Non-fault claims and no-claims discounts can make car insurance a minefield to navigate when you are looking to take out a new policy.

We have put together this guide that covers what to do if you are involved in an accident, what your options are with your insurance provider, and to help you decide whether you want to go ahead and make a claim.

What is the difference between non-fault and fault car insurance claims?

 A ‘non-fault’ car insurance claim is when the fault of an accident lies with the other party/parties involved. For example, someone drives into the back of your vehicle. In the case of a non-fault insurance claim, your insurance provider will attempt to recover the cost of your vehicle repair from the person ‘at fault’ for the accident and/or their insurance provider. When settled, your claim will be recorded as a non-fault claim on your insurance history.

A ‘fault’ car insurance claim is when the fault of the accident lies with yourself. However, a fault car insurance claim could also occur if your insurance provider fails to recover all repair costs from the other party/parties involved. For example, if your parked car is hit and the other party drives off without leaving any details, your insurance claim would be recorded as a ‘fault’ claim.

However, it is important to remember that a ‘fault’ claim and actually being to blame for the accident are NOT the same thing. If the damage occurred to your vehicle was out of your control, but your insurance provider still has to pay out, it is recorded as a fault claim.

Do you have to tell your insurance provider about your accident?

If your car has been involved in an accident, you must inform your insurance provider as soon as possible, even if you don’t plan on making a claim. Make it clear in your contact that you are only providing information, you do not wish to make a claim at this stage, and your insurance provider should not attempt to contact the other party’s insurer without your knowledge or consent.

When you are looking to take out a new car insurance policy, you are asked to give details of all accidents that you, as a driver, have been involved in over the past 5 years. This includes whether you were at fault or not, if they occurred when driving a company car, and even those accidents where you didn’t make a claim.

What happens if you don’t tell your insurance provider about previous car accidents?

Insurance providers carry out checks across insurance databases such as the Claims and Underwriting Exchange (CUE), and are able to cross reference anything you have, or potentially find anything you haven’t, disclosed. If your insurance provider finds something that you haven’t previously disclosed, your insurance policy could be invalidated.

Why does a claim impact your next car insurance premium?

 A large proportion of your insurance premium is based on the probability of you being involved in an accident in the future.  A person with a history of making claims will have to pay more for their insurance, even if they have protected their ‘no claims’ discounts. This is because, statistically, they are more likely to make a claim in the future. When a claim is made, your insurance provider will have to recover the costs of any repairs.

If you are not at fault for a claim, but your insurance provider is unable to recover the full cost of repairs, you will most likely see an increase in your insurance premium.

Do you still have to pay an excess for a non-fault claim?

Whether you are at fault or not, you will usually be required to pay your excess. Your excess may be waived under certain circumstances. For example, if you make a claim, and the other party admits liability. It is best to check the wording in your policy document to see where you stand.

Does a non-fault claim affect your no claims discount?

If you make a non-fault claim, it is possible that you may lose some or all of your no claims discount, unless you have opted to protect it.

Insurance providers work on the basis that drivers with non-fault claims are more likely to have a fault claim in the future, and so it is likely that you will see an increase in your insurance premium. If protected, any applicable no-claims discount is applied after your insurance premium is calculated. However, the increased premium, even with any applied discount, may mean you see an increase in the overall price of the policy.

Could an insurance claim be invalidated if I failed to disclose a previous accident?

An insurance claim could be invalidated if you failed to disclose any previous accidents at the time you took out the policy. Insurance providers use insurance databases such as the Claims and Underwriting Exchange (CUE) to cross reference anything you have, or potentially find anything you haven’t, disclosed.

If your insurance provider finds something that you haven’t previously disclosed, not only could your claim be declined, but you also run the risk of invalidating your insurance policy.

How many years will a claim have an impact on your insurance?

Insurance providers ask for details on all claims, both fault and non-fault, made within the last 5 years.

Can you check your car insurance claims history?

Yes. Regardless of whether you made a claim or not, all reported incidents are held on the Claims and Underwriting Exchange (CUE) database. You will need to go to the Motor Insurers Bureau website to make a request for the information. This can be done by either downloading a form or completing it online. The site holds all data for 6 years from the date the claim was closed.

If you disagree with any of the information held on there, you should contact the insurance company that provided the information to the Motor Insurers Bureau.

Tony Buckingham, Managing Director of Buckingham Insurance says, “Non fault claims, fault claims, no claims discount, protected no claims discount – these terms can suddenly make looking for car insurance sound very daunting and confusing. At Buckingham Insurance, our staff are subject matter experts and will talk you through every step of the policy, ensuring that you get the best possible cover.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us or telephone one of our friendly staff on 01246 575 625 (Clowne) or 01773 748 627 (Ripley).”