Be aware of hire car scams after a not-at-fault car accident
When a not-at-fault accident happens and your car needs repairs, the insurer of the at-fault driver will generally provide a replacement vehicle at no cost to you. This can help you get around while they start the process of repairing your vehicle.
The thing is, scammers may attempt to get involved in the claims process, either approaching you themselves or deceptively using paid ads to appear affiliated with an insurer in search results.
This can result in you being provided a hire car, while your car is taken “for repairs”. Your car may then be sent to an unauthorised repairer or held in storage, which can often result in you having to pay the extra costs yourself.
What to do after a collision
Take time to breathe, stay calm, and rationally assess the situation. Check if anyone involved needs medical attention – if they do, call 000 for help straight away. If it’s safe to do so, move your car off the road and turn on your hazard lights. If it’s unsafe and the road becomes blocked, call the police for help.
Cooperate with the people involved, and focus on simply exchanging details and taking photographs of the damage. Don’t try to talk about what happened or who might be to blame - this may lead to heated disputes and increased stress levels.
After details have been exchanged, contact your insurer. That way, all the relevant info will be fresh in your mind, which makes it easier to file a claim. If you’re insured with AAMI, you can make a claim in moments.
Not-at-fault car hire
If you’re insured with AAMI and your car cannot be safely driven following a covered incident where you weren’t at fault, we’ll arrange and pay reasonable hire car costs using our trusted hire car providers to meet your transport needs until your car is repaired and returned, or your claim is settled. All you need to do is provide the at-fault driver’s:
- address, and
- vehicle's registration number.
This is part of our standard comprehensive car insurance, and you can read all the terms and conditions in the PDS – which you should do, by the way.
Beware of hire car scams
Accidents can be stressful, and opportunistic third parties often try to take advantage of shaken drivers. There are reports of motorists being approached by someone they thought represented an at-fault driver’s insurer shortly after an incident. Often, though, the person is not from the insurer – instead, they’re part of a network involving tow truck drivers, repairers, claims management companies, vehicle hire companies, and lawyers1.
Those motorists are being misled into thinking they’re dealing with a reputable insurer, and are asked to sign an ‘Authority to Act’ or Car Hire Rental Agreement on a tablet. They’re told repairs will be taken care of, and are given a “free” replacement vehicle. Their damaged vehicle is then taken away and the motorist is left with no idea where it’s going, or how long repairs may take.
Motorists may find themselves having to cover those extra costs out of their own pocket, often at inflated rates.
Ad spoofing on search engines
Internet scams often involve strategically placed ads at the top of search engine pages. Unsuspecting accident victims type in words like “AAMI Claims” or “AAMI contact”, then click on the ad thinking it will provide details of their insurer – when it’s actually a separate claims management company with no connection to the insurer.
Deceptive language is commonly used to gain caller confidence. People conned by these operators say they thought they were talking to their insurer or the at-fault driver’s insurer.
The company says they will manage the insurance claim as well as organise towing, hire car and vehicle repairs. The scam may lead to:
- vehicles being taken and impounded
- substandard car repairs with no choice of repairer
- claims delayed or declined
- personal details shared with unrelated organisations
- charges for activities that would be managed at no or reduced cost by an insurer, and
- involvement in legal proceedings to recover costs.
If the motorist subsequently refuses to cooperate, they can become liable for the exorbitant repair, hire car costs and legal charges.
How to avoid being scammed
- Be vigilant. A legitimate insurer web address will always contain the insurer’s name.
- Check your policy documents for claims contact details and call your insurer directly.
- Verify who you are speaking to when lodging a claim or when contacted after an accident. Make sure you are speaking to the insurer and ask for your policy number or a claim number.
- If you inadvertently use one of these operators, they may send a representative to your address. Don’t sign any documents, including a hire car contract on an electronic device like a tablet. Signatures have been duplicated by scammers and used on many unrelated documents. Make sure you get complete copies of all documents you sign.
- Immediately contact the insurer if you find out you have been misled into believing that an insurer had organised your vehicle repairs and hire car service.
Here’s the key takeaway: Make sure you know who you are dealing with, read any documents you are asked to sign very carefully and ask for a copy. Always contact the insurer directly and confirm they are actually an insurance company.
- What to do in a minor car accident
- What kind of car insurance do I need?
- What happens when you're in a car accident and not at fault?
Insurance issued by AAI Limited ABN 48 005 297 807 trading as AAMI. Any advice has been prepared without taking into account your particular objectives, financial situation or needs, so you should consider whether it is appropriate for you before acting on it. Read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement before buying this insurance. The Target Market Determination is also available.
The information is intended to be of general nature only. Subject to any rights you may have under any law, we do not accept any legal responsibility for any loss or damage, including loss of business or profits or any other indirect loss, incurred as a result of reliance upon the information. Please make your own enquiries.