Motor Accidents and Claims
Most people hope that when they take out a motor insurance policy they will
never have to make a claim. Unfortunately, accidents happen and property is
stolen so it's important to know what to do. When people buy insurance they
want the peace of mind that their insurance company will look after things.
Insurance can be a complex business. Always read your policy
and if there is anything you are not sure about, ask your broker
or insurer to explain it to you.
Ground Rules Of Insurance
There are certain principles, which all insurance contracts
are based on. It makes sense to understand these rules
now and hopefully avoid problems later on.
Can The Insurance Company Settle A Claim Against My Policy
Without My Agreement?
Yes...when you take out an insurance policy, you agree that the insurance company
can deal with a claim on your behalf and if appropriate settle the claim. You
certainly will be given the opportunity to give your full explanation as to
the circumstances of the incident, however. You should keep in touch with the
insurance company for up to date details of the progress of claim.
How Do I Know What I'm Covered For?
Your policy will list what you're covered for so it's important that you read
it carefully. Many people find out when it's too late that they are not covered
for a particular loss. Read the policy and ask questions if you are not sure.
How Much Will The Policy Pay?
The policy will indemnify you against further loss. What is meant by indemnity
is that in the event of a claim, where the risk is covered, the insurers
will compensate you so that you are in the same financial position as you
were before the loss. The exception to this rule is where there is an excess
on the policy.
The amount of a claim a policyholder agrees to pay if
he or she suffers a loss. An excess is often standard with some
policies such as car insurance or travel. So if you have an excess
of €100 and agreed cost of repairing your car is €1,200
the insurance company pay €1,100 and you pay €100.
Voluntary excess cuts the cost of most insurance premiums.
If you have an accident, take a note of the registration number of the other
vehicles involved and the names of their owners and drivers. Also, ask for
the name and address of everybody else who is involved, including witnesses.
You are under no obligation to admit liability and certainly do not sign
any statement, as this would break your policy conditions Take a note of
the other person's insurance details (You can usually get this information
form the windscreen disc on their car).
It's a good idea is to carry a disposable camera in the glove
box of your car. Then, if you are involved in an accident you
can take photographs of the scene, showing the positions of
the vehicle, any damage done and so on. It's a lot easier than
trying to remember or explain circumstances later on. As an
alternative make a sketch plan of the accident scene showing
the positions of the vehicles, road markings, etc.
Complying With The Law
If you are involved in an accident in which a person or animal is injured or
a vehicle or property is damaged you must do the following:
your name, address, the registration number of your vehicle,
and your insurance details, to anybody who needs the information.
anybody other than you is injured, you must show your insurance certificate
to the local Gardai within 24 hours.
must also show your certificate to anybody who asks for it if you have
damaged his or her vehicle or property.
you are involved in an accident, you should tell your insurance company
as soon as possible and send your insurance company all the correspondence
relating to the accident. Do not reply to the correspondence yourself,
your insurance company will sort it out and handle the claim for
you are at fault, the other driver will claim
against you so your insurance company will need to know the circumstances
as soon as possible.
the other driver is responsible for the accident,
you will have to claim against their policy so it is important
to get the details of their insurance including, the company,
the policy number and the registration number of the vehicle.
(You can usually get this information from the windscreen disc).
You will have to deal with this type of claim yourself, however
you should nevertheless inform your insurance company of the
circumstances. If anybody was injured you should see your solicitor.
you have comprehensive cover and the other driver is responsible,
you can claim the cost of repairing your vehicle from your
insurance company and your insurers will claim from the
other driver's insurance company. Your no claims discount
will be reduced until your insurance company have recovered
what they paid out from the other driver's insurance company.
Getting Your Car Repaired
If your policy cover is comprehensive or fire and theft, phone your broker
or insurer and give details of the place and time where the engineer can
inspect your vehicle. There may be an approved repairer in your area. If
you are claiming from somebody else let their insurance company know where
they can inspect your car. Always check your policy conditions as there may
extra costs for you if you do not use approved repairer.
Tell the local Gardai as soon as you realise your vehicle has been stolen.
If the vehicle is not found within 28 days your insurance company will work
out your claim in accordance with the terms of your policy. You must send
the certificate of ownership, the keys and so on to your insurance company
If the vehicle is damaged your insurance company will work out the cost of
repairing it with the repairers and pay this amount less any excess.
If your car is written off or stolen you should suspend your
policy if you are not immediately putting another car on cover.
There may be a credit premium in some cases for suspension
of cover over a certain period. Check with your broker / insurers.
Stolen Vehicles Not Recovered
The amount you will receive in settlement will be what the car was worth before
it was stolen. You should make sure the amount your vehicle is insured for
is as near to the market value as possible. If you are not sure, you should
ask a main dealer garage. Although many insurance companies use year of car,
and not car value to calculate the premium, you should review this every
year. Insurers vary in this regard, always ask.
Please tell us straight away if you or your driver receives notice of any prosecution.
These are examples of material fact which must be disclosed to your insurers.
(See jargon buster ) It would also help to know if anybody else who was involved
in the accident is going to be prosecuted.
How Will A Claim Affect My No Claims Discount?
How your no claims discount is affected differs depending on the type of policy
and type of claim. Depending on this your no claims discount may be untouched
in the case of fire, theft or windscreen claims, stepped back (reduced) or
removed completely. It is normal practice for your no claims discount to
be removed while we are investigating a claim even if we have not paid anything
out. Your Insurer or broker will be happy to advise you in the event that
you are unfortunate enough to have a claim.
If when you renew your policy you find that you have lost your bonus, you may
be able to have your no claims bonus restored by paying back all the payments
associated with the claim when the claim is fully settled. This sometimes
occurs when the policyholder finds that the claim was settled for a small
sum. The option to reimburse is only available at the renewal following the
claim settlement and is at the discretion of the company. Your Insurer or
broker will advise you.
Safety And Prevention
Here are some dangerous situations
for children in or around cars:
keep children secure in a recommended child car seat or harness.
allow children to sit on a passenger's lap (either in the front or
let children sit in a front seat of a car if they are under 12.
not leave children on their own in a car.
cigarette lighter or matches left in a car are dangerous and
can cause fire.
sure children's heads are kept clear of open windows, particularly
use the child safety locks.
not put too many children in the car.
allow children to walk around or between parked cars.
leave children unattended while getting in or out
of a car.
an unsecured child is seven times more likely to
be severely injured or killed than a child who
is properly strapped in.
Driving Long Distances
The National Safety Council makes the following recommendations for long journeys:
time to plan your trip.
off in the morning after a good night's sleep.
to drive at times when you are normally awake, avoid late-night an
early morning drives.
regular breaks (at least every two hours).
properly to maintain blood sugar levels, not too much, not too
driving where possible.
you are tired or sleepy, there is only one solution. You must
find a suitable spot for a rest.
limits are there for a reason, keep to them.
in the car should always wear their seat belts.
drink and drive.
use the car phone when you are driving.
First Aid Kit
You should always carry a first aid kit in your car.
Never leave valuables in your car where they can be seen. For example, do not
leave jackets, handbags etc. on the passenger seat while you are driving.
If you do have to leave property in your car, always put it in the boot of
the car. Try not to do this where you may be seen. Remember out of sight
is out of mind.