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Not at fault car insurance

How you can avoid paying for damage to your own car if you were involved in an accident where you weren't at fault.


Man in car

With car insurance, the issue of liability - who caused the accident - is really important. That's because whoever is deemed responsible for the accident usually needs to pick up the bill, which can be very expensive. If you're involved in a motor vehicle accident through no fault of your own and your car is damaged or written off, you have several options of receiving a payout from a car insurance claim.

Find out everything you need to know about not at fault car accidents and how you can make sure you get the compensation you deserve.

What happens if I'm in a car accident but I'm not at fault?

Your initial point of contact needs to be the driver who is at fault. If the other driver decides to claim on their insurance, the insurance company will most likely contact you to request information and possibly access to your car so its representatives can make an independent assessment of the damage. You have the option of assigning a lawyer to act on your behalf in these cases.

Send a letter of demand

If you believe you are not at fault, you can send a letter requesting that the other driver pays for the repairs and any losses. Attach a copy of the quote you have for repairs and keep a copy of the quote and letter. Request that they respond within a specific timeframe, for example 2 weeks. Remember to write 'without prejudice' on the top of the letter to protect yourself should it be taken to court.

Contact their insurer

If they fail to respond, you should inform the other person's insurance provider that you have both been involved in a crash with one another. Inform them of the facts of the accident. The insurer will independently make its own determination of who is at fault, taking into consideration the police report, driver and witness statements as well as any physical evidence.

I have no car insurance and someone hit me. What are my rights?

Even if you don't have insurance, you are entitled to compensation if the other driver was clearly at fault. You can send them a letter of demand with independent estimates for repairs and damage to your vehicle or property.

In this situation, the other party has a couple of options:

  • Go through their insurance. If they're insured, they can choose to make a claim from their insurer to cover what they owe you.
  • Not through insurance. On the other hand, they may choose not to, instead deciding to pay you with their own money.

What if the other driver refuses to pay?

If you are uninsured and they refuse to pay for whatever reason, you can issue a letter of demand for compensation. If they ignore this, you'll have to get a lawyer and take them to court.

Alternatively, if the damage or repair bill is small enough, there could be another legal recourse. If the amount you're seeking is less than $15,000 and the other driver is insured, you can lodge a complaint with the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) to seek your compensation.

In which scenarios would I be not at fault?

When two or more vehicles are involved in a motor accident, the percentage of liability is often shared between the parties. However, there are some situations in which only one driver is likely to be considered completely at fault. These include:

  • Admitting liability at the scene. In the aftermath of any accident, if Driver A says something like "I didn't see you" or even apologises to Driver B in the presence of witnesses, courts frequently consider this to be an admission of liability and Driver A will automatically be found at fault.
  • If one driver is intoxicated. Fault will typically be assigned to a driver who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, if the other driver is not intoxicated in any way.
  • Getting rear-ended by another driver. If someone runs into the back of your car, they will almost always be considered at fault.
  • Failing to obey a "give way" or "stop" sign. If it can be proven that the other driver failed to give way to you and you were driving legally, they will usually be found at fault unless there was any action you could have taken to prevent the accident (such as swerving or applying the brakes).
  • Running a red light. If another driver collides with you as a result of failing to obey a traffic signal, they will also be found at fault in most cases. Again, if you had any option of trying to prevent the accident, but failed to do so, you may be liable for contributing to the accident due to negligence.

It's worth noting that, when it comes to car insurance, liability is considered exclusively in relation to motor vehicle accidents. There are plenty of other situations in which your car can be damaged through no fault of your own, ranging from vandalism to bushfire or hail. Damage of this kind is usually covered by comprehensive car insurance, but you may still have to pay an applicable excess.

To claim or not to claim?

When thinking about whether or not to claim for an accident in which you're not at fault, the most relevant factor is whether you can get the other party to pay for the damage. If the liability for the accident can be swiftly and unequivocally determined – and that's a big "if" – then the best course of action is usually to approach the other driver.

In some cases, for example if the other party is uninsured and cannot pay you for the damage done to your vehicle, it does make sense to claim on your own insurance. If the damage to your car is very minor and you do not have a reasonable option of getting the other driver to pay for it, it's usually not worth making a claim.

Also, if an excess applies to your policy and the cost of repairing the damage is not much more than your excess level, it might not be worth the trouble of pursuing a claim when you're unlikely to receive much reimbursement.

Does my level of insurance impact what I can claim?

Comprehensive insurance usually covers you for all types of damage to your vehicle, regardless of whether or not you're at fault.

If your insurer agrees that the accident was completely the other driver's fault, you may be entitled to claim under a Third Party Property policy, or if you have a Third Party Fire and Theft policy. Many insurers stipulate that the other driver must not have insurance that can cover the damage to your vehicle for you to make this kind of claim, and the maximum benefit you will receive is usually $5,000. You will usually be expected to provide the other driver's name, address and registration number.

What do I need in order to make a claim?

When making a claim, you will need the following information:

  • Record the other driver's details. Your insurer will need their name, address and phone number, as well as the registration number of the car they were driving.
  • Make notes at the scene. Write a brief summary of what took place as soon as possible after the accident. Accounts that are recorded immediately after an incident are called "contemporaneous evidence" and they hold a lot of weight in court.
  • Ask witnesses for their contact details. If possible, ask any witnesses present to also jot down their description of what happened at the time of the accident.
  • Take photos of the scene. Pay particular attention to not only the damage your vehicle sustained, but the final resting positions of all the cars involved, any skid marks and damage to surrounding objects such as traffic lights. Add GPS tags to your photos if you have the option.
  • Submit any footage of the event. If you have a dash cam recording of the accident, this will also be very valuable for your insurer.

Will a claim affect my premium or my no-claim bonus?

In most cases, if your insurer agrees that the accident was caused exclusively by the other driver, you will not be penalised even if you make a claim.

Depending on your level of cover and the specific conditions listed on your certificate of insurance, there may be some circumstances under which your no-claim discount will be affected, even if you have purchased protection against this. Read your product disclosure statement (PDS) and certificate of insurance carefully to avoid any nasty surprises.

What happens if my car is written off but it's not my fault?

The other driver's insurer should pay you the actual cash value of your car before it was written off. There are two main categories your vehicle usually falls under when it's written off and different rules apply for each of them.

  • A statutory write-off: This means that your car will never be safe to drive again, no matter how much repair work goes into it, in which case it cannot be registered again.
  • A repairable write-off: This means that the cost of repairs exceeds the sum insured, and normally you or the other drivers insurer will keep the vehicle and pay you its agreed or market value.

You can make a request for your insurer to let you keep a repairable write-off, for example if it has sentimental value, and pay you the sum insured less any salvage value. Not all repairable write-offs can be legally re-registered, so this is an important point to check before applying to keep a badly damaged vehicle.

How to make a claim

If you do plan to make a claim with your own insurer, requesting a claim form is usually the safest option because you can carefully prepare your answers to all the questions. If your insurer offers the option of processing your claim over the phone, you run the risk of being put on the spot and not answering a question as well as you could have if you'd had the chance to think about it.

  • Take your time. Don't start the claim process while you are still in shock or emotionally upset after the accident.
  • Prepare yourself for a phone claim. If you decide to lodge your claim over the phone, think carefully about what you are going to say and keep your descriptions simple, neutral and objective. Remember that the conversation will normally be recorded by your insurer and may be referred to later in the process.
  • Refer to your notes. Use the summary you wrote down at the time of the accident to help you answer the questions on the claim form or over the phone.

Not happy with your current insurer? It might be time to switch

Name Product Roadside Assistance Accidental Damage Storm Choice of Repairer Agreed or Market Value
Budget Direct Comprehensive
Agreed or Market
Our 2019 Finder Award winner for Best Value Car Insurance.
Qantas Comprehensive
Agreed or Market
Earn up to 20,000 Qantas Points when you sign up. Points awarded will be based on your premium. T&Cs apply.
Youi Comprehensive
Agreed or Market
Emergency roadside assistance included in Comprehensive policies.
Coles Comprehensive
Agreed or Market
Save 10% when you buy online + collect double flybuys points at Coles Supermarkets. T&Cs apply.
Virgin Comprehensive
Grab a $100 e-Gift card when you purchase a new eligible Virgin Car Insurance policy by 30 September 2020. You’ll also save 15%. T&C's Apply.
Stella Comprehensive
Each new policy holder will receive a free 12 month magazine subscription to their favourite Bauer Media magazine.
Poncho Comprehensive
Temporary 30% reduction in your premium to help ease COVID pressure.
Real Comprehensive
Save up to 10% when you buy online.
Kogan Comprehensive
Save up to 10% when you buy online + $50 Credit.

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8 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    JennieDecember 30, 2018

    If your car was considered as salvage from the party that was at fault insurance company and gave you the cost of your car so that you can go buy another car but you still want to keep the car that was wrecked it still runs how does that work out?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JoshuaDecember 31, 2018Staff

      Hi Jennie,

      Thanks for getting in touch with finder. I’m sorry to hear about your car involved in an accident. I hope nothing serious happened to you.

      If an insurer decides to write off your car, you have two options. One is accept it and two is challenge it. Typically, if you accept the insurer’s decision to write off your car, they will most likely bring it to the junk shop and try to earn something from it. Thus, you wouldn’t be able to salvage it anymore.

      On the other hand, if you’re unhappy about your car being written off, and believe it can be repaired economically, you can challenge the insurer’s decision but you’ll have to act fast since, within days, the decision can become final.

      To learn more, you can also discuss your question with the insurer. Perhaps, they can also advise you about the best course of action to take.

      I hope this helps. Should you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach us out again.

      Have a wonderful day!


  2. Default Gravatar
    KartmanAugust 20, 2018

    My son crashed his motorcycle in a roundabout after he braked to avoid a taxi that had entered the roundabout from his left without giving way, which he would of hit if he didnt brake. The taxi driver has admitted fault but as there was no collision between motorcycle and taxi who pays the insurance?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JoshuaAugust 27, 2018Staff

      Hi Kartman,

      Thanks for getting in touch with finder. I hope all is well with you. :)

      I’m sorry to hear about the accident of your son. I hope your son will get well soon.

      Regarding your question, there are a few things you can do. First, you can file a personal injury claim against the taxi driver. In this case, you might need the help of a lawyer.

      Second, the taxi driver can also make a claim with their insurer and get your son covered for the injuries and property damage incurred.

      Third, you may check with your insurance as well if your son is covered as well. Some insurers have a special insurance for those clients who aren’t able to get cover from the at-fault party.

      I hope this helps. Should you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach us out again.

      Have a wonderful day!


  3. Default Gravatar
    MatyJune 16, 2018

    If someone drove my car and it was out of rego and got hit by another car from behind and smashed my car does the driver at fault still responsible to fix the damages

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JeniJune 16, 2018Staff

      Hi Maty,

      Thank you for getting in touch with finder.

      That’s really a tough situation. YES, the driver who drove your car is also at fault knowing that the car was out of rego. Each state has its own traffic rules and regulations so it is best to check what’s the best thing to do with your local authority. If your car is insured, kindly contact your insurer regarding this situation to seek further advice/help.

      I hope this helps. Please feel free to reach out to us if you have any other enquiries.

      Thank you and have a wonderful day!


  4. Default Gravatar
    cbJanuary 26, 2018

    I was in a car accident not my fault (third-party insurance accept liability), the car has been at the repair shop for 3 weeks 4 days, the car is under ‘finance’. Do I still make repayments for a car I don’t have in my possession/use? Also been informed by repairer it could take another 2 weeks to complete repair (if parts arrive on time). So maybe 2months in loan repayments. Hope you can assist me in this. Thanks

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      RenchFebruary 1, 2018Staff

      Hi CB,

      Thanks for reaching out to us.

      If I got you’re inquiry correctly, you’re asking if you still need to pay your loan repayments for your car even though it’s not in your possession or not in use? In this case, you’ll still need to make your loan repayments with your lender to also avoid late payment fees. I suggest contacting your lender to explain your situation and inquire.

      Best regards,

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