My car went bang (going through an insurance claim process)

For those of you reading that that have found themselves in a auto bingle (your fault of the other persons) and followed your insurance claim process from start to end, then you’ll know the process fairly well. For those like me who have had a few scrapes (and near misses) but never had to put an insurance claim before up until now – welcome to my journey. In which I’ve learnt one thing in particular that will could take a bit of hassle out of the process if you find yourself in a similar situation…

It started at a roundabout..

A big roundabout too in Cararra on the Gold Coast. Heading home for the day I had just entered it when a Jeep Grand Cherokee went BANG right into the back of my Nissan Stagea, which up until now hasn’t (too my knowledge, I have no idea what happened to any previous owners) been in an accident. My car got pushed forward, my gear selector slipped down into Neutral (I found that out quickly when trying to drive off) and when we pulled over to swap details I found out the handy hatch wasn’t so handy anymore now being impossible to open.

No injuries to me apart from that horrifying shock that you’ve just been in an accident so it could have been much worse. Buckled hatch, gouges in the rear bar and a cracked tail light.

Stagea insurance claim process

How’d the Jeep fare though? Well there were two tiny scratches on the nudge bar…and that’s it.

‘So sorry mate, I really wasn’t looking.’

Well at least he was honest when we stepped out of the cars to have a look at the damage. Jeep 1, Stagea 0. ‘What do we need to swap?’ I fished out some paper and eventually a pen from my car and got his name, phone number and license plate and gave him the same for my car. We took pictures of each others cars for the claim and then drove off.

What I didn’t realize until the next day was that there was one vital part I needed to ask for: his address. I’ll explain why in a sec.

‘Are you okay?’

My wife went into full on nurse mode as soon as I told the tale but aside from being slightly angry at the whole thing (which is completely natural when you think of the inconvenience of having to make an insurance claim on account of someone who wasn’t looking where they were driving) I was okay. I had dinner, put the kids to bed with a couple of books and then jumped online to see what I had to do next.

Thankfully Shannons Insurance has an online claim form where you submit what details you have, any pics you’ve taken (make sure you take many) and then fill in what happened and how your car fared. ‘not at fault accident’ box ticked and I sent it off, waiting for a call back the next day.

‘We have your claim form here..’

There were a few questions about what happened, where I was, who was at fault and the damage done (even though it was all clearly stated in the online form but I guess they like to see if your story changes overnight..) and then ‘Do you have the person’s address?’

‘No just the details I provided through so far. I didn’t know I needed it on top of name and car rego number.’

‘We can’t wave your excess fee without it which means you will have to pay and as soon as we update this claim with their address, you’ll get a full refund. That will be $600 – how would you like to pay today?’

Ouch. $600 for something that wasn’t my fault. Full refund incoming or not, that’s still not a great feeling.

Make sure you grab their address. While I did get it (just sent a text and the next day there it was) and organised my refund (they’ve called me twice to confirm my bank details so they really are covering everything) I know for next time that you need

  1. Name
  2. Address
  3. Rego
  4. (License details would probably be a good idea too. Grab as much detail as you car, regardless of how rough you feel straight after.)

Two out of three or less will not cover the holy trinity of things you need for a full claim that wasn’t your fault. As soon as I called them and updated the claim with those last details, everything kicked into motion. My refund was organised, a hire car was organised (without their address I could hire a car myself and invoice them later..) and next thing I know I was waiting in a panel beaters waiting room..

‘I’ve never seen one of those before..’

Not common in these parts..

The very helpful receptionist at the panel beaters revealed as we walked out to survey the damage, which happens a lot when you drive something imported from Japan. ‘You know those Skyline’s getting around? This is the wagon version for people who need to carry half of Bunnings home. Of course this backfired spectacularly when the shop assessor took one look at it and explained ‘Yeah we don’t work on imports. But not to worry, we know someone who does.’

(Why did the insurance company send me there then? They clearly know mine came from the land of the rising sun..)

‘They’re just not as quick as we are unfortunately’ the receptionist added. Oh well, at least it was getting fixed. They uberred me back to work, a flatbed truck picked up the War Wagon later that afternoon and a text message arrived saying that it had arrived at the other panel shop safely.

(A shout out to them too – they were incredibly helpful in this insurance claim process, I got a complimentary coffee from them upon arrival and had a lovely chat to the team while waiting for my Uber ride.)

Insurance claim being processed. Money returning back to my account, car in the shop and Helena in my driveway. Now we wait.

Helena is a Hyundai Accent Sport organised by the insurance company while the wagon gets a new hatch (or a hatch rebuild, I have no idea the process here – I can only assume they pry out the old one and find a suitable replacement.) As cars go it’s not the most exciting thing on the road currently and I have managed to walk past it three times before realizing I’d walked too far and had to turn it around to find it again. But its quiet, economical and not slowly dripping power steering fluid in my garage.

Helena the hire Hyundai
Helena the hire Hyundai

I’m not used to such luxuries in a vehicle.

While I write this

The panel shop has text me – apparently my car will be ready in three weeks as parts have been ordered (from Japan? Possibly). Luckily I can extend my use of Helena for as long as it’s off the road but it’s the inconvenience of it all.

Next time I grab the address. Make sure you don’t forget to ask them where they live!


On going update

Edit 1: I’ve had to extend the hire car out by another week due to parts taking a while to get here.

Edit 2: I’ve had to extend the hire car out again by other week due to the panel shop running out of time to work on it.

Edit 3: There’s a delay in the paint stage! (Of course there is!) Completion date moved to Wednesday. And then Thursday.

Edit 4: It’s the Thursday and they’ve just rung me to explain they’re still lining up the panels…tomorrow maybe? It’s only been over a month now..

Edit 5: ‘We should have it done by tomorrow and we’ll call you first thing to let you know.’ Day rolls around, no call.

Edit 6: Post weekend. No word on car. I’m currently 10,000 words into writing my new book. I reckon I’ll have it finished and published by the time my car is ready..

Edit 7: A month and a bit later and the mighty War Wagon is back on the road!

They did apologize for the delay across all stages but it’s back, there’s a whole heap of new parts on the back like a fresh set of reverse sensors (and new badges – I figured they would use the old ones but I guess not) and strangely there’s a mechanical noise coming from the hatch when you close it. It took me a while and a google or two to work out what was going on but I was pleasantly surprised that it’s actually the wagon’s auto close function now in working order!

(It’s never worked since I bought this thing 4 years ago!)

Now to avoid all future Jeeps with bull bars anywhere near a large roundabout..

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