If you're in a car accident get the name, address and telephone number of other drivers involved. Ask for the name of their insurer and make a note of their registration and drivers licence details. If you can, photograph the damage on your phone.
Think about insurance costs when deciding what car you can afford.
How to pay less
Having a clean driving licence and not making claims make the biggest difference to what you pay. The type of car you have plays a big part, too.
Here are other ways to reduce your car insurance premium:
- Name specific drivers on your policy — but be careful not to let anyone who isn't named drive your car.
- Shop around — don't just look at price. Look at what different policies cover and what they exclude.
- For lower value cars, choose third party or third party, fire and theft policies.
- Ask for a discount if you have other policies, eg house or contents insurance, with the same insurer.
- Tell your insurer if you park your car in a locked garage, or your car has an alarm.
- Only take extra cover you really need, eg breakdown insurance.
- Be aware you'll pay a higher premium for drivers who are under 25 or who don't have a full licence.
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Common reasons for refused claims
Very few claims are turned down, say Insurance Council New Zealand. But your insurer may question your claim or refuse to pay if you:
Not covered for what you claim for
If you only have third-party insurance, you are not covered for damage you cause to your own car, eg if you reverse into a wall you will have to pay for your own repairs. Check with your insurer what your policy does and does not cover.
If your car is in an accident and it's not safe enough to pass a Warrant of Fitness, eg tyres with thin tread, your claim may be refused.
Drugs and alcohol
Your insurer will ask if you drank alcohol in the hours before an accident. If you did, you must tell them — even if you weren't over the legal limit. Otherwise they might deny your claim.
Break conditions of your licence
If you have a restricted licence and cause an accident while carrying passengers, or after 10pm, your insurer may not pay. If you drive a truck when your licence only allows you to drive a car or van, your claim may also be turned down.
Unnamed driver at the wheel
If you name drivers on your policy, be careful not to let anyone other than named drivers use your car. If you do and they have an accident, your insurer is unlikely to honour your claim.
Using a private car for business
Vehicles used for work, eg for deliveries or a builder's van, need business insurance. You may not be covered if you damage your car while using it for work.
Not telling insurer your car has been modified
Tell your insurer if your car has been altered, eg lowered, given a custom paint job or had its performance boosted. If you have an accident, you may find you should have been paying more and your policy does not cover these modifications.
Not taking enough care
If you left your car unlocked in a supermarket car park for a week with the keys on the seat, and it was stolen, you may not have a claim.
Disputing a refused claim
If you have had a claim refused and disagree with your insurer's decision, first take it up with their complaints team. If you can't sort it out directly, ask your insurer which dispute resolution service they belong to and get advice from them.
Read more on Motor Vehicle Insurance(external link) — Insurance Council of New Zealand