Make a claim after an accident

We break down what to do after a collision on the road, with simple steps on what details to take down at the accident scene, things to consider before making a claim, the car insurance claim process, and what can happen next.

What to do after a car accident

  1. 1

    Stop and secure the area.

    Turn off the engine and turn on your hazard lights. In the event of an injury or traffic hazard, call 000 for emergency services.

  2. 2

    Exchange information.

    Take down the details of the drivers involved and take photos of the accident scene and damage.

  3. 3

    Lodge a claim.

    It is recommended that you lodge a claim as soon as possible. If your car can’t be driven from the accident scene, call 13 19 03 and a tow can be arranged.

Safety and precautions

Following an accident, we don’t advise you to drive your car if:

  • the brakes or lights aren't functioning
  • getting in or out of the car is difficult
  • damaged bodywork could interfere with driving or cause injury
  • you see signs of engine damage or leaking fluids.

You should call the police if:

  • you don’t feel safe
  • the accident is creating a traffic hazard
  • you suspect drugs or alcohol were involved in the accident.

What’s the best way to document damage?

  • If it’s safe to do so, the best way to document damage is to take photos of the vehicles involved in the accident.

    You should also exchange details with the other driver and collect the names and phone numbers of any witnesses. You can take them down as notes in your phone or write them down.

    Collecting this information can help you provide an accurate description of how the accident occurred and details of the damage later if you decide to make a claim.

  • Detail exchange checklist:

    • Full name
    • Residential address
    • Contact number
    • Driver’s licence number
    • Registration number and car model
    • Insurance details
    • Witness names and numbers

Deciding whether to make a claim

  • It all depends on the type of accident you were involved in and how it happened.

    If you’re unsure, you can always call RACV Insurance to chat through your options.

  • What to consider before you claim:

    • Your type of cover
    • How high your excess is
    • Who is at fault
    • The extent of the damage

Understanding your cover

You can find out exactly what you’re covered for by checking your Certificate of Insurance and Product Disclosure Statement. Starting a claim online can also help you determine whether you’re covered for the accident and what options are available to you to have your car repaired or get a hire car. You don’t need to go ahead with the claim if you don’t want to.

What is an excess?

An excess is an amount you contribute toward the cost of a claim. There are three types of excess: basic, age and special.

You'll need to pay an excess if:

  • you or the person driving your vehicle was at fault in an accident
  • the accident wasn't your fault but you don't have the details of the at-fault driver
  • your car was damaged by an event e.g. hail during a storm.

When you start a claim online, you can find out whether or not an excess is payable.

There's a dispute over who caused the accident. What should I do?

When there’s uncertainty or a dispute around who caused an accident, RACV Insurance will review all the information that has been provided about the accident – such as photographs, statements and police reports – together with the road rules to determine who was at fault.

  • If you’re found to be at fault, you will need to pay the excess.
  • If you’re found not to be at fault and can provide the name and residential address of the driver that was at fault, then you may not need to pay the excess.

How to make a claim

You can lodge a claim online in around 10 minutes or you can do it over the phone by calling 13 19 03. You’ll need to provide the following as part of the claim process:

  • information about the other driver, including their name, residential address, and insurer (if they have car insurance)
  • details about the cars involved, including make, model and number plates
  • supporting photographs of the damage
  • contact details of anyone who witnessed the accident.

What if I don’t have the details of the other driver?

If you don't have all their details right now, you can add them at a later date if you're able to obtain them.

If you don’t have any of their details and have no way of getting them (for example, after a hit and run incident), you'll be required to pay the excess towards the cost of your repairs.

Do I get a hire car when I make a claim?

If you’ve been involved in an accident that wasn’t your fault, you might be able to be provided with a free hire car depending on your policy.

With both RACV Complete Care® and RACV Comprehensive Car Insurance, you may be eligible for a hire car until your vehicle is repaired or until your claim is settled (whichever comes first), after a not-at-fault collision where you can provide the name and residential address of the driver RACV Insurance agree is at fault.

What happens after I make a claim?

  1. If your car was damaged, an RACV Partner Repairer will inspect your vehicle to determine repair costs.
  2. The quote will be assessed by RACV Insurance. If the quote is accepted and the claim proceeds, you can book in directly with the Partner Repairer to fix the damage at a time that suits you. If you decide the cost of the damage is less than the excess and it’s not worth going ahead with the claim, you can cancel the claim.
  3. If you choose to go ahead and have the car repaired, you’ll be asked to pay your excess directly to the repairer when you collect your car, or if the damage was caused by the other person and you provided their details so that the costs can be recovered, you won’t need to pay an excess.

Vehicle repairs

With RACV Motor Insurance, your policy automatically includes access to an extensive Partner Repairer network. Repairs carried out by an RACV Partner Repairer come with a lifetime guarantee on workmanship for as long as you are the owner of the car.

Who does the repairs?

RACV has a partnership with trusted businesses across Victoria to deliver quality repairs to get you moving again. However, you may choose your own repairer to fix your vehicle if you chose the ‘Any Repairer’ option available on some policies (such as RACV Comprehensive Car Insurance), or if your vehicle is a motorcycle.

What if my car is a total loss?

A car is considered a total loss when the damage is so significant that the cost to repair the vehicle is more than its value. The outcome of how this is settled will depend on your policy. Generally speaking, the following may apply:

  • you’ll be paid the agreed or market value of your vehicle, minus any unpaid premium, applicable excess, or unused registration fee
  • your policy will come to an end; there is no refund on the premium
  • it won’t be returned to you and it will be recorded on the Written-Off Vehicle register.

Some RACV Insurance policies also allow you to choose to have your vehicle replaced, provided certain conditions are met, like the vehicle is in the first 24 months of its registration (or 36 months for Complete Care policies) at the time of the incident and the same vehicle (make, model, engine, paint type) is available in Australia.

It is best to refer to your Certificate of Insurance and Product Disclosure Statement for the full terms and conditions to determine what this means for you.

What if I'm not happy with the repairs?

It’s recommended that you first speak with the repairer about your concerns. If you're still unhappy, please contact RACV Insurance to discuss next steps.

For RACV Insurance authorised repairs, a lifetime guarantee on workmanship applies for as long as you are the owner of the car.

View RACV Motor Insurance policy documents.

RACV Motor Insurance is issued by Insurance Manufacturers of Australia Pty Limited ABN 93 004 208 084 AFS Licence No. 227678. Please consider the Product Disclosure Statement before buying. For a copy call 13 RACV (13 7228) or visit racv.com.au.