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Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance
Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance

Driver loses claim stoush over crash minutes before cover onset

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A man who lodged a claim after a collision on the same day he bought a Hollard motor insurance policy online has lost a claim dispute.

The accident occurred at 9.05-9.10pm on March 5 last year, a police crash summary report stated, and was reported to police at 9.11pm that evening.

A welcome letter and policy schedule generated by Hollard’s online system clearly stated “your comprehensive insurance starts at 9:34pm”. The certificate of insurance also identified the ‘Period of Insurance’ as being from 9:34pm on the day of the accident.

Hollard denied the claim, saying there was no policy in force at the time of loss. It suggested the man took out his insurance policy after the accident.

The driver argued he could not have organised the policy after the crash as he suffered a severe concussion, though the police report indicated no-one was injured in the incident, and officers later confirmed the matter was the subject of an ongoing investigation.

The driver insisted Hollard’s online system incorrectly recorded the time the policy was incepted, but no evidence was provided of any mistake by the insurer, or any technical or other issue which might have led to incorrect information being recorded.

The man maintained he took the policy out before the accident happened and suggested he had various difficulties with Hollard and several unsuccessful attempts at setting up policies for the vehicle.

The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) determined there was no insurance contract in place at the time of loss as Hollard’s online application records clearly confirmed the policy was taken out at 9.34pm.

“That is about 24 minutes after the accident is recorded by the police as having occurred. I am satisfied … the accident and claimed loss occurred before the policy was taken out,” AFCA’s ombudsman said.

“It would not be fair to require the insurer to cover a loss which did not arise during the period of insurance.”

AFCA also declined to award compensation for non-financial loss, saying “the available evidence does not show it did anything wrong, or otherwise acted unreasonably”.

Hollard’s record of the claim being lodged indicated the man reported the accident as having happened at 9.45pm, and he subsequently repeated that to its claims department during a telephone call.

However, the transcript of an interview with a Hollard investigator in July last year recorded that the man agreed the time of the accident was 9.10pm, or 24 minutes before the policy incepted.

AFCA ruled there was no insurance contract in place at the time of loss.

“The available evidence does not show the accident happened during the period of insurance. The insurer was therefore not on risk when the loss occurred, and so is not liable for the damage to the vehicle,” AFCA said.

“The available evidence does not establish the insurer acted unfairly or unreasonably in its handling of the claim, and so compensation for non-financial loss is not warranted.”

See the full ruling here.