Your insurer has the right to know your full accident history

The Car Insurance Blog received an interesting comment from a visitor. We would like to share this in a brief discussion on the requirements to make a full and complete disclosure.

Comment/ Question

“I had a minor accident, so claimed. I then get a phone call that they are not accepting the claim as they have done a back ground check and that I told them I had two accident not three with previous insurance. Why did they not do a background check first, it’s as though the do this on purpose to try catch you out. DO I HAVE ANY RIGHTS? What can I do?”

Response

We need to emphasize 2 important aspects:

•   Full and correct disclosure are necessary. If you are asked a Q about how many claims you had in a specified period, answer correctly. If you can’t recall or are unsure then first check the info and get back to your insurer. Your premium is based on the correctness of the disclosure and whether you misrepresent the info (intentionally or unintentionally – the insurer may never know!) your premium will be wrong. The contract will also come into effect based on the wrong info and as such it can be voided.

•    When should an insurer check the info? Ideally it should be done upfront if there are sufficient resources to check the info. Practically, it may be done at claims stage. Either way, it doesn’t take away your responsibility to give correct info.

Who knows what?

In an earlier post we referred to the fact that some information falls within the “domain” of the insured client. Only he will have this info and he MUST disclose this to the insurer. Other information is known to the insurer and need not be disclosed by the insured client.

We would like to refer to and distinguish between the information only known by the vehicle owner, and the facts known by the insurer.

Material facts only known by the vehicle owner when applying for car insurance

These facts would include the following:

Personal details

  • Name and surname
  • Home address
  • Identity number
  • Years driving experience
  • Accident record and info on traffic violations
  • Driver impairments etc

Vehicle Details

  • Make and model of vehicle
  • Colour of the vehicle
  • Kilometres on the clock/odometer
  • Whether vehicle has been in an accident
  • Whether vehicle is to be insured at market value
  • Vehicle security features

Usage details

  • Whether vehicle is for personal or business usage
  • Who the regular drivers will be
  • Estimated distance to be travelled
  • Where vehicle is to be kept / garage etc

Material facts to be established by the car insurer

Not all the material facts are known only by the vehicle owner. The car insurer will have specific risk models to enable the insurer to calculate risks. The car insurer will have available information on the following:

  • Vehicle accident statistics
  • Vehicle crime statistics
  • Geographical information and statistics pertaining to this specific area
  • Vehicle market and replacement values
  • Cost of vehicle repairs
  • Cost of processing insurance claims
  • Details on effectiveness of vehicle security systems and tracking companies etc..

Conclusion and Advice

When buying insurance, be very precise in what you disclose – don’t leave the door open to have your disclosures challenged. Rather disclose too much than too little! Even if your incomplete disclose might not be fraudulent – it might still make your insurance contract null and void!!

Also view:

Effective history checks could provide cheaper car insurance premiums

Finding car insurance – but only if you are willing to reveal secrets

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