim you should get legal advice.
Even if you tell your insurance company about the accident you do not have to claim through them.
You can pay for repairs yourself, or demand payment from the other driver, without using your insurance policy.
Get legal advice if you wish to demand payment without using your insurance company.
For more information, see Making a claim - not using your insurance or uninsured.
What should I consider before making a claim on my insurance for property damage?
Before making a claim on your insurance think about:
- Most insurance policies do not cover your entire claim. They include a sum of money you must pay towards any accident. This is called an "excess".
- Before making a claim on your comprehensive insurance policy, it is important to check if you have to pay an excess, and if so, how much it is.
- No claim bonus:
- Most insurance companies offer discounts if you have not made a claim before.
- Ask your insurance company whether you will lose your no claim bonus if you make a claim. Some companies allow you to keep your bonus under certain circumstances.
If you only have third party property insurance, it only covers you for damage you do to another person's car or property unless you also have uninsured motorist extension.
If you can’t pay your excess because you are in financial difficulty, you can write to your insurer asking to:
• have the excess deducted from the claim to be paid to you or
• offering to pay the excess in instalments.
If the insurer refuses your request, you can make a complaint to the insurer through its internal dispute resolution process. If this is unsuccessful and if you are still in dispute you can go to the independent Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) or get legal advice
For more information, see Claim made against you if the other driver believes you are at fault.
How do I make a claim on the other driver’s insurance for property damage?
Download a sample letter of demand if you believe the other driver to be at fault and are making a claim on the other driver's insurance. You can also download a sample copy of an accompanying letter to be sent to the other party's insurance company.
What if I have a complaint about my insurance?
At first you should make a complaint to the insurance company. Insurers should have an internal dispute resolution (IDR) process in place. Read your policy papers carefully. They should include information on your rights, options, and how to lodge a complaint. A letter to FOS can be completed online ay the Insurance Law Service (Financial Rights Legal Centre) website.
If the complaint cannot be resolved in this way, you should take it to the FOS. Contact the FOS on 1800 367 287 (between Monday to Friday 9:00am - 5:00pm EST).
You may also be able to get advice on insurance law or on resolving a dispute with an insurer from the Insurance Law Service on 1300 663 464 (Monday to Wednesday 9:30 - 4:30 EST).
Where can I get more information?
- Contact Legal Aid WA's Infoline on 1300 650 579 for information and referral including to obtain a copy of the information sheet Motor vehicle accidents - dealing with the damage. You can also get a copy from any Legal Aid WA office. This information sheet covers claims for damage and injury including insurance claims after a motor vehicle accident and includes sample letters.
- For assistance with debts owed to insurance companies where you are in financial hardship contact the Insurance Law Service on 1300 663 464. Letters on a range of motor car accident insurance issues can be created on its website. Factsheets which may assist can also be viewed on its website.
Last reviewed: 20/04/2017