Airbag recall could affect car insurance

Posted: 9 August 2018 3:51 am
Car crash warning triangle

Insurance experts and personal legal law specialists issue stark warning for failing to act on Takata airbag recall.

Last week, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) launched a nationwide air bag recall awareness campaign aimed at the nearly two million Australians who still need to check whether they have the faulty Takata airbag installed. Now, legal and insurance experts are weighing in about the potential insurance ramifications.

Neglectful drivers may not receive insurance payout

Director of personal legal services at Bennett and Philp Lawyers Mark O’Connor has offered a warning to those who fail to act before their airbag deploys in an accident.

“If you are a car owner and ignore the national recall, then later on have an accident where the faulty airbag deploys, you could have a major insurance headache on top of any physical injuries caused by the airbag,” O’Connor said.

But the danger goes beyond the physical, with O'Connor warning that drivers who ignored the recall and suffered injuries as a result, may not receive any compensation from insurers.

"In normal circumstances, you would make a claim against the other party's compulsory third-party (CTP) cover. But if you have repeatedly ignored the recall and continue to drive an unsafe vehicle, then the CTP insurer of the responsible vehicle may refuse to compensate you for the injuries," he said.

O’Connor explained further how insurers could assert a driver’s own inaction actually contributed to the injuries arising from an accident.

“In such situations the insurer could argue your inaction over the airbag recall has caused or contributed to any injuries suffered in the accident,” said O'Connor.

Only half of the affected vehicles have been checked

Within the first week of launching, 1.23 million vehicle checks were carried out. The site enables you to quickly check if your car has a Takata alpha airbag device fitted. Of those checked, one car in nine need a replacement and the owners were advised on how to arrange this.

FCAI’s chief executive Tony Weber is pleased with the promotion and widespread awareness it had generated but is keenly aware that there is still more work to do.

“There are just over 3 million vehicles across Australia affected by the Takata recall and the industry is now about halfway through that task. There’s a lot of airbag inflator replacement work going on in dealerships right around the country,” he said.

To contact more motorists, a radio awareness campaign will start broadcasting later this month to reach regional areas. The core message to take home is the same, no matter how a driver hears about the recall.

“The key message is the same: check your vehicle. And if you are contacted by your brand about the recall, it’s vital that you act on that advice promptly,” Weber said.

Airbags needing replacement by state and territory

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Picture: Shutterstock

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