At fault versus not at fault

When it comes to making a car insurance claim, determining who caused the accident is super important. This is because the person who is found to be at fault will usually be responsible for covering the cost of the damage.

Determining who is at fault

It’s not always obvious who is at fault in an accident. Lots of factors can come into play, so insurers will rely on evidence and the road rules to determine who is liable. Evidence can include:

  • accounts from involved drivers and eyewitnesses
  • photographs of the damage and the location
  • dashcam footage of the event
  • physical proof of damage to the vehicle
  • police reports.
  • Completely at fault

    Sometimes, you’ll know right off the bat that you or the other driver was responsible. A common example is accidentally hitting the back of another vehicle because you weren’t maintaining a safe distance. Accidents happen and when these situations occur, it’s important to simply remain calm, exchange details and contact your insurer.

  • Partly at fault

    There will also be occasions where both drivers share a level of responsibility for an accident. For example, when two cars reverse from opposite car parks at the same time and hit one another. In these cases, a percentage of fault will be determined by the insurer by analysing all the evidence available.

  • What happens if there’s a dispute over who is at fault?

    Usually, the insurance company will resolve the dispute on your behalf with the other driver’s insurer, or with the other driver directly. More often than not, the claim is settled between the two parties without needing to go to court.

What to do if you’re in an accident with an uninsured driver

If the accident was not your fault

The process of recovering repair costs from an uninsured driver may be a little more complicated because they will need to pay for the repairs out of their own pocket. Generally, you’ll have two options:

  1. Contact your insurance company to report the damage and have them handle all the paperwork, quotes and chasing on your behalf.
  2. Settle the issue privately with the other driver. Provide a few quotes from different mechanics for them to consider and agree to. If you go with this option, you should still report the accident to your insurer as soon as possible to ensure you’re fulfilling your ‘duty of disclosure.’

If the accident was your fault

If you’re not insured and you caused the accident, the other driver will usually contact their insurer to follow up with you to recover the cost of the damages.

How to make a claim

Whether you’re at fault, not at fault or partly at fault, the process of making a claim is the same. You’ll need to contact your insurance company, let them know what happened and provide the following details:

  • information about the other driver, including name, address and if possible, their contact number and name of their insurer
  • details about the cars involved, including make, model and number plates
  • supporting photographs of the damage
  • contact details of any witnesses.

For more information on how to make a claim, see RACV Car Insurance claims.

Am I entitled to a hire car after a making a not-at-fault car insurance claim?

If you weren’t found to be at fault, you might be able to be provided with a free hire car. RACV Complete Care® and Comprehensive Motor Insurance policies provide hire car benefits to keep you on the road while a repairer (authorised by RACV Insurance) works on your vehicle.

Not-at-fault accident: Choose the situation that describes you best

Provided your car is insured with RACV Complete Care® or RACV Comprehensive Motor Insurance policy, you weren't found to be the at-fault driver in an accident with another vehicle, and you can provide the name and address of the driver who was at fault, then: 

  • a hire car can be arranged if you need one. You must not arrange your own hire car without getting prior written consent by contacting 13 19 03. If you do, the cost may not be covered.
  • your cover includes RACV Insurance managing all the repairs for you through the RACV Partner Repairer network 
  • you might not need to pay an excess.

What if I don’t have the contact details of the at-fault driver?

In this scenario, if you don’t have RACV Complete Care® Motor Insurance or the hire car option as part of your RACV Comprehensive Motor Insurance policy, you won’t be eligible for a free hire car.

If you already have RACV Complete Care® or the hire car option on your RACV Comprehensive Motor policy, a hire car will be organised for you in line with your policy coverage below:

RACV Complete Care® Motor Insurance limits/conditions:

  • Up to $100/day, unlimited days (until your vehicle is repaired or until your claim is settled if your vehicle is a total loss – whichever is the shortest period of time).

RACV Comprehensive Motor Insurance with the Hire Car Option limits/conditions:

  • Up to $60/day up to maximum of 14 days or until your vehicle is repaired or until your claim is paid if your vehicle is a total loss, whichever is the shortest period of time.

Remember, you must not arrange your own hire car unless you get prior written consent from RACV Insurance. If you do, the cost may not be covered.

I have the hire car option on my policy. How is this different?

The hire car option on your RACV Complete Care® or Comprehensive policy provides you with a hire car regardless of who was at fault in any incident covered by your policy. This includes insured events, such as hail damage, collision with an animal, or where there's no other party involved.

Not at fault hire car cover is automatically included in RACV Complete Care® and Comprehensive Motor Insurance policies. This inclusion only provides a hire car when you're not at fault and you can provide the at-fault driver's name and residential address.

How long can I keep the replacement hire car?

Under the not at fault hire car cover, a hire car will be arranged for you for the duration of your car’s repairs or until your claim is settled, whichever is the shortest period of time.

RACV Complete Care® Motor Insurance limits/conditions:

  • Up to $100/day, unlimited days (until your vehicle is repaired or until your claim is settled if your vehicle is a total loss – whichever is the shortest period of time).

RACV Comprehensive Motor Insurance with the Hire Car Option limits/conditions:

  • Up to $60/day up to maximum of 14 days or until your vehicle is repaired or until your claim is paid if your vehicle is a total loss, whichever is the shortest period of time.

Remember, you must not arrange your own hire car unless you get prior written consent from RACV Insurance. If you do, the cost may not be covered.

Provided you were in an accident with a vehicle that's insured by RACV Insurance and you weren't at fault, then:

  • you may be provided with a hire car for the duration of your car's repairs
  • smash repairs may be arranged for you through the RACV Partner Repairer network,

Call RACV on 1300 763 324 to discuss.

What are the benefits of using an RACV Partner Repairer?

RACV Partner Repairers have the skills and technology to deliver the highest quality workmanship and repairs. All authorised work is guaranteed for as long as you’re the owner of your vehicle. 

  • Choose the RACV Partner Repairer closest to you; there are over 90 locations across Victoria.
  • On average, driveable cars will be repaired in less than a week after going in for repairs
  • RACV Insurance will also cover your taxi ride to and from an RACV Partner Repairer (up to $80 each way) to take the hassle out of picking up and dropping off your vehicle.

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.