Whether you like it or not, you’ve got to buy car insurance to take your car on the road in Singapore and this is obviously for good reason. It only takes a mildly rainy day here to see accidents occurring all over the island. Whether you have chosen a policy from Aviva, FWD or the ever popular NTUC Car Insurance, knowing what to do if you were to get into an accident can make a difference to whether your car insurance claim is successful.
If you’ve been a sensible driver, you might have been able to get away with proudly earning your car insurance policy’s No Claim Discount (NCD) year after year.
Until the unfortunate happens, and that Ah Beng’s Subaru Impreza rear ends you because he was driving like some Initial D character. So what do you do? Wait till you hear the sound of helicopters overhead courtesy of your car insurer? Not exactly. If you want your insurer to pay you, you’ll need to take steps to make a car insurance claim.
Sometimes, accidents might not involve another party, and it might just be a case of you being a blur c… ok you get what we mean. There’s a different set of considerations there because making a car insurance claim will jeopardise your NCD. We look at these two different scenarios here and what you should do.
In the first scenario, you have the option of getting your insurance company to claim against the insurance company of the person who banged into you. This is a discussion you need to have with the person after the accident happens and you have every right to decide because you are the victim. We’ll get to that a bit later but here’s what you need to do when the accident happens:
Submit Claim Report within 24 hours of the accident
Don’t exchange WhatsApp numbers with the other driver and spend days chatting before deciding to make an insurance claim.
Many insurers require that you contact them within a certain timeframe, usually 24 hours. So don’t beat around the bush, or you may find your self outside of the max duration of time allowable for your accident to be reported and the claim processed.
Take Damage and Accident Scene Photos
You love to take selfies on regular days. Put that photo-taking fervour to good use by taking detailed photos of the scene of the accident and any vehicles involved. Pay attention to the angles of the photos you take and ensure that you get sufficient photographic footage of the scene and context of the accident. One useful rule to borrow from professional photographers is to document an event or subject with at least 3 shots
- A Tight Shot – this refers to zooming in to details such as damaged areas, dents and scratches on both YOUR car and the other party’s car.
- A Medium Shot – which is zooming out alittle and capturing more of the environment and context of the accident. A medium shot could for example, show both cars at the accident scene.
- A Wide Shot – this is the most zoomed out shot and serves to give the viewer a sense of the area around the accident occured and perhaps the road and weather conditions on that day.
The licence plates of all vehicles involved are also worth taking. You will need to submit these photos to your insurer as proof of what happened.
By the way, if you’ve got one of those dashboard cameras, all the better (and if you don’t, consider investing in one). One video that shows whose fault the accident was can be more useful than a dozen photos no matter what the angle.
|Photos You Should Take At The Scene||No. Of Photos|
|Impact area and any damages visible||Take at least 3 to 4 close and medium range pictures of all visible damages. Do this for all cars involved in the accident|
|License plates of the cars involved||Just one of every car involved will suffice|
|The accident spot and its surrounding area||Take 3 to 4 photos that would help an investigator gain some context around how the accident happened and where.|
|Conditions of the traffic at that time and / or road conditions ie Rainy and wet||Take 2 to 3 photos that will help inform investigators on the conditions faced on the day of the accident|
Get the other driver’s contact details
Unless you crashed all by yourself and nobody else was affected, there’s going to be at least one other driver involved.
And it’s important that you take down the other driver’s contact details, including at the very least
- Driver names of all involved
- NRIC numbers
- Address of driver / drivers
- Car insurance company of vehicles involved
- Contact numbers.
You will need the other driver’s contact details if you wish to make a claim against him. If your insurer can prove that the accident was his fault, they will make a claim against his insurer, and you will not lose your No Claim Discount.
Don’t move the vehicle unless you have to
Leave your vehicle where it is unless you absolutely have to move it. If you move your car more than necessary, you’re giving your/the other driver’s insurance company a chance to dispute your claim. But please don’t go and drive home before you’ve contacted your insurer.
Of course, if your car gets hit in the middle of the road and needs to be moved to the road shoulder for safety reasons, by all means move it to safety.
Report the accident to your insurer
Look at the numbers you have on your speed dial. Other than your mum, your boss, your hairdresser, your bookie, etc, you should also have the number of Etiqa, MSIG, DirectAsia, or whoever your car insurer is.
Different insurers will have different methods of making a claim. Call your insurer’s 24-hour hotline at the scene of the accident to ask what you should do.
For instance, many insurance companies (eg. NTUC Income, AIG, Aviva) expect you to use only tow trucks belonging to their or a partner company. Accepting any other tow service might have complications for your claim.
By the end of the next working day, you must also make a report in person at your insurance company’s reporting centre. The customer service staff will help you submit the forms you need, so don’t forget to bring along all your evidence, like photos and contact details of the other driver.
Get your car fixed at an authorised workshop
While car insurers are no longer allowed to invalidate your claim if you use an unauthorised workshop, going to one can still complicate issues if they screw up the repairs and lead the insurer to believe that they’ve caused the damage.
So it’s still safer to visit an authorised workshop for repairs. If you’re not sure which workshops are authorised, call the insurer for addresses. The workshop should be able to provide you with all the necessary paperwork to submit with your claim.
In some cases, it is worth noting that using a non-authorised workshop even if you are allowed to by your insurer may increase the time it takes for the assessments to be done and, ultimately, affect when you get your car back in working condition. This is due to the insurer having to arrange for surveyors to head down to the non-authorised workshop to assess the damages and suggested repairs.
A list of the suggested repairs has to also be submitted back to the surveyor for approval before work can even begin and this takes time.
What happens if you got into an accident on your own?
This could happen to the best of us. A momentary lapse in concentration, or being silly and getting distracted by your mobile phone while driving, and next thing you know, your car has a new paint job.
If it’s a minor scratch, that’s the least of your worries. If you’re missing your left headlight as well as bits of the left side of your car, that’s a different issue altogether. This is when you need to make a decision:
Determine whether making a car insurance claim is worth the loss of your No Claim Discount (NCD)
Before you call up your insurer crying, make sure you want to make this claim in the first place. If your No Claim Discount is big enough, it might not be worth making a claim in the first place, since you’ll end up paying bigger premiums next year.
So do the math by comparing your NCD to the cost of damage. If all you got was a scratch or a cracked side mirror, it’s probably not worthwhile losing your NCD for this.
Now this is a tricky thing, and is best explained in a scenario:
Mr Tan has just gotten into an accident in his condo carpark. Underestimating a turn, he dented the entire left side of his car going up the carpark ramp. Sound familiar? Don’t pretend lah. Anyway, now that your beautiful car and your feelings are hurt, you need to get that fixed.
If your car can be driven still, get it to a workshop for an assessment as quickly as you can:
- If the repair assessment given states that your repairs will be less than the insurance excess you have to pay = Do not claim
- If the repair assessment given states that your repairs will cost more than your excess = By how much more is it above your excess?
Making a claim means Mr Tan loses his NCD (unless of course he has an NCD protector built into his policy) and this automatically means his premiums will increase for the following year. By how much you ask? The increase in car insurance premium for the following year cannot be accurately determined but it typically involves:
Mr Tan’s base premium of $2,000. With a 50% NCD, he pays $1000 in premiums. If he does make a claim, he loses 30% of the NCD and it is reduced to 20%. Insurers might add on a loading fee if the claims for your accident are high enough. There are many determining factors to this, but for the case of this example, let’s assume a 10% loading fee, which is basically an addition to your next year’s car insurance premium.
|Factors to Car Insurance Premium Increase||Cost
(Numbers are fictional)
|Current base premium||$2,000|
|Loading fee due to accident at 10%||$200|
|Next year’s car insurance premium with 20% NCD||$1,760 ($2,200 x 0.8)|
|How much more he pays next year if he makes a claim||$1,760 – $1,000 = $760|
If Mr Tan determines he will approximately pay $760 more on his premiums the following year if he makes a claim. Are the repair costs lower than this amount? If so, it’s not worth losing your NCD just to make a claim. This applies regardless of what your NCD is, and you should do the basic sums first.
Find out how this will affect your premiums
As mentioned, not only will you lose a 30% discount, but your insurer might add on loading fees that will cause your base premium to go up. You can speak to your insurer and ask how much your premiums will go up next year.
In the event that your premiums will increase significantly, it might mean that it’s time to shop around for a new car insurance policy. While your accident is going to raise your premiums across all insurers, it’s likely you’ll be able to find one that’s cheaper than what you’re currently about to be charged.
Have you ever made a car insurance claim in Singapore? Share your experiences in the comments!
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Tags: Car Insurance