Motor Claims

Insurance companies defination of a 'fault claim'

Everyone has their own opinion about who was at fault when something happens. Who was responsible for leaving the milk out of the fridge? Who’s job was it to book the hotel room? Who was supposed to call Jimmy and tell him to come at 9 o’clock? But when an insurance company is dealing a claim on a motor policy their defination of ‘fault’ is not always the same as people would normally understand it to be.

To an insurance company the defination of a fault claim is:

a) That you did something that caused the accident to happen. You are responsible for your actions and their consequences.

b) Your insurance company is unable to get the cost of the claim reimbursed by the person who was responsible for damaging your car. Which means that you are at fault even though you didn 't do anything wrong.

Here are some examples of why this might happen.

-If your parked car is hit by an unknown vehicle then this is classed as a fault claim. It is your ‘fault’ because the driver who is responsible cannot be traced.

-Likewise, vandalism is treated as a fault claim. Even if the police catch and prosecute those responsible your insurer will not persue them for the cost of repairing your car as the chances of making a full recovery from them will be nil.

-In an instance where your vehicle is damaged by a roof tile falling onto your car. Or it is hit by a gate caught by the wind. This will also be treated as a fault claim because your insurer will have to prove a case of negligence against the property owners concerned and here again the chances of doing that are practically nil.

-Your vehicle is damaged while going over a pot hole . Your insurer will not be able to make a recovery from the council unless it can prove that the council was aware of the pot hole but failed to take the necessary remedial action it in good time.

- You slid on a muddy surface or where there was oil on the road. Same scenario as with the pothole.

- An object falls from a passing vehicle onto your car.

- You hit an animal . It's going to be a fault claim if you hit a wild animal of-course but also if you hit a farm animal that has strayed out of a field. Your insurer wont be able to hold the farmer liable unless they can prove negligence. Likewise if you swerve to avoid a dog on the road and hit a parked car theoretically you will be able to claim against the dog owner but only if your insurer can prove that the owner acted with wilful irresponsibility.

-You are hit by a vehicle that is not insured . In theory your insurer can attempt to recover their costs for the repair to your car from the driver but the chances of doing that with any likelihood of success are negligible.

A brief summery

Many policyholders feel that they are being punished by their insurance company or even that their insurance company isn’t trying hard enough to hold those responsible to account for their actions. But if an insurance company cannot prove who was responsible for damaging your vehicle they wont waste their time pursuing them.

Your policy simply means that damage to your car (and indeed damage and injury you may case to others) is covered. You are entitled to drive your car on the public highway but you do so at your own risk. All you can do is insure against this risk but that risk will include instances where you will be held at fault for something happening that wasn’t your fault.

Comments 18 comments

SA 4 years ago

what if the other driver who caused the accident gives an incorrect account of the accident making it your fault and produces a witness to back up his claim!

Reinhard Beck 4 years ago

Hello SA...

what usually what happens is that the respective insurance companies split the difference and settle the claim as a "disputed liability" claim which means in effect that both drivers share the blame - much to the innocent parties fury who at that point will insist that their insurer fights for them (and for justice!) but the thing is: if the people who were there cannot agree on what happened how can you expect the insurance company to know what happened? And unless it is obvious that the other drivers account of the accident are simply not credible your insurer i'm afraid will not fight and will settle on the best terms which will mean you will looses 2 ncb and you'll have to pay some (not all) of your excess on your policy towards the cost of the repairs.

And the witness has to be credible. They have to be "independent" that means not known to you. It has been known for a witness to be produced out of nowhere days, or even weeks, later who claims to have seen it all. Taxi drivers are notorious for pulling this trick. If you have an accident wth a taxi driver on a lonely counrty road in the middle of the night don't be surprised if a few days later half a doz of his fellow taxi drivers come out of the woodwork all claiming to have seen it all and all claiming it was all your fault.

That is why your insurer (in your policy booklet) will always tell you to report all incidents however trivial...even if you have no intention of making a claim yourself. Forwarned is forarmed, as they say. So contact your insurer immediately and while all the facts are still fresh and tell them exactly what happened. If you don't what will you be able to tell your insurer if you get a letter or a phone call one day from them about an accident that happened six months ago? Even worse some people try to blame you for an accident that you weren't even involved in.

SA 4 years ago

thanks for the reply, my claim is still ongoing. Yes it is infuriating, as his version of events do not correlate to the damage to our vehicles however both insurance claim handlers seem to be blind to this?! most infuriating as the innocent party..

reinhard beck 4 years ago

What are the accident circs then? the reason why I ask is that usually the area of damage doesn't often prove who is at fault - it merely proves there was an accident of some kind (eg: 2 cars have an accident on a duelcarraige way or on a r-a-b and have came to their sides - each driver says the other moved over into his lane. How do you prove it? well, you can't. But it might be different with you.

SA 4 years ago

the accident happened at a T-junction, where the other driver pulled out of a minor road and went into the side of my vehicle. His statement stated we were driving along the same major road?

The damage to my car doesn't correlate to his version of the events its quite clear he's given an incorrect statement.

reinhard beck 4 years ago

Hello SA,

Then I hope your insurance company backs you. It will be interesting to hear his version of events. The only way he could try and make his voe stick is if the damage to both cars are scrapes and scratches along the sides of both cars. The only other arguement he could put forward is that you were both side by side when you turned into his path (hence the damage to the side of your and to the front of his).

SA 4 years ago

I hope so...who knows maybe by some miracle he'll accept liability before it goes to court.

reinhard beck 4 years ago

Hello again SA.

I don't understand why this needs to go to court. The judge wont be able to reach a decision. The only evedience he has will be your version of events and theirs. No facts. It's the insurance compaies that need to come to a decision. Granted your insurer might feel that because there are no facts they can rely on to back up your voe they will have to accept a split liability but it sounds to me as if they did it too readily. Does the other driver live or work in the side street he was exiting by any chance? Where had he started his journey and when? Where was he travelling to? Do you get my drift? If he's lying your claims handler should try and catch him out on the details (or at least try).

SA 4 years ago

I ask myself that question over and over again...! I simply don't know why it's not been settled by the 2 insurance companies (by the handlers)

3rd party took his time answering our corres and changed his story 3 times?! I'm not an expert in these things however even i can tell you that in itself rings alarm bells

it was his insurance company who have decided to take mine to court to reclaim their costs (and whatever else?!)

reinhard beck 4 years ago

Hello again SA.

I still don't see why it needs to go to court. I assume you have insurance. Even TPO cover would protect you from the cost of claim that you were liable for.

And if the 3rd party has changed his story three times that DEFINATELY makes my alarm bells ring and your claims handler should be working to pick his version of events to pieces by exploiting the contraditions constant lying inevitably throws up to show that he is lying. How does he say the accident actually happened? Is he saying you were side by side on the road when you turned into him? Is he saying he/you was overtaking? In this case I do think the area of damage can help you. You have a dent in the side of your car you don't get damage like that in the way the 3rd party is making out (if his voe is right his car should have a dent in the side of his car).

If it does go to court then at least you should have to a chance to put all of these questions to the 3rd party and ask him if he's decided on a voe or if he's thought of another one? I'm no lawyer but that fact that you have your version of events and have stuck to it should help. If he keeps changing his mind it shows that (at best) he doesn't know what happened and at worst it shows he is lying but he cant decide which lie is the most plausible one because he don't know what in these circumsatnces would be such a plausible lie that it could pass for the truth. I wish you luck.

4 years ago

Thanks for all your advice.

4 years ago

If i ask my solicitor for the details of the evidence against me - can they give this information to me?

Reason being I want to know what evidence his insurance company is using to uphold their case and take this to court and to be prepared.

reinhardBeck profile image

reinhardBeck 4 years ago from LEEDS Author

Hello S,

Yes. There is no reason in the world why the other drivers insurance company wont give you or your solicitor the information you need. You are entitled to know what you are being accused of afterall. I can't beleive this is going to court though. What does your insurer have to say about all this?

lisa 4 years ago

i park at a mall for about 6 hours shopping for xmas.when i came out and reach home i realize that someone hit the car.i call my insurance and they were giving me the run around saying i can fix my car so that was what i were looking to do.but i did not report it in 24 hour .so now that my insurance company is brought out by someone else me insurance is high.and it was not my fault at all.what can i do to fix this problem can someone help me please

reinhard beck 4 years ago

Hello Lisa,

Assuming that you have fully comp cover you will be covered for the damage to your car. unfortunately for you though, since you don't know who did it the claim will be registered against you on your policy as a fault claim. "Fault" here meaning that your insurance companyhas to pay for any repairs that might be necessary and wont get their money back from whoever is actually at fault. By the sounds of it your insurer is trying to tell you that not claiming for the damage would be cheaper in the long run. It's worth considering because if you do ask your insurer to pay for the repairs you will have to contribute your excess on your policy towards the cost and that just might not be worth it.

SA 2 years ago

A resolution at last. We were due in court this month and surprisingly the claimant has pulled out this time. I get my no claims back and no longer liable for this accident. Such a relief.

reinhard beck 2 years ago

Hi SA,

Glad to hear the good news. Though I have to say I'm staggered it took this long to reach a conclusion.

SA 2 years ago

I know so am I. However in the end it was in my favour :-) I was much luckier the solicitor assigned to my case was better at her job than the claim handler from the insurance company.

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