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Car insurance claims

There are 3 main steps to making a car insurance claim – gathering evidence, contacting your insurer and filling out the paperwork.

What you need to know

  • You can make a car insurance claim for any loss or damage, so long as your policy covers you.
  • Contact your insurer as soon as it is safe to let them know what has happened.
  • If you are in a car accident with another driver, you will need to get a few details from them.

How to claim against someone else's car insurance

There are a lot of details to exchange in the event of an accident, so try familiarising yourself with the following details. Take them down on your phone or have some pre-filled forms in the car to make life easier.

  • Name
  • Time, date and location of the incident
  • Contact number
  • Address
  • Vehicle registration
  • License number
  • Details of their CTP insurer and policy
  • A brief description of what happened
phone icon
Get photo evidence
Take picture and video evidence with your phone at the scene – this makes sure your insurer has all they need to successfully process your claim.

How to submit a car insurance claim

Number 1

Gather information about the incident

Here's a checklist of what you'll need

  • Information about the driver
  • A description of what happened
  • A police report number (if the police were at the incident)
  • Contact details of any witnesses
Number 2

Contact your insurer

Get in touch with your insurer as soon as possible to let them know that you were involved in a car accident and what happened. If you have comprehensive car insurance, you might be entitled to a hire car or accommodation, depending on what happened. They can also let you know if you need to pay an excess.

Number 3

Submit your claim

You can usually do this in one of the following ways

  1. Online or using an app
  2. Over the phone
  3. In the mail or in person

How long does it take for an insurance claim to be processed?

According to the General Insurance Code of Practice, your insurance provider has 10 business days from the day they receive your claim to respond with the outcome. If they need more time to decide, they will let you know in advance.

What to do if you're not at fault

Legal Aid recommends that you write a letter after the accident to let the other driver know you intend to make a claim against them.

This is a good idea if it's going to take a while to receive a repair quote. The other driver should then pass the letter on to their insurer – provided they have cover – unless they would rather pay for the damages personally.

You should then spend time getting at least two quotes for the cost of repairs so as to show they are fairly priced. Make photocopies of the quotes and keep hold of the originals. You should also add on any additional costs to do with the accident, such as towing costs.

Car insurance claim time limit in Australia

There usually isn't a fixed deadline for car insurance claims as some damage settlements can take years to be finalised. This means that while insurers don't generally set a time limit, they depend on your full cooperation, so you should let them know if you've been in an accident as soon as possible.

The main exception is with injury claims, which are dealt with through CTP insurance and can sometimes be sorted in as little as a month. This is to ensure injured people get the benefits they are entitled to as soon as possible.

There are often time limits with your Police Event Number. If you need to report the accident to the police, this usually has to be done within 28 days in most states.

Traps that could lead to your claim being rejected

If you don't follow the terms and conditions of your insurance policy, then insurers may reject your car insurance claim. Look for:

  • Benefits. A common trap is to assume that a policy covers something when it doesn't. For example, you will probably need a comprehensive car insurance policy if you want to claim certain variety of types of damage, and cannot assume that you are covered for anything in specific.
  • Exclusions. These are conditions where the policy will not pay out. Exclusions will typically apply for driving under the influence and otherwise being reckless behind the wheel, but there may be more specific ones such as exclusions for accidents that occur within a certain distance of your home, or beyond a certain amount.
  • Your obligations. Not getting unapproved repairs and not offering to settle damage with other parties are two common obligations you will encounter in car insurance policies. Not following these can be used as valid grounds to decline a claim.

Who to contact if you are not satisfied with your claim

If you are not happy with how your insurer has handled your claim, and after going through your PDS believe you are in the right, then you can contact the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) for a resolution.

Why you can trust Finder's car insurance experts

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Finder survey: How long do car insurance claims take to be settled?

0-3 months65.18%
4-6 months23.21%
More than 6 months9.82%
It wasn't resolved1.79%
Source: Finder survey by Pure Profile of 1006 Australians, December 2023

FAQs about car insurance claims

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2 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    FelicityJuly 4, 2019

    My car has been damaged by someone. She is a green p-plater on her dad’s insurance. My damage comes to $2000, what would their excess be?

      JeniJuly 5, 2019Finder

      Hi Felicity,

      Thank you for getting in touch with Finder.

      We do not have the specific amount of excess as it varies per insurer and the level the driver sign up with. It starts from $600.

      I hope this helps.

      Thank you and have a wonderful day!


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