Tell us your insurance stories

CHOICE is looking at car and home & contents insurance and we want to hear your stories. Have you ever found yourself out of pocket after a car accident, robbery, flood or fire because you didn’t have enough insurance?

Tell us in the comments below.

I had an accident in April last year resulting in damage to the left rear of the car, including the indicator. My insurance company is willing to pay for the repairs, but the problem is that I can’t afford to pay the $450 excess required, as I am on a disability pension and can barely afford to feed myself and my child, never mind pay that kind of money out of the blue! I do think, at the least, they should have been very clear about the excess and ideally offered me a low excess alternative, even if it meant paying a slightly higher premium. At least I would have been able to have my car repaired!

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Sorry to hear about the trouble @beth.ten.have. Hopefully your insurer can sort out a payment plan or another alternative that will help you out. You should also be able to vary your excess for next time premiums. Best of luck getting it sorted.

With every insurer I have dealt with she can, if her circumstances permit, make changes to her policy at any time during the year for an adjusted premium.

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While I am sympathetic, isn’t the excess clearly shown on your “Certificate of Insurance” document under a major heading like “Excess Details”? You should have also received a PDS document that explained what an excess is, including options to change it higher or lower depending on where you start with it. FWIW as the excess gets reduced the cost usually goes up quickly, and often dramatically as the insurer is increasingly exposed to having to pay-out on your claim. Some (many or all?) insurers will not accept an excess below a certain value as it would cause claims for all sorts of minor issues, and $450 is possibly already on the lower side.

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That’s true! Comment updated

In the throws of updating my current car with something new, I went looking for the best value insurance to understand the total package I would be paying. Without logging in, I obtained an online quote from my present provider and was pleasantly surprised - $692 with $100 discount to purchase online - total $592.

Once I’d made the decision and purchased the new car, I went online to actually purchase the insurance. Imagine my surprise at $876 after the discount when creating a quote after I logged into my account.

Fortunately, I still had the quote number from the original and used that. The insurance company honoured it without a word.

My tip - try an anonymous online quote first.


I live in an apartment block and have house insurance through the body corporate.
I have been informed that any problem needs to be addressed by me, paid for me.
My shower recess is leaking so I must pay thousands to fix it. No insurance paid.
The insurance will be paid for making good the damage left.

Not a good deal and I believe it is the norm.
Choice could investigate this

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If you do change your policy, quite often it is better to have a slightly higher excess as this will reduce your policy costs. This is only true if historically you have not made many claims (say once every 3-5 years or more). The additional premium with the reduced excess will cost you more in the long run.

What you may be better off doing, if you fall into the category of not making many claims in the past, is find out the policy costs for a lower excess and then setting up a account which you place the difference in to cover you when you do need to pay an excess/make a claim.

For example, the insurance may be $800 with a $500 excess and $1000 with a $100 excess. Bank/save the additional $200 and in the long run, providing you are not accident prone, you will be in front.

Something else to be careful of is if your indicator is damaged in any way (including missing part of the covering lense/clear yellow cover, the car could be deemed unroadworthy by the State Transport Authority/police and you could be up for fine and also direction to get it repaired within a nominated timeframe.

If you are tight on cash, see if a local car wrecker has a lense for your make and model (providing the body of the car is also not damaged making the replacement impossible).


Ask to see the body corporate insurance policy (also called Residential strata insurance) and you may find that this only covers common items and common building in the unit complex (such as exterior walls, roof, public liability etc…) and not damage caused by devices/items within the units.

This information sheet from the Insurance Council of Australia outlines which is usually covered by body corporate insurance.

It is worth exploring what cover you have and what general house insurance you may need to cover unforeseen events, should you not wish to accept the risk in the event that the interior of your unit is badly damaged by fire, flood or other natural events.

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We only have positive things to say about our insurance company (Resilium which is a part of the Suncorp Group).

We have only ever made one claim (touch wood) as it occurred as a result of the big November 2014 hail storm in Brisbane. Our house had damage and I was impressed with the speed of completion of the works (took 5 hours to make the house secure, 10 days to replace windows and fix roof pointing - could have been sooner but they took time to approve works due to high work load and about 2 months for everything else to be resolved).

Something we did learn was that with house and contents insurance, if there is damage to both house and contents from the one event (as in our case), one only needs to pay the higher of the two excesses and not both separately. This reduced cost on our part for the damage caused by the storm.

They also didn’t question contents damage and replacement costs…provided close up photos of the damage and also links to equivalent replacement items.

We also use a private independent broker who held pursue the claims on our behalf to also reduce the stress or doing so by us. They also touched base with us regularly to ensure the rectification works were progressing.

As a result we have recommended our broker (who we have been with for 17 years) to others.

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That is true, excepting when your cash flow is day-to-day and[quote=“beth.ten.have, post:3, topic:13430”]
I am on a disability pension and can barely afford to feed myself and my child,…if it meant paying a slightly higher premium. At least I would have been able to have my car repaired!
It is not always about saving by “buying in bulk” or getting the best long term deal, it is often about surviving today and tomorrow for some people. That saving account to pay a future excess might or might not be practical when there is always the possibility of another claim… :frowning:

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Most people only lodge complaints. I had floor damage last year and am with NRMA. They were wonderful, treated me seriously and with respect. They sent an assessor, I paid the excess, it turned out to be a huge job, I had to move out of my home for four weeks. NRMA paid me for temp accommodation. Have only praise for them. What I anticipated being a dreadful experience proved otherwise, thanks to the handling by the NRMA. I know that they are not the cheapest, but I have always had great dealings with them.

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I understand your frustration. The problem is that most people don’t expect to make a claim so are usually focused on the cost of the policy when they are renewing. A standard excess these days is around $625.00 as a minimum, which is a lot of money to find if you are a single income family.
My background is automotive body repairs and we had many customers with “low cost” policies that require payment of your excess to lodge the claim (regardless of fault). For younger drivers this can be a real problem as most have a high excess and can’t even afford to lodge a claim at all. As always, check the fine print. The entire Body Repair Industry has been badly affected by changes in the way Insurers handle claims and now we have Insurers repairing cars and setting prices, the long term repercussions are that there are and will be fewer repairers with less choice available and we all know what that means.


AAMI efficiency
Last Friday (03.03.17) my sun and his wife had an accident in my car. The car was badly damaged and my sun and his wife were taken to a hospital.
On the same day at 1:00pm I informed my insurance of the accident and asked what information they need to process a claim (I have comprehensive car insurance with AAMI). AAMI requested the collision report from the police and the details of the towing company.
By 5:00pm I had the requested information and passed it on to AAMI.
Two details I wanted to mention:
a) police told me over the phone that the accident was caused by the other party and no fault was allocated to the driver of my car
b) The towing company had the car towed to their depot. Their assessor had the damage of the car assessed and the company was waiting on advise what to do.

AAMI told me that my insurance does not include the choice of repairer and the car would be towed on Monday morning, first thing, to their choice of repairer and an assessor would be in contact with me by lunch time latest. Lunch time came and no call.
I rang the AAMI repairer and was told that they haven’t been informed by AAMI nor do they have my car.
The Towing company told me that the car is still in their holding yard and they were still waiting on instructions.
When I rang AAMI at 12.15 they confirmed that nothing had been done. Towing had not been organized by the time of my call and unless the car is at their preferred repairer Smash Care Wantirna no assessor will have a look at the car.
That could take until Thursday.
I live in a suburb with limited public transport and rely on my car for these little things like shopping for food or picking up my grand daughter.
AAMI told me to get a hire car which I have to pay for and later try to recover the cost from the other party.
With other words in spite of being ‘fully insured’, no accident claim since I joined AAMI in 1986 and no fault allocated in the accident I am supposed to pay for a loan car while AAMI is not in a hurry to do their job.
To make it clear - to pay for a hire car for the time it takes to have the care repaired is one thing but paying for the hire car because AAMI can’t be bothered to do their job in a timely manner is outrages.


Even if paying your insurance say monthly, still look at the additional premium for a low and higher excesses. If a no claim or low frequency claim history, place the difference in the cost every month into a savings account to use as the excess in the future. Doing so would need patience and also discipline…resisting the temptation to spend the money for other purposes when accumulated.

An idea could be …for the insurance industry to offer a product where a customer could progressively save for the excess. that being allowing one to save a excess within the policy payment over time…with the additional charge falling away when the value of the excess has accumulated. Customer would have to top up the excess if a claim is reached before the excess amount has been accumulated. This would be a win for the insurer as they would receive modest returns on the accumulated excesses they hold and the customer would not be in a position like @beth.ten.have where the excess couldn’t be paid in full at the time of the claim.


My car was badly damaged in the 2014 Brisbane hail storm (and house too!). Wasn’t prepared for the process regarding car assessment- I booked in to go to the insurer assessment centre which was a large shed in an industrial area with a gaggle of hail repairer reps waiting to look over your car as you literally drove in the entrance and try and get you to drive to their area hence signing you up to their company for repairs. Sadly my car was too badly damaged and they quickly walked away and I got directed to where a couple of the insurers assessors were checking for write off level of damage- which I had. So on the spot I was told what market valuation I was being given, the car was being technically written off on the spot so it was now unroadworthy and if I didn’t accept immediately there would be complex paperwork to keep it on the road. As someone with no preparation, knowledge of what market price I should be aiming for (or can I haggle in this instance), or what really were the options for me to not progress on the spot and do some research and haggling or chose to buy the car back from the insurer, I felt very uncomfortable, pressured and feel I ended up not getting what I should have in the situation. They should give some warnings about the process and preparation you can do before you turn up as these large assessment sheds are now the response to large scale vehicle hail damage, which in Brisbane happens every year.

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@kathmad - what a shocking experience, I can understand the pressure you would feel in that situation. Thanks for sharing this, if anyone else here has had similar experiences after a major event please let us know.

The biggest challenge is that as a consumer (customer) you don’t have any rights related to an insurance claim.
AAMI is not the cheapest insurance. In spite of this I have no choice of repairers as I found out. There is no urgency because the insurance company has 15 business days to come back with an assessment of the claim. I read the cpl. policy and it does not mention one single right you as customer may have.
The Code of Practice for the insurance companies is written for the insurer and not for the client. I checked that too.
With other words the accident took place last Friday at lunch time. Claim was lodged at 1:00pm on Friday and I haven’t had any feedback yet about the car e.g. if it can be repaired or need to be written off.
35 years ago I had an accident in Germany. The car was towed to a car repair shop and repaired within 7 days (including weekend). I was entitled for a hire car because the accident was not my fault.
After the car was returned to me the insurance of the other party contacted me and asked why I had a hire car for seven (7) days. As it turned out the body repairer had five days to repair the car. Because it took longer the repairer had to pay for 2 days hire car. With other words 7 days after the accident I had the car back.
Something you can only dream about in Australia.
In general I found that AAMI house and content insurance is very responsive. We had a very good experience with AAMI after a house break-in. I suppose that is one of the reasons I am so disappointed with the car claim. Car accident happened last Friday and no call or update on my car. It hasn’t been touched yet.
As AAMI advertises: We are here to help you 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
Or as the Code of Practice states: We will contact claims handling in a timely manner.


I had been with the same insurer - CGU - for House and Contents insurance for many years. I changed to RACQ through doing an on-line insurance comparison when CGU’s premium increased significantly (from $700 per year to $1300+) after the Brisbane Floods in 2011. (And although I live near the Brisbane River, I am in a very high spot and many metres above both the 1974 and 2011 flood levels.) Interestingly, although RACQ quoted a good rate (about $900) at the time, after the first year it started increasing every year until it is now $1300+.

I think I have made only three claims on my house and contents insurance in 45 years and never had any problems with the insurers. However, over the Christmas period 2015/2016 the skylight in my kitchen was damaged by hail (as was the roof of a nearby patio). I didn’t realise the skylight was damaged until water started dripping through the bottom of the skylight during another downpour about a month later. Inspection of the skylight by a roofing contractor (I thought I may have had a broken tile near the skylight) revealed a crack of about 12 cm length in the bottom corner of the skylight. He said it was most definitely caused by a large hailstone (given that there was significant hail damage to the nearby roof) and it would be covered by insurance. There were several large holes in the roof of the patio but I had decided, with an excess of $500, it would be cheaper to replace the damaged sheets myself without making a claim. However, when the skylight damage emerged, I made a claim with RACQ. Then my problems began!
RACQ outsource their assessment and repairs to outside contractors … in my case - Crawfords Assessors and Lynx Contractors. The assessor came and took photos fairly promptly, but their builders took over two weeks to do an inspection and then said the skylight drainage tray was not adequate for heavy rain and it had nothing to do with the crack. (This,despite the skylight never having leaked before.) Meanwhile, further heavy rain occured and the water problem became worse and the pine ceilings around the skylight started taking water. A light fitting below the skylight exploded during one storm event. After this frightening experience, I phoned RACQ, Crawfords, and Lynx contacts - all three - and they sent an electrician out to disconnect two light fittings near the skylight (so I then had no working lights in the kitchen) and someone came the same day and put silicone over the crack in the skylight. More heavy rain proved the silicone was not effective in stopping the leakage … and the pine ceiling was starting to show signs of damage. The kitchen cupboards (also pine) became damaged too. I wrote to RACQ with my concerns. I also pointed out the photos from the original assessment showed no ceiling or cupboard damage … so all significant water damage that occured happened after I had made my original claim. They said I would have to make a new/separate claim for the water damage to the ceiling and cupboards … with a second $500 excess!

My pine ceilings run in a continuous line through the family room, kitchen and dining room. To do the job properly, according to a builder, the whole ceiling should be been replaced. They offered me $1,000 to replace the damaged part of the ceiling only and $800 to replace the skylight - less $1,000 in excess. The cheapest of three quotes to replace the skylight was $2,100. I made no claim for the damaged patio roof, or my kitchen cupboards as the cupboards were quite worn and I had decided to have a new kitchen installed. I refused their offer.

The upshot - seven months later - was I got a new skylight and the damaged boards only replaced, stained and polished in the ceiling, rewiring of the two damaged light fittings. They gave me around $5,000 less $1,000 excess. I was over $2,000 out of pocket. To add insult to injury, I had a new kitchen installed but the builder had to put tarps over and around the skylight to prevent rain from entering because the skylight still hadn’t been replaced.

Had RACQ promptly assessed my original claim, they would only have had to pay for a new skylight … and I would not have endured months of hardship and extra costs. Had they accepted that their tardiness caused the subsequent significant damage to the ceiling I would not have been required to pay an extra $500 excess for a second claim.

I am a very unhappy RACQ customer. But are any insurers any better?

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