Car accident with no insurance (but not at fault) in Victoria
Car accidents can be traumatic enough, until you remember you don’t have insurance – which causes more stress.
This page should help you if you’ve been in a car accident and you don’t have insurance, but the other party was at fault.
After the accident
Hopefully you obtained the contact details and registration details of the other driver.
If you didn’t, then you should do your best to find out who they were. This may involve contacting other witnesses that may have been at the scene (assuming you obtained their contact information?). You can also contact the police.
If all you got was the registration details, then you should report the matter to them.
The first contact with the other driver
You should get in contact with the other party as possible after the accident. The sooner the better.
You’ve got a couple of options as to how you get in contact with them.
The first option is to telephone them.
On the phone, make sure to be respectful and polite. Even if you’re angry.
There’s no need to tell them that you don’t have insurance.
Just let them know that you want to pursue a claim via their insurance company. Ask them to provide you with their insurance company’s contact information.
Sometimes they may provide this information to you on the phone, or they may say that they will send it to you.
Whatever happens during the phone call, make sure to write down what you said and what they said. Keep a detailed record (as detailed as possible) of the conversation.
The notes of this conversation may be very important down the track.
The alternative to calling is to send them a text message or email
Again, in your correspondence be polite and courteous and just let them know that you wish to obtain their insurers contact information.
If they don’t provide you with the contact information
If they don’t provide you with the contact information of the insurer within a few days after you contacted them, you should follow them up again.
Again, you should be polite and courteous and just ask for them to provide the information to you because you want to get the claim going as soon as possible.
If they don’t provide you with the contact information within a reasonable amount of time then I’d suggest doing one of two things:
Either send them written correspondence in the form of a text message or email letting them know that you’ve asked for the information and it hasn’t been forthcoming and that if they don’t provide it to you as a matter of urgency you will contact a lawyer.
The second option is that you contact a lawyer and ask the lawyer to send a letter of demand on your behalf. Keep in mind though that most lawyers will bill you for this work.
Once you have the insurance information
The next step is to call the insurance company and tell them about your accident. Hopefully there is a claim on foot already.
One thing: be careful about what you say about how the accident happened. Keep in mind that the insurance company needs to determine the claim and that includes determining fault. Make sure what you say is accurate.
The insurance company may want you to complete some forms which you should read carefully.
You should obtain repair cost quotes for your vehicle from a licensed repairer. Even if your vehicle is written off, you should get a vehicle repairer to confirm this in writing.
This information and material needs to be sent off to the insurance company to consider.
It’s your choice as to whether you want to go ahead and get the vehicle repaired (if it’s not a write off) before getting approval to do so from the insurance company.
Keep in mind though that if for example it costs $20,000 to repair your car, the insurance company may only offer you part of that and there is a chance that you may be out of pocket.
For this reason we recommend not getting your car fixed until the insurance company has given you the approval to do so and you know how much they are going to pay you.
They may also wish to have your vehicle assessed by an assessor of their choosing.
You should allow them to do so in our opinion.
If you’re not happy with the assessment done by their assessor then you can always obtain a further assessment.
Make sure to jump online and see what similar vehicles are being sold for. Checkout Carsales and Redbook. In relation to Redbook though, vehicles can sometimes be underassessed on there, particularly if your vehicle is unique.
Hopefully you can come to some sort of an agreement with the insurance company on vehicle value and then the matter can resolve relatively quickly.
What if I can’t reach an agreement with the insurer as to vehicle value?
If you can’t come to an agreement as to the value of the vehicle then it can be worthwhile engaging a lawyer to help you.
You can save you some money in the long run.
However, you obviously need to consider what the differences are between what you are claiming and what the insurance company is offering.
For example, if the difference is $500 then you might want to reconsider hiring a lawyer because they might cost that and then some.
But if it is tens of thousands of dollars then yes in that case hiring a lawyer will likely be worthwhile.
What if the other driver doesn’t have insurance?
If the other driver hasn’t got insurance, then you’d need to pursue them personally for any damage to your vehicle.
The first step in doing so should be to send a letter of demand which you can do yourself or alternatively, engage a lawyer to write one for you.
Essentially a letter of demand will ask the person to pay any costs that you are claiming, such as the cost of the vehicle and any related costs.
If the letter of demand doesn’t get the person to pay, then you’d need to pursue the matter to the Magistrates’ Court or VCAT.
This can be a costly exercise. So if your car is only worth a couple of thousand dollars for example, then you may not want to go down this route.
However if it makes commercial sense to do so then you should pursue the matter to court.
Keep in mind that if the court makes an order that the other person is responsible for the costs that you are claiming, if the other person does not have any money to pay you, you’ll receive nothing.
If they don’t have enough to pay you but they do have an income, one option is to ask the court to make what’s called an attachment of earnings order.
This basically means that every set period, say every week, the person will be required to pay a certain amount of money towards the debt until it is paid off.
Obviously this is not as attractive as having the whole thing paid off at once but it is better than nothing.
If you get an order against the other person and they do not pay by the time that they are supposed to pay, if they have assets then the sheriff can be called in to seize some of their property which can be sold to make good the debt.
Obviously going down this route and suing someone is something that you want to avoid because it can be a real headache but if you’re left with no other options and it makes commercial sense to do so (given the value of your vehicle) it’s an option open to you.
This is obviously the risk that you take by not having adequate insurance on your vehicle.
What if the other driver has insurance but doesn’t want to lodge a claim under their insurance?
If this is the case, and it will say this is unlikely but it can happen, then you will need to pursue the at fault driver personally in the manner referred to above.
Unfortunately you can’t compel the other driver to make a claim with her insurance company.
What can I claim from the at fault driver or their insurance company?
You should try and claim what you think is reasonable. So this means the cost of repairing the vehicle, the cost of any hire vehicles or accommodation and the cost of any damage to property that might have been damaged in the accident.
If you lost wages or income then you should also attempt to claim that.
You should attempt to claim as much as you can early on. You can always withdraw parts of your claim down the track when push comes to shove and you need to negotiate with the insurance company or the at fault driver. Including everything from the beginning puts you in a better position to negotiate.
How do I know if my car will be a write off?
If the insurance company estimates the cost of repairing the car will be greater than its value, then your car will usually be considered a write off.
The insurance company will need to value your vehicle. They may base the value on the market value of the car at the time of the accident or the insured value of the car (when previously insured).
Will the TAC pay anything towards the repair of my car?
Unfortunately, the TAC will not pay anything towards the repair of your car or any property damage that you might have incurred.
The TAC is an insurance scheme that has been set up to compensate people that have suffered injuries in motor vehicle accidents.
If however you do need modifications to a car following an accident because of an injury, they may pay for that. If your car can’t be modified, they’re responsible for contributing towards the cost of a new vehicle.
What will the TAC pay for?
If you have suffered an injury or injuries in the accident, the TAC can cover you (somewhat) for any lost wages.
They can also pay for the reasonable cost of medical and like expenses which includes any travel expenses to and from treatment.
There’s also two potential lump sum’s they will pay. The first is an impairment benefit lump sum claim where you are getting compensated for any permanent impairment you may have.
The second lump sum claim is a common law claim for damages where you are taking an action against the negligent driver.
Any compensation that is paid by the TAC and not the at fault driver.