Trouble with the car insurance claim process
September 27, 2011 5:47 PM   Subscribe

Got a really weird call from a car insurance company after a minor accident. How does the car insurance system work in Australia?

A few days ago, my wife reversed into a parked car (illegal sort of parking by the other car, but I'm not sure that's relevant really for this question) in a clinic's driveway. There was nobody inside the other car, and my wife was alone in our car. There was some damage to the rear end of our car, and the driver's side of the other car. The driver of the other car went absolutely berserk when she discovered this a few minutes later. My wife remained calm and gave her all possible details (name, mobile number, car registration, insurance company etc.). Couple of clinic's staff members also helped diffuse the tension. As soon as she came home and gave me the details, I called our insurance company and made arrangements to have our car repaired. I also sent the claim number provided by my insurance company to the other person. This was acknowledged next day when we got the same claim number messaged back to us by this other person.

Our car got repaired and came back in good condition. We paid an "excess" to the insurance company.

Now, this morning, my wife got a weird phone call from a different insurance company (not 100% sure if they insure the other person's car). The caller started berating my wife about the accident, and accused her of not filing an insurance claim, and then started ranting about "You've just admitted that you caused the accident, I am recording this" repeatedly. My wife clarified that we are with a different insurance company and our claim has already been processed. This did not stop the rants. The call ended without any specific demand by this insurance company.

Our insurance company has only my phone number on their record (even though it covers my wife as well), so this other company has probably got my wife's number from the person whose car was banged.

My wife is a bit unnerved by the whole experience of this phone call, especially the accusations about admitting fault etc. which may imply some kind of further legal action. I am not sure what I can do at this stage. I thought exchanging details after the accident, filing an insurance claim and exchanging that information with the other party, and finally paying the excess was as far as this was going to go. Is there more to this process?
posted by vidur to Law & Government (10 answers total)
Maybe this is a silly question, but do you have any proof its an insurance agent that called? It sounds like it could be a person that's irrational and upset that their car got hit. After all, they didn't even make any demands.
posted by trogdole at 5:51 PM on September 27, 2011

That wasn't an insurance company, that was the person you hit.

Was this a psychiatric clinic?
posted by jamjam at 5:52 PM on September 27, 2011 [7 favorites]

Best answer: You seem to have done all the right things in terms of paperwork.

If the other guy was insured, and he makes a claim, his insurance company will seek compensation from yours. Generally, the insurance companies will duke it out between themselves.

There is absolutely no reason for the other's party's insurance company to be calling you directly.

You can call your insurer to see if they can help put your mind at ease.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:56 PM on September 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

The caller started berating my wife about the accident, and accused her of not filing an insurance claim, and then started ranting about "You've just admitted that you caused the accident, I am recording this" repeatedly.

My response to this would be "I am happy to work through the insurance claims system as we previously agreed. Do not contact me personally again. If you persist in bothering me, I will consult with my attorney about obtaining a restraining order [or whatever this is called in .au] against you and obtaining other relief. I keep a record of all your commmunications to my household. Do not contact me personally again."
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 6:14 PM on September 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

If this happens again you should definitely call a lawyer. Tell the other person that all future communication will be through your lawyer. And then hang up.
posted by twblalock at 6:22 PM on September 27, 2011

Response by poster: It was a GP clinic, nothing specific to psychiatry. But this other driver really did lose it (sat on the ground in the driveway, started crying and shouting etc.). It was all quite strange, as this was a minor accident with no injury to any person. So yeah, could've been her. I hadn't even considered this possibility. Will take care on future calls, if any, to be brief and mention lawyers.

Thanks for the tip, red thoughts. I just called our insurance company and they assured me that there doesn't seem to be anything pending from our end, and added that they'll call this other insurance company and see what this thing is all about.

Thanks all for the responses and putting my mind at ease. I think we've got this sorted.
posted by vidur at 6:28 PM on September 27, 2011

Best answer: Australian here. For what it's worth I have never heard of anything remotely like this happening after any kind of accident I've been involved with or my friends or family have been involved with, and I would be aghast if something like this happened and I'm incredibly skeptical that the person who called your wife has anything to do with an insurance company whatsoever.

Insurance company people don't give a crap about pissy claims in a fender bender, and from a legal standpoint they would certainly be way more cautious about dealing with someone than what you've described and in all but the most extenuating circumstances it would be a letter not a phone call.

This is wild conjecture, but, to me, it sounds like the other person involved with the accident maybe tried to claim for a few other things on the car that were bothering her - things that were not the result of the accident. She's gotten some pushback from the insurance company - or a repair cost quote or an excess she's not happy with - and is trying to take it out on your poor partner under the misguided belief that "admittance" will somehow get her claim processed in a way she's happy with.
posted by smoke at 10:09 PM on September 27, 2011

Best answer: then started ranting about "You've just admitted that you caused the accident, I am recording this" repeatedly

Recording of phone conversations is generally illegal in NSW unless all of the principal parties to the conversation consent, expressly or impliedly, to the recording:

Prohibition on installation, use and maintenance of listening devices
7 Prohibition on installation, use and maintenance of listening devices
(1) A person must not knowingly install, use or cause to be used or maintain a listening device:
(b) to record a private conversation to which the person is a party.

(a "listening device" in this context includes any device capable of being used to record a conversation or words spoken to or by any person in conversation)

That's why when you ring a call centre you'll often hear a recorded message "this call may be recorded for quality control or training purposes" - by persisting with the call you are opting in to the possibility that you may be recorded.

No insurance company would initiate a call & then inform the callee part-way through that it's being recorded. That's just silly.

There's an exception, that one can record a conversation if it's "reasonably necessary to protect your lawful interests", but I'd be very surprised if an insurance company would rely on this rather vague framing for any old call made willy-nilly to somebody who isn't even their customer - you'd have to assume the insurance companies would err on the side of caution & issue upfront warnings.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:04 PM on September 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks, folks. Marking this as resolved now.
posted by vidur at 11:47 PM on September 27, 2011

Best answer: Australian here - I've had something similar happen to my parents - they got threatening phonecalls from a person who claimed to represent an insurance company but turned out to be the wife of the man who crashed his car into their front fence (who didn't have insurance, or a clue).

Do not deal with this person. Do not engage them. Calmly and pleasantly refer them to your insurance people, give them the details and hang up. I would also call your insurance people and let them know that there seems to be an issue with the claim/ants - they're used to dealing with all sorts of lunatics and crazies and will make a note in the case file. If it has to go further (ie to the police) there'll be something on the record.

For what it's worth, smoke might be right about pushback from the other person's insurance company, but I personally think you're dealing with an A-grade idiot, just like we were. There's a lot of them about and they usually just fade away - generally about the time they get themselves into a new mess with someone else. If it persists and turns into harassment, talk to the duty officer at your local police station - it's possible they might be able to send someone around to "make enquiries" - the sight of a uniform on the doorstep tends to quiet things down, I find. Good luck!
posted by ninazer0 at 11:57 PM on September 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

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