Uninsured drivers still paying back debt from 1990s
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Some uninsured drivers who had accidents in the 1990s are still paying back their debt and the value of uninsured claims is rising, according to a major insurer.
AA Insurance said in the year to October 2016 it handled more than $8.5 million of debt from claims involving almost 2800 uninsured drivers who were at fault, a 5 per cent jump on the same period the year before.
Amelia Macandrew, customer relations manager for AA Insurance, said it was not a case of there being more uninsured drivers but repairs costing more.
"In the old days you could just get a second-hand bumper. But the cost of claims are getting more expensive for technical reasons."
Macandrew said AA Insurance only had a few people still paying back debt from accidents in the 1990s but it wanted to highlight the situation to show the lasting effect that racking up a big bill could have.
The warning comes on the back of research by the insurer which found young people are more likely to have accidents and less likely to think insurance cover was important.
AA Insurance's Driver Safety Survey of more than 1000 people found more than 60 per cent of Kiwi drivers had one or more accidents before they turned 30, with those aged 18 to 24 most vulnerable.
But only 66 per cent of 18- to 24-year-olds strongly agreed insurance was important.
"Driving uninsured can have life-changing consequences that far outweigh the cost of a premium," she said.
In one recent case a 22-year-old was left with a $11,000 bill after being found at fault in an accident.
"If you don't have insurance and you are at fault, then you are liable to pay out of your own pocket, not just for the value of the vehicle you drive but for the value of the other vehicle or property you hit."
Macandrew said she believed many young people were put off getting insurance because of the cost or because they didn't believe it was worth it because their car was not worth much.
But she said third-party insurance could cost as little as a coffee per week.
"Many also believe they're good drivers so feel confident they're not at risk," she added.
"Yet no matter how careful you are on the road, you can't control how other drivers behave. So, the question is, if you can't afford insurance can you afford to have an accident?"
Older drivers (91 per cent of those over 60 years old), and those who had been in an accident (85 per cent), were more likely to see the benefit of having insurance compared to the under-30s.
What to do in the event of an accident:
• Check that everybody involved in the collision is okay and call the emergency services if necessary;
•Move the vehicle(s) out of traffic if it's safe to do so;
•Take a picture of the scene with a camera or your phone;
•Make sure you get the other driver's correct registration number, name and contact number or address details. Keep a pen and paper in the car for writing down details;
•Contact your insurer and provide as much information as you can;
•Don't try to settle the claim yourself; leave it to your insurer.