Is it wiser to just keep your mouth shut sometimes !

Submitted: Monday, Oct 14, 2013 at 10:20
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Just had some mates back from a high attrition rate Cape Trip , one rolled his Prado on the loosegravel of the development rd and being a towie he sized it up pretty quick as a write off.

He contacted his total care insurer and trying to be helpful explained this to them and almost instantly the insurers whole approach changed with the words write-off.

Instead of getting the maximum support which would have covered every thing and everyone his suport was dropped to 1 airfare home and you take care of your non-covered accessories etc.


About a year or so ago I related how we had to recover a Yacht from Marree after the owner stuffed his Merc getting up Big Red and in this case the total care insurer would
only ship the car home because with the boat the total combo was over length.

So I guess the above probably means we should be careful what we say in the high stress situation following an incident unless we know the rules very well.

Have you said to much after a bad road incident ?
Robin Miller

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Reply By: landseka - Monday, Oct 14, 2013 at 10:34

Monday, Oct 14, 2013 at 10:34
Hi Robin, I would have said the same as your friend in the circumstances as I, coming from a working life as a towie, know that Total Care, Roadside Assistance call it whatever your manufacturer calls it will only cover you for vehicle breakdown. In the event of a crash they will help you arrange towage, give phone numbers etc but they will firmly handball the recovery and assessing to your insurance company.

In the instance you mention it mattered not that he quoted "write-off", just saying he crashed was enough to back out of responsibility.

It is exactly the same for anyone covered by RAC, RACV, NRMA etc even on top cover if you have a crash don't bother calling them, contact your insurance company.

Cheers Neil.
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Follow Up By: Robin Miller - Monday, Oct 14, 2013 at 14:20

Monday, Oct 14, 2013 at 14:20
Yes Neil he was just trying to be helpful without thinking thru what may have been personnaly best.

Like many of us he had both car insured and total care and probably thought that somehow he would be helped out to the maximum but really the 2 polices are independant as you say.

Often in country areas there is just one contractor that serves as an agent to recover a car whether its an accident or mechanical failure.

I wonder if it is an advantage to have all polices with the one supplier who might act as a one stop shop and save a lot of overheads both for the crashie and the company.
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Reply By: The Landy - Monday, Oct 14, 2013 at 12:53

Monday, Oct 14, 2013 at 12:53
It isn't that one needs to be careful about what you say, but it is about understanding precisely what your insurer, whether it be comprehensive vehicle insurance, manufacturer’s warranty insurance or total care support (presumably roadside breakdown) is covering you for and what the terms and conditions are that you have agreed to.

In general, they all play a different role in the insurance mix, but some of the benefits may overlap in certain areas.

Not having the full facts in this instance makes it hard to make a precise assessment, so commenting generally, some roadside assistance programs do provide additional benefits when there has been an accident.

Noting, that insurers don’t get to pick and choose what assistance they provide in the event of a breakdown, or accident, it is either covered, or it isn’t.

Your friend needs to review the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) associated with the cover and check to see what is covered and what isn’t and then refer back to the provider if there is a dispute as to the service the was offered at the time.

Non-covered accessories are always contentious, I advise my insurer of all items fixed to the vehicle, and I assign a nominal value if I am not seeking insurance cover on them.

And on total length of vehicles and trailers, it is almost certain that all roadside assistance providers will have limitations on size and weight. Accessing the service for both tow vehicle and trailer, or caravan will be limited to these restrictions normally, so it is important to ensure you meet the restrictions when entering into the policy, otherwise you might find yourself in the same situation as the “Merc”.


Often insurers’ get a “bad wrap” for not proving a service that was "assumed" they were, which highlights the importance of understanding what a policy covers and what it doesn't

Policies are legally binding, it is important to read exactly what it offers, and determine its suitability to your requirements.


Above all else I hope they were all safe and uninjured...
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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Monday, Oct 14, 2013 at 14:46

Monday, Oct 14, 2013 at 14:46
Without knowing the facts of the case that Robin outlined, I tend to agree.

People change insurance companies on the belief that they are saving $100, $200 per year or so without realising that the different insurance companies offer different levels of cover.

I am often tempted to change insurers from my current one. but I did a lot of homework with my current insurer wrt to cover that's important to me and they now have a good history with me.

It is possible that the insurance company would have never cover the situation to the poor guys expectation. Whjo would know without rading the full PDS
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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Monday, Oct 14, 2013 at 14:47

Monday, Oct 14, 2013 at 14:47
Who would know without reading the full PDS
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Follow Up By: get outmore - Monday, Oct 14, 2013 at 16:32

Monday, Oct 14, 2013 at 16:32
Dont forget if youve listed items covered or not then your insurance company has the right to them in the event of a write off.
For instance if you've listed roof racks. A warn winch and a codan hf radio. You could be dealing with insurance fraud if you and your mate remove them from the write off while waiting for the truck
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Follow Up By: Member - Bentaxle - Monday, Oct 14, 2013 at 18:16

Monday, Oct 14, 2013 at 18:16
I've just been down this path, following a multiple roll-over and subsequent write off of vehicle. You can remove any items listed or not UNTIL the insurance assessor has inspected the vehicle and made his decision, you can still remove items after that with permission of the insurance company.
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Follow Up By: Robin Miller - Monday, Oct 14, 2013 at 18:32

Monday, Oct 14, 2013 at 18:32
Hi Guys

As you say landy its important to understand the contract but most of us don't espically this finer point which isn't at all clear.

After it wasn't total care and became an insurance issue well apparently a car gets treated differently depending on wether its a write off or not .

A non-write off doesn't have to be looked after with the care of a car that will be repaired and this includes the winch it up onto a flat bed
and even less care or its later storage - I'm told this sort of thing isn't in contracts but sort of industry practise.

Maybe someone else knows more about this - apparently also some personnal things change, and I think legal ownershipto ?

Anyway it seems that helping to have it made a write off earlier than need be was the cause of the problems which the ex-owner wishes he appreciated more upfront.


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Follow Up By: The Landy - Monday, Oct 14, 2013 at 18:45

Monday, Oct 14, 2013 at 18:45
Get out more

Unfortunately insurance fraud cost us all; fortunately the number of dishonest people who commit it is relatively low compared to the number of people who use insurance products.

On accessories and modifications, it is important to list them with the insurer, as even some accessories may be considered a modification to the vehicle.

The items you mentioned are accessories that will retain a higher value. In the case of a HF Radio, I have one listed on my policy and it contributes to the “agreed value” the vehicle is insured for. Bearing in mind, whatever value you assign will be discounted by the insurer on an annual basis.

The items that I list but assign little or no value to from an insurance perspective are things like higher end shock absorbers and other mechanical type gear. Whether you run the high-end, high price units or modest low-end ones it is of little relevance to the insurer from a valuation perspective because they are a mechanical part and all vehicles need shock absorbers. The same could be said about many other accessories and modifications. At best, they may make an allowance for the cost difference between the original and the replacement.

It is an interesting and complex topic as the cost to value equation of many accessories and modifications is not linear.

For example, I have a brand new engine fitted to my Landrover Defender 130, and whilst my insurer has given some consideration towards that, it is still nominal versus the price I paid. The reason is simple, it needs an engine!

In a no fault claim, my insurer will have a lot of trouble arguing they should be paid a higher price than the average value of a 1995 Landrover Defender 130 from the other insurance company involved, and that means my insurer will have the cost of paying out a higher agreed value than the market value. And this is the reason that, at times, it is difficult and more expensive to insure vehicles for higher agreed valuations than the second-hand vehicle market would indicate it should be.

Cheers…
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Follow Up By: The Landy - Monday, Oct 14, 2013 at 19:07

Monday, Oct 14, 2013 at 19:07
I’m not sure that makes entire sense Robin, but not inclined to pass much more comment without knowing full facts.

But generally, the write-off of a vehicle will be at the insurer’s discretion, if the accident had recently occurred, and no claim had been made at that stage (your post reads as though the accident had just occurred) than how could it be assessed as a write-off by the side of the road.

The obligation of the insured is to ensure the vehicle is secured as best I can be under the circumstances presented.

As mentioned, insurance companies don’t get to pick and choose how they will respond – it all comes down to the obligations all parties have agreed to.

It may still be possible for your friend to make claims under a Total Care Policy; for example, the RACV version has provision for the payment of up to around $2,500 in expenses, including accommodation and alternative travel in the case of an accident, under certain conditions. Perhaps that could be explored? Insuranc e policies are not mutually exclusive, a claim under one may not prevent a claim under another for expenses.

I suspect there would be far fewer complaints about insurance companies if as much research went into the insurance cover that does vehicle choice.

For most people it is a big investment (cost), all I can say is people take the time to understand what you are covered for, and your obligations, and also the obligations of the insurance company, after all insurance is based on mutual understanding, and agreement by all parties…
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Follow Up By: Robin Miller - Monday, Oct 14, 2013 at 19:25

Monday, Oct 14, 2013 at 19:25
Hi Landy

That was the key point which caused the issue - I.E. it was accepted via phone calls as a write off quite soon based on advice of a driver who was experienced in these matters before anyone from company phyiscally saw it.






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Follow Up By: mikehzz - Monday, Oct 14, 2013 at 19:43

Monday, Oct 14, 2013 at 19:43
I had a car that was written off and they paid me out less the value of the car to a wreckers. They didn't keep the car and accessories, I had to find a wrecker that would give me what the insurance company quoted. I suppose it depends on the company?
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Follow Up By: The Landy - Tuesday, Oct 15, 2013 at 08:12

Tuesday, Oct 15, 2013 at 08:12
Thanks Robin

It seems out of the ordinary that an insurance company would write-off a vehicle on the basis that the insured has told them it is a write-off, regardless of the insured’s qualifications. In fact, under State Legislation, in New South Wales for example, the process of being determined as a person qualified to assess a vehicle as a write-off is quite descriptive, and involves undertaking an accredited training course. The reason being is that it has implications for the written off vehicles register.

If it has transpired as you describe, and I’m not questioning that, than there is grounds to probably put to question the way the insurance company has responded.

Mind you, I suspect if you named the insurance company, they’ll get another hundred calls today from people trying to do the same.

Putting that aside though, if your friend isn’t happy with how it all transpired he has the option of discussing with the company, and beyond that the insurance ombudsman, after all he is entitled to, but necessarily anymore, what the policy PDS says he is entitled to.

Perhaps I’ve missed something, but it all appears odd and happy to learn more about the process as it is something that could be critical and have implications for all of us...
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Follow Up By: Robin Miller - Tuesday, Oct 15, 2013 at 16:03

Tuesday, Oct 15, 2013 at 16:03
I'm sure your right there Landy , but another interesting side to this was that while they could have got more immediate benefits they were a long way from anywhere 3000km from home and the write off pay out was a bargain from owners point of view - everybody went back to Cairns and they had an enforced holiday as 2nd Prado in the group suffered water damage thru the starter and apparently they had a good time while in got fixed as it was a total-care fix and all in all the holiday didn't go to bad and with no injuries it has become one big adventure story.
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Reply By: Shaker - Monday, Oct 14, 2013 at 16:42

Monday, Oct 14, 2013 at 16:42
What would be the point in keeping your mouth shut?
They aren't going to arrive at a written off vehicle & think its a flat battery!

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Follow Up By: Robin Miller - Monday, Oct 14, 2013 at 20:02

Monday, Oct 14, 2013 at 20:02
I don't think there was anything in this about deceiving anyone Shaker.

But apparently even legal ownership can change once write off status is accepted. (Voice mail I understand ?)

If its a write-off out in the bush, now belonging to an insurance company, then unless its in the way or whatever ,
then no reason for anyone to hurry out there and it goes to the bottom of the work load pile.

I understand here that car was just left and now ex-owner never saw it again.
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Follow Up By: Shaker - Monday, Oct 14, 2013 at 21:32

Monday, Oct 14, 2013 at 21:32
I didn't mention the word deceit!
the wording of my post was a little tongue in cheek.
I couldn't understand why he called Total care which is an extension of his road service agreement, when it was clearly an insurance issue.

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Reply By: Ron N - Monday, Oct 14, 2013 at 21:12

Monday, Oct 14, 2013 at 21:12
After having been in business all my working life (46 yrs) and having to deal with insurance companies on a regular basis, and having had to claim everything from multiple MV claims, through multiple theft claims, through to house fire claims - as well as public liability claims - I can tell you this much.

1. The instant you get on the blower to the insurance company to report an "insurance event", everything you say is recorded. Therefore, recognise this and say no more than the minimum required.

2. The number of people who never read their insurance PDS is mind-boggling. Read your PDS thoroughly and carefully, and understand the T's & C's.

3. The crucial word in insurance is INDEMNIFY. This word means to be no better off, nor any worse off, financially, after the insured event. If you feel you're going to end up worse off, you need to argue on a different tack that you require increased or different compensation.

For example - you lose your Prado in a write-off. Your insurance company offers you $35,000 for it - but you reckon it will cost you $40,000 to get into a similar vehicle, with similar kms and in similar condition.
You can argue that instead of $35,000 payout, you prefer to be supplied with a Prado identical to the one written off. The company has no choice but to do as you request. They will often raise the payout figure when they realise they can't acquire a repalcement vehicle for that figure.

4. All insurance companies are out to keep payouts to a minimum. Some are a lot worse than others to deal with. Some will give you a right run-around, others will pay up only after protracted negotiation. A few are just plain excellent to deal with.

All insurance agreements are based on "good faith". This mean that the insurance company has accepted that what you have told them is the true situation - and that you have accepted that they will fully indemnify you (in line with their T's & C's) in any loss.

Some things can never be proven to exist, particularly after a fire. This is where a good company will accept your word about what was lost, and a bad company will contest it.

All insured items, particularly vehicles are subject to wear and tear. Some people expect to end up with a better item than what they had before the event - even though they've had substantial use from it. Insurance companies are keen to ensure that doesn't happen.

Insurance companies employ lots of people with good investigation skills, to investigate all claims - and they will operate like police detectives to further investigate any claim that has a whiff of fraud about it.
There are "indicators" in dodgy claims to them, that scream fraud - when an average person wouldn't pick that up.

Be honest and up front at all times when speaking to insurance companies, without compromising your position, by giving them unneccessary information that may give them ideas that a lower payout is warranted.
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Follow Up By: Robin Miller - Monday, Oct 14, 2013 at 21:48

Monday, Oct 14, 2013 at 21:48
Thanks Ron , sounds like good advice to me.

One thing I have seen that you mention is just how skilled investigators can be and just how subtle the clues may be that are picked up by those knowing their job.
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Reply By: freedomseeka - Tuesday, Oct 15, 2013 at 08:49

Tuesday, Oct 15, 2013 at 08:49
I had a situation with a car I had that melted a coil leed. The leed itself was on fire and because I am mechanically minded I noticed the problem quite quickly, pulled over , stopped the car and using a water bottle, doused the fire (the rubber on the leed was on fire - very small fire and no other damage.
I called the NRMA road service for a tow truck to get the car to my mechanic. They asked me what was wrong and so I said that a coil leed had melted causing a small fire and the car had stopped. Instantly they heard the word fire and said the same thing - call your insurance company.
Very frustrating when you seem to fall into a gap in some peoples understanding.
Everyone including my mechanic said I should have pulled over and let it burn to the ground which is how I felt after getting the run around and then paying out of my own pocket for a tow truck when I am in the top cover for roadside assistance.
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Follow Up By: landseka - Tuesday, Oct 15, 2013 at 11:33

Tuesday, Oct 15, 2013 at 11:33
This is probably more a case of "...should have kept my mouth shut".

Had you just said "car won't go, dunno what's wrong" NRMA would have sent a mechanic (or towtruck) to see what was wrong and either fixed it or taken it to where it could get fixed.

Cheers Neil
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Follow Up By: The Landy - Tuesday, Oct 15, 2013 at 14:27

Tuesday, Oct 15, 2013 at 14:27
The NRMA is fairly explicit in its terms and conditions on what it won’t cover...

“A Vehicle that has suffered damage as a result of an Accident, Flood, theft, Fire or
malicious damage”

And I suspect most of the roadside breakdown service providers will be the same. These events listed are insurance events, not classed as breakdowns.
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Follow Up By: freedomseeka - Tuesday, Oct 15, 2013 at 15:08

Tuesday, Oct 15, 2013 at 15:08
I guess that's what I am saying though. There was no damage other than a melted leed.

Exactly as Landseka said, I should have not mentioned "small fire" and it would have been all sweet.

It would have been interesting to see if they would have provide Roadside service after the NRMA service tech had seen the issue.

Cheers, Shane

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Follow Up By: Member - Scott M (NSW) - Tuesday, Oct 15, 2013 at 15:40

Tuesday, Oct 15, 2013 at 15:40
I wonder rather than saying " a coil leed (sic) had melted causing a small fire" you'd said "I think I've got a short in a wire" whether it would've made any difference :-)

Just curious.....
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