It is against the law in Singapore to drive a motor vehicle without a valid insurance policy to cover third party injuries. However, while drivers may know enough to get their cars insured, making the actual claim is a different story—most of us don’t really think about it until an accident takes place. While one cannot anticipate when disaster will strike, it’s important to understand general car insurance claim rules and avoid the mistakes that can get your car insurance claim denied.
To understand what mistakes to avoid when making a car insurance claim, it’s important to know what insurers look for when processing these claims. Their protocol in handling claims includes verifying that the policyholder was indeed involved in the accident, then determining the extent to which the policyholder is responsible for the accident or whether a third-party is at fault.
To properly assess the liability of the parties involved, insurers need to thoroughly review accident reports. That means the policyholder needs to provide these reports, as failure to do so may lead the insurer to repudiate liability.
1. Failure to document the accident
In the aftermath of a car accident, several steps should be taken by the driver: the exchange of particulars between the parties involved and noting down of vehicle numbers. For safety reasons, your car may be required to be moved to the road shoulder. In such instances, make sure that you’ve taken photos of the scene of the accident and the damages done to all vehicles before anything is moved from the scene.
Some elements to photograph include the angle of impact, license plates, visible damages and the accident area. As insurers depend on timely and accurate information of the accidents, such prompt action and documentation is necessary and failure to do so may lead to a dispute on your claim.
Hence, a valuable asset to have in these situations is an in-vehicle camera. Vehicles owners are strongly recommended to install them in their car as the video recordings often provide clear and objective evidence of the circumstances leading to the incident and help insurers obtain a more complete picture of how the accident occured.
2. Failure to report the accident
Another important requirement is to report the accident to your insurer within 24 hours or by the next working day. The Motor Claims Framework (MCF) by the General Insurance Association states that “the end of the next working day is the timeframe for reporting—meaning if the accident happens on a Saturday night, then Monday would be the next working day.”
Failure to file an accident report with your insurer is in fact a breach of the insurance policy conditions. It may lead to serious repercussions, such as the loss of protection for the policyholder, the invitation to renew the policy, and the confiscation of the policyholder’s No Claim Discount (NCD) entitlement.
3. Failure to make a police report
If there are injured parties in the accident, a further report must be made with the police which must also take place within 24 hours of the accident. So call for medical assistance and the police as soon as possible.
Other situations that require a traffic police report involve fatality, hit-and-run cases, and damage to government property, foreign vehicles, pedestrians or cyclists. Failure to present a police report on these incidents may cause a delay or even denial of your car accident insurance claim.
4. Use of private vehicles for business or commercial purposes
A typical car insurance policy is limited to the use of the insured vehicle for social domestic and entertainment purposes. So if the accident occurs while using your vehicle for business—for example, delivering items to a customer or letting someone else pay you to rent your vehicle—the insurer has the right to reject your claim as your policy would be void. However, there are certain premiums that cover drivers who want to make extra cash with their vehicle, such as those who use their car GrabHitch.
5. Having an unregistered driver
Is your car being driven by your spouse, child or friend at the time of the accident? It may be that the policy you’ve chosen does not cover anyone else except for you, the policyholder. If the unregistered driver is driving your car at the time of the accident, you may have difficulty getting your claim approved by your insurer.
But this does not mean that no one else can drive your car; the same protection can be offered to others by registering them as additional drivers in your policy. By choosing the right policy based on who drives your car, you can extend the same coverage to your loved ones and avoid the risk of getting your car insurance claims denied.
Know the process
Make sure you fully understand your insurer’s conditions and the extent of the policy’s coverage before choosing a premium. Always keep in hand your insurer’s hotline and other contact details, and know when to expect a reply and resolution. Having car insurance coverage can ease financial burden when there is an accident, so it’s important to know the steps to take and avoid the common mistakes when making a car insurance claim.