Before making a claim on an insurance company it is worth considering that:
- you may have to pay an excess (the amount you agreed to pay the insurer in the event of the claim) before the insurance company contributes anything
- in the case of motor vehicle insurance, you may lose part or all of your no-claim bonus, which means that the next year’s premium could cost more.
If you are unable to pay the excess because of financial hardship, you may still make a claim. You may request the insurer to take the excess out of any payment you will receive. If you will not be receiving any payment, but the insurer will be paying a repairer or someone else on your behalf, you may ask the insurer to make the payment to them and then accept the excess from you in instalments.
Making the Claim
There are a number of things you can do to help the insurer process your claim quickly and efficiently, and reduce the possibility of complications. In particular, you should:
- cooperate with the insurer’s loss assessors
- fully notify the insurer promptly
- provide as much information and evidence as you can in support of your claim.
You should notify the insurance company of the event as soon as possible. Notification by phone should be followed up in writing, and the letter should include all relevant details of the incident. It is not advisable for non native speakers of English to make a claim by phone.
If possible, you should include documents to support the claim.
Keep Records for Insurance Purposes
It is a good idea to keep records — receipts, valuations, serial numbers, photos and so on. Accurate records help in getting a claim paid promptly.
Someone who has been burgled should take photos, contact neighbours for statements, and arrange for a third party to witness the scene if there will be a delay in the police attending. A list of items stolen must be provided. If you later need to add any items to the list originally submitted to the insurer you should explain why these items were missed off the first list.
Motor Vehicle Accidents
If your car has been damaged in an accident you may need to arrange to:
- store the damaged car at a repair shop while it is decided who will pay for the repairs
- hire a replacement car.
You may not be able to recover these costs from your insurer, or from the other driver or their insurer (even if they were at fault).
You should not arrange to store your car or hire a replacement without getting your insurer to agree to it, preferably in writing, unless you can afford to pay for it yourself.
The Insurance Reference Service
The Insurance Reference Service is Australia’s only national database of insurance claims. It offers an easily accessible record of insurance claims by individuals. Some insurance companies use this database in deciding whether to accept an insurance proposal or as part of the investigation process when a claim is made.
Most people don’t know that the service exists. Consumers have a right of free access to the database, and can correct inaccurate information on it. To order a report detailing your claims history see the Insurance Reference Service website at http://insurancereferenceservices.com.au/about .
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.