I’ve heard this a few times recently: people come to us after they’ve been injured in a car accident. They spoke to the other driver after the crash, and exchanged contact details – but when they asked for the insurance details, the other driver said they didn’t have any!
Firstly, lots of people get confused about what insurance we need to know about to make a claim. For property damage (like the repairs to your car), you want comprehensive car insurance. You can make the claim through your own insurance. If you contact your own insurance, they will probably get in touch with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, or pursue the driver for the debt if they weren’t insured. Comprehensive car insurance is optional but normally a good idea to have because if you don’t have it, you could find yourself being pursued for a few thousand dollars of damage after a crash.
Injuries are different. When we make a claim for personal injuries, we’re actually making the claim against the compulsory third party insurance (CTP). This is the insurance that you are legally required to have – most people in the ACT are required to purchase CTP when they renew their car registration. Many people completely forget they have it, or which company it’s with!
Because it’s legally required, the only time people really don’t have it is when they were driving an unregistered car.
As a last resort, if there’s no insurance company, we make the claim against the Nominal Defendant, which was set up for exactly this problem. The Nominal Defendant is funded by levies on CTP insurance premiums, and takes the place of an insurance company where there isn’t one. They’ll run or settle a personal injury claim just like any insurance company, but then they’ll pursue the driver who was uninsured for the costs – after all, it’s illegal not to have CTP insurance!
The main difference between an insurance company and the nominal defendant is that we have less time to put a claim in. So, if the driver says they don’t have insurance, it’s best to get in touch with us as soon as possible. All we need is the licence plate number, and we’ll be able to tell you if there’s an insurance company or if we have to claim with the Nominal Defendant.
– Ellen Teys