Uninsured vehicles in accidents
There are two types of insurance for vehicles in New South Wales – comprehensive insurance (also known as property damage insurance) and compulsory third party (CTP) insurance.
Comprehensive insurance covers things such as damage repair costs, hire cars/replacement vehicles and a payout for ‘written off’ vehicles based on the value of the vehicle. It does not cover you if you have been injuried.
Comprehensive insurance is optional, and often expensive, and so many road users elect not to bother with it.
Usually, if you are in an accident and the other person tells you that they “don’t have insurance”, what they mean is that they don’t have comprehensive insurance that will pay for your damaged car to be fixed. There’s a good chance they will still have CTP insurance.
On the other hand, compulsory third party insurance is NOT optional. You cannot register a vehicle in New South Wales without first obtaining a CTP “Green Slip” insurance policy. CTP insurance covers you for your injuries but does not cover things such as damage to your vehicle or your property.
Of course, no system is 100% perfect, and even though CTP insurance is compulsory, and NSW police regularly conduct vehicle registration checks, there are still some uninsured vehicles out there on our roads.
What happens if one of these ‘uninsured’ vehicles causes an accident, and I am injured? What do I do if the vehicle has no insurance!?
Even if the vehicle which caused your accident is not insured, do not despair!
The State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA, formerly the Motor Accidents Authority) keeps a small portion of the money collected from all Green Slips in a special fund called the Nominal Defendant Fund, for this very reason.
If you have been injured in a car accident, and the driver of the vehicle involved tells you that they don’t have insurance, you can make a claim against the Nominal Defendant, so long as you can prove that the accident was at least partially the fault of the uninsured vehicle.
Of course, if the driver is lying, or is mistaken about whether the vehicle has insurance, your solicitor at Stacks Goudkamp can easily find out whether the vehicle actually did have insurance. If the vehicle was insured, you can proceed with a claim in the usual way.
Am I at a disadvantage if I claim against the Nominal Defendant instead of against the insurer of a vehicle that actually has insurance?
No. The Nominal Defendant actually selects one of the five CTP insurers in New South Wales (AAMI, Allianz, GIO, NRMA, QBE) at random, and that insurer manages your claim as if the vehicle was insured by them.
The only difference is that the money you receive for your medical treatment and lump sum compensation comes from the Nominal Defendant fund, rather than directly from the insurer managing your claim.
Are there any other circumstances when you can claim against the Nominal Defendant?
Yes. You can also claim against the Nominal Defendant if you are unable to identify the vehicle that caused your accident. This is most often the case in a “hit and run” accident where the driver at fault flees the scene before exchanging details or before anybody can make a note of the registration number.
These claims are incredibly complex and you will need the assistance of a solicitor at Stacks Goudkamp to assist you with your claim as soon after the accident as possible. Delays in these ‘Nominal Defendant claims’ are often costly and can be fatal to your right to claim compensation.
What do I do if I believe I might have a claim against the Nominal Defendant?
If you think you might have a claim against the Nominal Defendant, because the vehicle that caused your accident was uninsured, or because you can’t identify the vehicle responsible, contact Stacks Goudkamp on 1800 25 1800 or make an online enquiry, to speak to one of our compensation specialists for obligation free advice about your circumstances.
Written by Brett Watts.
Brett Watts is an Associate in Tom Goudkamp and Ruth Hudson’s Practice Group. Brett represents people who have been injured in a variety of accidents including motor vehicle claims and public liability claims.