Avoiding car hire scams after a not-at-fault accident

Not At Fault

You may be able to show this by providing: 

  • a police report
  • expert reports 
  • a statement from a witness, or 
  • photographs taken at the scene.

What is a car hire scam?

If you’ve been involved in a not-at-fault accident, the insurer of the at-fault driver may offer you a free, temporary replacement vehicle. That way, you can still get around while they repair your vehicle.

Unfortunately, scammers may attempt to involve themselves in your claims process1 by offering you a “free” hire car that’s not authorised by an insurance company – neither yours nor that of the at-fault driver. If you agree to this, you may have to pay the extra costs yourself - which are often at inflated rates.

What to do after an accident

  • Take a moment to calm down and assess the situation.
  • Check whether anyone is injured. Call 000 for help if needed.
  • Move your car off the road if it is safe to do so.
  • If it isn’t safe and the road is blocked, call the police for help.
  • Cooperate with any other people involved. Don’t try to place blame, as this can increase tensions – focus on exchanging details and photographing the damage.
  • After your details have been exchanged, contact your insurer while the relevant information is fresh in your mind.

If you’re insured with Apia, you can easily make a claim online in moments.

Make a claim

Not-at-fault car hire

If you’re insured with Apia and your car cannot be safely driven or is in for repairs following a covered incident, and it’s clear you weren’t at fault, we’ll arrange and pay the reasonable costs for a hire car from one of our trusted providers until your car is repaired and returned, or your claim is settled. You may need to provide documents and details, such as the at-fault driver’s:

  • name
  • address, and
  • vehicle's registration number.

This is included in our Comprehensive Car Insurance policy. It is also included with Apia Fire, Theft & Third Party Property Damage and Third Party Property Damage Insurance policies, but only when the at-fault driver is uninsured. Read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement for more details on this inclusion.

What to look out for

Accidents can be stressful, and opportunistic third parties can try to take advantage of impacted drivers.

Drivers have been approached by people falsely claiming to represent the at-fault driver’s insurer. They’re instead part of a network of third-party companies, often involving:

  • tow truck drivers
  • repairers
  • claims management companies
  • vehicles hire companies, and
  • lawyers.

Drivers are then:

  • asked to sign an ‘Authority to Act’ or Car Hire Rental Agreement on a digital tablet in person
  • given a “free” hire car, and
  • told that the repairs will be taken care of.

After their vehicle is taken, drivers are left with no idea where it will be kept, or how long repairs may take.

This is where the scam makes money: the "free" hire car is charged to the insurer at an exorbitant rate and your car may be kept in repairs for a prolonged period. If the scammer cannot recover costs from the insurer, the driver may have to pay the usage fees out of their own pocket.

How scammers use search engines

Internet scams often use paid ads that are located at the top of search results. Accident victims type in phrases like “Apia claims” or “Apia contact”, and click the ads containing these terms. Instead of linking to the insurer, these ads can lead to independent claims management companies.

The scammers use deceptive language to make the driver believe they’re talking to their insurer or the insurer of the at-fault driver. 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 driver subsequently refuses to cooperate, they can become liable for the expensive repair, hire car costs and legal charges.

How to avoid being scammed

  • If you’re on a website, ensure it’s a legitimate insurer and matches the details on your policy documents.
  • Verify who you’re speaking to when lodging a claim or when contacted after an incident. Always ask for your policy number or a claim number to refer to later
  • Don’t sign any documents without carefully reading them and receiving a copy. If you discover you have been misled, contact your insurer or that of the at-fault driver.

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.  

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1 Car Hire Scams | 9news.com

Australian Pensioners Insurance Agency Pty Ltd (Apia) ABN 14 099 650 996 AR 239591 is an authorised representative of AAI Limited ABN 48 005 297 807 AFSL 230859 (AAI), the issuer of Home, Landlord, Car, Caravan, Motorhome, Boat, Travel & Compulsory Third Party Personal Injury (CTP) Insurance. Please read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement before you make any decision regarding this product. The Target Market Determination is also available.

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. 

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.

Not At Fault

You may be able to show this by providing: 

  • a police report
  • expert reports 
  • a statement from a witness, or 
  • photographs taken at the scene.