Car Insurance - Gotcha's, things to look out for

I would just like to bring this to your attention as it may save you in the long run when taking out car insurance.

When I shop around for car insurance I make use of all the provider's online quote to try and get the lowest priced premium.
I want to warn those who are thinking of making their excess higher to keep their premium costs low thinking that,
"I'm a careful driver, the chances of me being at fault is low so in the chance of me getting in an accident is more likely to be the other party at fault so I won't have to pay excess" to avoid thinking like this.

There are situations where even if you're not at fault of the accident you will still have to pay excess as this is what has happened to me.

I was rear ended and even have dashcam footage. I've got the other parties details such as license and phone number however those details are the owner of the car and not the driver. So my insurance hasn't been able to get a hold of the driver so I have to pay excess to release my car from the panel beaters.

Insurance will refund me back the excess I paid once they're able to recover the cost from the other party, also I paid by credit card which incurred a $15 fee which insurance will not refund, only the excess amount.

I'm with AMI and this is what's in their contract which justifies their stance in not refunding me my excess.
AMI policy from

Innocent party protection
a. Your vehicle is covered for accidental damage arising from a collision with another vehicle.
b. We will only pay for damage to your vehicle if:
i we can confirm that the driver of your vehicle was completely free of blame, and
ii you can supply to us the registration number of the other vehicle, the name and address of the driver, and
iii the driver of the other vehicle is uninsured and acknowledges involvement in the accident to us.
Example case where this can take a long time, the driver of the Driver of the other vehicle hasn’t acknowledged involvement in the accident. Even though the type of accident is obvious that it’s not your fault ie. being rear ended and having dash cam footage, insurance will still not pay you out until they go through their recovery process which can take months.

My claim was lodged on 11 April 2021 and its expected to possibly take long as the other party cannot be contacted.
I called AMI to follow up on my case and they said something along the lines of, "In a worse case scenario where this claim has been closed due to not being able to get contact of the other party, you won't get your excess refunded"
I'll update this post when I get refunded to get a rough idea of how long these processes can take if not cancelled.

So the next time I'm taking out car insurance I'd carefully read through their contract for any wording that gets insurance to avoid paying you for example like this one from AA, "the person responsible confirms their involvement in the event" - I assume if the other party doesn't confirm their involvement then you don't get an excess refund.

A similar situation happened to my friend who is with ASB for their car insurance. They were faced with being asked to pay excess at the panel beaters but after they called their insurance they were able to have it waived as the type of accident showed they were not at fault.

This is my first time being faced with having to pay excess at the panel beaters where I am not at fault in an accident, so I just want to bring to attention that it's possible that you may need to pay excess where you're not at fault in a car accident.

Heres also a fair go story thats similar too


  • +2

    Pretty common and standard policy. Pay excess upfront and then get it refunded once they claim from the at fault party.

    Another thing to lookout for is vehicle policies that pay out at market rate and not agreed value.
    You could be paying premiums on what you think is a $30k car, get in an accident and insurance says that it was only ever worth $15k and therefore only pay out $15k..

  • Just out of interest, what dashcam do you have? I should really get one and I've been tempted to get a cheap one from 1day, but not sure if it will last.


    • +1

      I have this one

      It's a bit pricey though but I'm lucky as I won it 2 n a half years ago which at the time was near $500.
      I believe its pretty good build quality as its been in direct sunlight and heat really long and it still hasn't had any problems as I hear some can have overheating issues.
      The night vision is pretty good.
      I like how it is dual camera in one unit. It comes with a 32GB MicroSD card too.

      FYI Dashcams use a special SD card that usually have the words "endurance" on it, to cope with the re-writing. If you use a regular card the video gets all glitchy.

  • +1

    Insurance wtf cases

  • I used to be with ASB insurance now i'm with AA, customer service wise AA is so much better.

    • AA appears to have a similar clause, just keep in mind.
      I believe if this isn't met they will not refund your excess if they're not able to contact the other party.
      • the person responsible confirms their involvement in the event

      Copied and pasted from their policy

      -You will have to pay an excess
      You must pay an excess for each individual event. We may deduct your excess from the total settlement amount. The circumstances of your claim determine the value of the excess you need to pay. You might have to pay more than one type of excess for each claim. Your policy schedule tells you the amount and types of excess. If you claim under more than one policy with us for loss caused by a single event at the same location, you will only have to pay one excess. This will be the highest total applicable excess. What we need to reimburse your excess

      We will reimburse your excess for an event if you have paid your excess and all the following criteria are met:
      • you give us the correct name and contact details of the other driver
      • you give us the correct registration number of the other vehicle
      • the person responsible confirms their involvement in the event
      • we agree the driver of your vehicle was not at fault and did not contribute to the event.

  • Work in insurance here - RKL is correct, you always have to pay an excess until the insurance company can with certainty, recover costs from the other party. If they can't track the other party down, unfortunately, you will have to pay the excess.

  • just an update if you're interested.

    claim logged 11 April 2021
    been following from every couple of weeks to months

    response from Sep 13th 2021
    This claim is still ongoing, progress is sitting on External Collection Agency trying to recover the cost from the DRIVER and not the owner of the car.

    "Once amount is recovered or liability is accepted by other party, We will refund your Excess amount of $500.00
    Till than Excess amount will stand with us."

    Following up again today

  • Sorry newbie in car insurance here..When you said they can't get hold of the owner, does that mean the car driver won't be able to help as well? Can't the insurance company contact NZTA to get hold of their contact details? Or can the car owner choose not to respond to any emails or phone calls from the insurance company to avoid the cost? Just wondering what should we do when we get into a similar situation, do we ask for the car owner details as well, including email address and postal address instead of just a phone number? Thanks in advance

    • +1

      I don't see any reason that the car owner has any obligation to get involved in a dispute between two private parties? Maybe if the police approach them, that's different, but if a private dispute then its entirely up to them whether to get involved or not. Bear in mind the owner might also be pursuing the driver for damages too though.

      If you are in the same situation as described, best to have the same insurance cover that the OP has. That way, if it costs you $2,000 to get fixed, and your excess is $800 then you are only $1,200 out of pocket thanks to having your insurance policy (subject to whatever you agreed with the insurance company when you both signed the contract).

      Assuming the other driver stopped, then pretty much all you can do at the scene is get details of everyone you can, take lots of photos, preferably including of the other people, and hope.

      Failing to stop and see if anyone has been injured is actually quite a serious criminal offence I believe (even if nobody was actually hurt). Dash-cams for getting registration numbers etc might help the police in that situation, but that is with the police to decide what to do if anything.

      If you are asked by someone involved in an accident with you (whichever party may have been at fault) you must give them your name and address, the name and address of the owner of the vehicle (if you’re not the owner), and your vehicle’s registration number (probably not an issue unless the plates were off). I believe you can refuse if you have a 'good reason' but I'm not sure what that might be - probably rare.

      You should never admit to being at fault, and if the other party is at fault, and they are insured, it is not in your best interest for them to admit to fault either, since that might be a condition of your insurance, and you don't want to invalidate your insurance nor them to invalidate theirs!

      If you want to ramp it up, and you were injured (your neck a bit sore?) you can always call the police there and then. If they refuse to wait for the police you can't realistically stop them leaving, but if you’ve been in an accident and someone was hurt you’re legally obliged to report it to the police within, I think 24 hours (or maybe 'as soon as possible' which these days could really mean calling them immediately I guess).

      Be aware that, if you call the police from an accident scene, and nobody is injured in any significant way, you might be waiting some time for them to arrive (couple of hours would not surprise me). That happened to me once. I was rear-ended although there was essentially no real damage to my car (big tow-bar - I have always had a tow-bar on every car since!) and the lady driving the other vehicle seemed odd about it in some way, so I said, no problem, let's call the police. She said she couldn't wait, and I said, that's up to her, I'll wait here for them. She waited around for a few minutes then came out and offered me $560 in cash for 'any damage', which I accepted, and we parted ways. I reported it to my insurance company just in case, but no implications, and they said to still report it to the police including the $560 which I did. No idea if the police did anything with it - I would have to doubt it.


      • Thanks Alan, very good information!

  • +1

    I finally got my excess refunded today

    When I made an insurance claim I handed them the car owners details as that was the person I spoke to. When my insurance spoke with the car owner, that owner said they weren't the driver and gave my insurance the Drivers details to which insurance was contacting but not getting any answer.
    I called the Police at the time of accident but because no one was seriously injured they said they wouldn't come out and recommended letting insurance handle it.
    If you're in a situation where you think that the other party may be dodgy I would mention that to the Police to try and get them to come out and confirm ie. if you suspect they're drunk or on drugs if the accident is unusual

    Anyway this has been such a headache constantly having to follow up with insurance and I'm just glad I got my excess refunded but I'm just super disappointed at this whole process. I wish and hope none of you have to go through this.

    My advice when you get into an accident is to start a video recording on your phone before you get out of your car at the time of the accident.
    Record the scene, and if you can take photos while recording a video, take heaps of phones. Record your conversation with the other party if you can.
    This will prove the situation and also the conversation you have with the other party in case there is anything they make up.

    • I like the idea of recording video (as well as, not instead of, taking photos).

      I'm pretty sure the phones I've had for the last five years, maybe more, have been able to do that, so any modern phone should be more than capable.


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