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NRMA Motor Vehicle Insurance

I am having a nightmare experience with NRMA Motor Vehicle Insurance after 23 years with them. I recently had a car accident in which the other driver was at fault but I am being charged an excess. Initially I was advised that I would not be able to book in with an authorised repairer until the end of June. The accident occurred on 1 April. I was able to get in to a newly authorised repairer sooner but I have no visibility on the progress of my case. There is no means on their website of writing to a case manager. The matter of the excess remains unresolved. All cases are managed in a Philippines call centre and it is impossible to speak to a manager in Australia. All communications are by text message from a “No reply” number. The website is slow and clunky. I still have no date for when I can get my car back. Because of delays in getting parts I have been told it may be a year or more! The attitude of the call centre is that their client is in the wrong. I cant recall every having had a more stressful experience with a service provider. Has anyone else found a way of getting themselves heard by NRMA?

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Hi @Vanfan, welcome to the community.

A couple of questions:

  • Did the other driver have car insurance?

  • While you have indicated you believe it was the other driver’s fault, has the other driver acknowledged this and is this confirmed by the NRMA?

  • Had NRMA indicated to you that if the other driver is insured and your repairs are covered by the other insurer, you will be refunded the excess?

If the other driver has insurance and it is confirmed by all that they are at fault, has the NRMA indicated that you may be able to receive car hire for some or all the (reasonable) time required for the repair to be completed? This assumes that your car isn’t roadworthy and/or safely drivable.

The answers to these questions may assist community members in providing advice moving forward…and what rights you and the NRMA have in relation to the damage caused, claims and other ancillary benefits (such as car hire).

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Post on their Facebook page may be a way of getting Australian feedback from them.

Depending on what has happened you may have to pay the excess and the Insurer may be able to recover it from the at fault driver when they recover their funds as well. The other option is to pay the excess and claim the cost through your State/Territory Civil & Administrative Tribunal if the accident was in your State or you may have to lodge your claim in the State the accident occurred in if it was out of your State.

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In addition to the previous questions a not at fault driver will usually be charged an excess if the insurer (NRMA in this case) is unable to recover the claim from them. They require the contact as well as accident details, and then determine who is at fault as they see it.

From the NRMA’s web:

Provided your car is insured with an NRMA Comprehensive Insurance policy, we agree you weren’t at fault in a collision with another vehicle, and you can give us the name and address of the at fault driver, then:

  • We’ll arrange a hire car for you if you need one
  • If you use our Partner Repairer, we can manage the repairs for you
  • There will be no impact to your No Claim Bonus discount
  • You won’t need to pay an excess on your claim.

Some insurers charge the excess up front and credit or refund it once they can recover the claim from the at fault driver.

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I have a comprehensive insurance policy, I supplied the name of a witness who hasn’t been contacted, I was not at fault…the road law is clear and I have asked for a hire car and been refused. I have sent several letters and emails and none have been acknowledged let alone replied to. I cannot get anyone to speak to me about this case. I have been without a car since 1 April, 5 weeks ago. I have yet to be advised of a completion date for the repair. I have received legal advice that NRMA’s position is indefensible. I have been a client of NRMA for 23 years and have two cars and my home and contents insured with NRMA. I have been treated with contempt. I have repeatedly asked to speak to a manager and have been refused. I am unable to speak to anyone in Australia. I have never experienced such appalling customer relationship management

A further comment. I supplied the name, address, phone number and licence number of the other driver. I also supplied the name, address, and phone number of the sole witness to the accident. She has not been contacted after 5 weeks. I have comprehensive insurance and I have been with NrMA for 25 years. How can NRMA have a view as to whether I am at fault or not if they haven’t spoken to me and they haven’t spoken to the witness. The road law is clear. I was going straight ahead at a 4 way intersection where there were no give way signs or stop signs. The other driver made a right hand turn across my path and took the front off my car. I called NRMA from the scene of the accident and asked them what to do. I followed their instructions, I also called the police. I intend to take legal action against NRMA

Perhaps it is time to change to Suncorp.

A insurer won’t base their decision of fault based on the driver of the insured vehicle, as most drivers will say it isn’t their fault. The other driver may now believe that it wasn’t their fault and communicated this to their insurer, if they were insured.

Who does your insurer believe?

Did the police come out and did they provide you with a report? If this report attributed fault, this will be to the benefit of your claim the accident wasn’t your fault.

Until fault is confirmed and assuming the other driver has insurance, the NRMA may be entitled to request an excess to get the claim processed.

Have you read the product disclosure statement about when excesses are paid and processes for settling a claim?

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Just for record, have you gone through the NRMA complaints process as well as contacting AFCA?

If not, it is important to try to work that formal system. If it remains unresponsive to engaging you write a ‘Letter of Complaint’ (many links elsewhere on the forum) to NRMA and cc AFCA and see if that gets the engagement you seek.

Since you have so far experienced the proverbial black hole it suggests something disjoint is occurring that needs a remedy, not suggesting you have not been trying your best. Until you go formal it is what I call ‘idle chit chat’ that resolves nothing. Only after going formal will it be good evidence in any legal situation.

Please keep us updated and good luck getting it resolved.

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Hi helpful advisors,
I think I just lost a comment that I posted in response to some of your queries so I will start again:
Was the other driver insured…yes
Did the other driver admit liability? I assume not, because three weeks after the accident I received a letter from an insurer asking me to call them. I did not do so. I forwarded the letter to the NRMA and asked them to acknowledge its receipt. They did not do so. (The Black Hole)
Did I use the complaints process on their website…yes
Did I get a reply…no
Did I write to them…yes. I wrote a letter and sent it to their Customer Relations department.
Did I get a reply…no.
On the comment that “most drivers don’t admit liability” . It seems that works very well for the insurer…if the other party doesn’t admit liability then you get charged an excess. So both drivers get charged an excess? Even if they are insured with the same company?
I have reached the point where the matter of the excess is less important to me than the stress and distress of dealing with NRMA which is driving me around the bend. It is so time consuming! I have been without a car for 5 weeks (the car was underivable) and I have been given no date as to when it will be ready because of the difficulty of getting parts. Up to 12 months has been mentioned! Surely if that is the reality, the car should be written off?
I just can’t believe the wall of silence that I am encountering.
In the interests of balance I can report that I had an entirely different experience with my home insurance a few months ago when a storm caused some broken roof tiles. The consultants that I spoke to couldn’t have been more empathetic, the assessor arrived within 24 hours, a temporary repair was done within 24 hours and there was no problem at all talking to a consultant. The service was friendly, very fast, and super efficient. Clearly it is a different franchise.
It is the utter impossibility of talking to someone who is prepared to discuss the procedure being followed and where it is up to ie the case management and process that is infuriating. I just want to know if the other driver has asserted that I was at fault, and if he has why I am not being given the courtesy of providing my account. I also want to know why the witness ( who was a complete stranger mowing her nature strip adjacent to the accident site) has not been contacted. Similarly the repairer has not been contacted. Yet in his view, the location and type of damage sustained by my vehicle is 100% consistent with what I say happened.
Did the police come? …No they didn’t. I asked them to come. However, because no one was injured and because the cars could be moved so they were not blocking the traffic, they declined to attend the accident scene.
How long is a reasonable time to have my repaired car returned to me? 6 weeks? 3 months? And why will no one discuss with me why I am not entitled to a hire car in the interim. If, as I expect I am eventually found to be not at fault I have been denied the use of a hire car unfairly and that can hardly be reinstated after the event. Not having a car is far worse than being charged an excess. I am highly dependent on my car. I cannot use public transport. On the matter of who was liable, I thought the road rules were clear. If a car turns right across the path of an on coming car travelling straight ahead and there are no stop signs or give way signs at the intersection, then the driver making the making the right hand turn is at fault for failing to give way.
Thanks again to the community for their comments and insights. Sorry to be so long winded

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Thanks for that, and apologies if this seems pedantic, but have you gone to AFCA?

Other avenues might be (note the .com so you can guess their bias, but)

https://www.insurancecouncil.com.au/for-consumers/a-regulated-industry

and the regulator, https://www.apra.gov.au/about-apra

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This is possibly the crux of the issue. Neither your insurer nor the other driver’s insurer knows who is ultimately responsible for the crash. If both driver’s are telling their insurer that the other party is responsible, then who will the insurer believe as

which is recommended by any good lawyer, as soon as you do, it is very hard to backtrack and may result in a claim being rejected.

I haven’t checked with NRMA, but where responsibility can’t be proven nor determined at the time a claim is lodged, then both parties are required to pay an excess. If responsibility is proven at a later date, the party which isn’t at fault usually has their excess refunded as the other parties insurer is responsible for making good any damage caused to the vehicle. You need to confirm this with NRMA before paying any excess.

If fault can’t be confirmed (this is why it is useful to have a police record as this can be used to verify who is at fault), then usually each party is responsible for the damage caused to their own vehicle and each party pays an excess. Looking at the NRMA website, they also have information about information you need to take at the scene of the crash. Some of this information could be used to assist in determining who is at fault. It is difficult to gather information after the crash as it becomes ‘he says’ and ‘she says’ in relation to what happened, the location ad direction of vehicles etc. This may make it difficult to determine who is at fault.

If the other driver is at fault, then you should have asked for their insurance details and made a claim directly with their insurer under the other driver’s policy. Not doing so and making a claim directly with the insurer may reinforce that where the crash fault lies is currently not known.

If this is the case, ask NRMA whether the car should be written off and ownership transferred to the NRMA. They may be willing to do this and pay you for the value of the vehicle nominated under the insurance policy certificate (possibly less any excess). They most likely will warehouse the vehicle, have it repaired and onsell it in a years or so time.

Also who said that it could take up to 12 months. If it was a smash repairer, I would ignore this as they might say this as they don’t want the job…could be too busy or not interested in doing the insurance claim for the damage on your vehicle. It may be worth getting a number of different quotes to see what others say. NRMA may have preferred repairers or allow you to get a number of quotes as part of the claim process.

Call centre staff are only doing their jobs and will stop assisting if caller’s are emotional and aren’t courteous and respectful. It is important when taking to call centre staff that you know exactly the questions you need to ask so that you can understand the process to gain a remedy. It is also important to read the car insurance product disclosure statement and policy certificate before contacting them so that you don’t have the wrong impression about what may happen moving forward.

It depends on the intersection as thee can be line markings which need to be obeyed. A solid line indicates a stop sign and a broken line a give way sign. If all roads on the intersection have no line markings, then this is a real problem and the road authority may have some responsibility for the accident…or each driver has some responsibility as one possibly shouldn’t have entered the intersection until is was safe to do so. It is worth looking at what the rules are in your particular state as different intersections have different rules.

Does your own policy include car hire for a nominated period. This may be useful to use until such time you know what the remedy will be in relation to your vehicle. Some policies (as a standard inclusion or an extra option) have car hire which you can use when a vehicle can’t be driven. The car hire period and assistance is limited which is something to be aware of as well.

Good luck and let us know how you get on.

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Many accidents even if the police assign legal liability to only one party, insurance companies assign proportional responsibility eg 20/80 30/70 50/50. Excess is usually payable in cases of proportional assessed responsibility.

In these cases you may seek reimbursement of excess and other costs sustained due to the accident through Courts or Civil & Administrative Tribunals, success is not guaranteed.

Excesses charged even if policies by both parties are held with the same company are considered by the Insurance Companies as the risk/responsibility incurred by the driver/drivers for the accident. Some age groups are considered a higher risk and so additional excess is payable when they are involved in an accident unless wholly not responsible (very few accidents have zero responsibility assigned to a particular driver in an accident).

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Thanks.

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The below statements are only my opinion based on a history of dealings and are not a proven statement of fact other than where we have had these outcomes. I feel your pain but this is what it is :frowning:

We have had similar excess and reduction of payout outcomes (third party insurance claims) from accidents that the police ruled as completely the other driver’s fault. My opinion is that the Insurance companies insist that a driver take all actions possible to avoid an accident, this includes sounding your horn, flashing headlights to warn the other driver, braking so as to avoid the other driver, accelerating to avoid the collision, not having certain prescribed drugs in your system, basically anything they can use to limit their exposure to claims. This particularly can be the action taken by the opposing Insurance company but not limited to them if a claim can be totally avoided by your insurer.

I believe in my thinking that an insurer’s first aim is to make maximum legal profits (this is actually Federal Company Law so is fact), somewhere below this comes the need to pay for claims. So limiting claims to the very least that they must pay is always an Insurer’s prime objective when dealing with an accident I suspect. In my humble opinion that concern at a corporate level for your welfare is only governed by their desire to keep payments forthcoming and if you prove to be too unprofitable they will decline future policies with you. If you are declined this will affect you trying to get future policies with other Insurers as well and when applying they ensure this by requiring you to declare any past declined acceptances.

To maximise your best outcome/outcomes,

  1. keep extensive written records of any verbal communications (if a Company makes recordings of the conversations request a copy of the recording),

  2. wherever possible only deal by written communications,

  3. seek legal advice at the beginning and at every point needed and there are lots of free Community legal centres that will happily provide assistance,

  4. if you receive adverse outcomes ensure they are in writing and then promptly appeal them firstly with the Company and if that fails progress the appeal further with relevant authorities eg AFCA,

  5. be firm in your requested outcome/outcomes whenever possible.

  6. If a request Blackholes then explain to the Company you will create a complaint with AFCA if they do not respond in a reasonable time eg 7 days. You may also wish to make a comment on the Company’s Facebook or other Social Media page. If no response contact AFCA and start a case with them but also then contact the Company and CC AFCA into the communication (Quoting your AFCA reference number in the document).

All of this will also stand you in good stead if you end up needing to go to a CAT (Civil & Admin Tribunal) or Courts of Law to recover any sums of money.

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Thanks for taking the time to provide your advice

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Both of us had a broken line. I was going straight ahead, he was turning right across my path. I was looking to my right, having checked the left to ensure there was no one coming from either of the directions I had to give way to. I didn’t expect the driver that didn’t have right of way to proceed directly across my path. The nature of the impact demonstrates the speed at which he hit me.

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The other Insurer will try to make a case that you failed to take all possible actions needed to avoid the collision possibly including that you failed to reduce speed sufficiently before the collision, that you possibly braked too late or failed to brake before the accident, that you failed to take notice of the possible risk, that you were driving too fast for the conditions of that day, that you failed to warn the other driver of the possibility of a collision eg using lights and or horn. There also may be other claim limiting factors they will raise with your insurer. It’s a dirty world in this regard. Even the idea that you didn’t expect the driver to cross your path could be seen as an admission of failing to consider that aspect and thus not driving with due care and attention in those circumstances.

Your Insurer for their part will try to maximise the claim they get from the other Insurer as it helps their profits in not having to spend more than they need to. They are most likely going to accept some level of blame apportionment even if only minimal from the other Insurer so they will likely still require your payment of excess (again it saves them some money).

This is Industry Best Practice and they do have an understanding of accepting some blame in many cases based on a lot of Cases they have all fought in the Courts. They know what issues will be raised and they have a better than fair idea of what they will get, so for them accepting the outcome saves Court time and saves them legal costs.

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Regardless of the claim and related claims about it, and regardless of anything that may or may not have transpired along the way between NRMA and @Vanfan, unless there is more to the story the core problem is NRMA and their underwriter IAG have apparently declined to engage with their customer over a prolonged time.

Details of the claim become secondary to the lack of engagement and passing information. There is no excuse or reason to not acknowledge a customer for any reason, and if something transpired where they felt it was their right to do so, that should have been clearly and formally communicated to the customer.

It appears the disconnect will not be fixed without AFCA and possibly APRA intervention. For that to occur will require lots of formality starting with a complaint where the Consumer Law Letter of Complaint tool may help frame it. Depending on the costs involved even engaging a solicitor might be in order, but my guess is it would be best heard in NCAT.

Even if NRMA/IAG were to refuse the claim it seems incumbent they would document that; and if they are processing it they should be keeping @Vanfan advised of what is transpiring. If not NRMA/IAG, the panel shop assigned should be communicating if only to reinforce the status quo.

I had a minor not at fault I claimed through the at fault driver’s RACV policy. Everything went OK and it was booked in 3 months out, estimated repair time 3 days, rental car to be provided. A week before the booking the shop advised so sorry no part available. Shops do not schedule in parts more than a week or so ahead for reasonable reasons, they assume parts will be there when needed and sometimes they are not. I cannot say it went smoothly but on it went, and another 6 weeks later including near 2 weeks in the shop I had my car back not quite like it was before the comparatively minor crash but close and after going back a few times they wore me down and I acquiesced.

A 12 months parts delay seems pretty special no matter what the part. If one has a ‘special’ vehicle built in the tens or hundreds I could imagine a part might need to be built bespoke, but 12 months still seems outrageous. If it is an older vehicle the insurer may try to source a part of the same vintage rather than a new one to save themselves a few dollars - they present it as not making the vehicle better than it was by putting a 2021 part in a 1990 car. Marketing spin is what it is. The impost for them screwing around is not their concern, their profits are as @grahroll explained.

Having low volume in Australia [French] cars myself and understanding the sparse parts supplies for them, would you share what make and model you have as informational for others who might be so tempted to own one?

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Thanks for this comment. I think you have perfectly encapsulated why I am so upset with NRMA. They seem to have an adversarial attitude to a long standing profitable customer. Apart from a minor accident with a kangaroo, when we paid the excess, to the best of my recollection we haven’t made a claim on our policies in the last 20 years.
Regarding the make and model of the vehicle…it is a top of the line 2017 Honda CRV with all the driver assist features. The part in question is the sensor at the front of the vehicle which alerts you if you are approaching another vehicle or object and, if you have enabled automatic braking, it brakes automatically. The car can be driven safely and legally without it, but the repairer has advised that if we take the car without that part, our insurance may not cover the later work. I also have previously owned European cars. I was attracted to Honda precisely because they have a fixed price servicing scheme while under warranty and because I thought parts would be readily available. Also it’s a great car. I love it. However, I have been told (cannot independently confirm) that Honda keeps only a very limited inventory of parts in Australia. A person in the parts industry has told me it is one of the worst brands in terms of delays in getting parts. This is only his opinion. No doubt the COVID situation hasn’t helped.

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