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Non-fault claims and accidents: how do they affect my insurance?

What do you do if you’re in an accident where you weren’t to blame? Do you claim on your own insurance policy or are you covered by the other driver? 

Here’s what you need to know about non-fault claims and how they affect your car insurance.

 

What do you do if you’re in an accident where you weren’t to blame? Do you claim on your own insurance policy or are you covered by the other driver? 

Here’s what you need to know about non-fault claims and how they affect your car insurance.

 

Written by
Julie Daniels
Motor insurance comparison expert
Reviewed by
Rebecca Goodman
Personal finance expert
Last Updated
30 MAY 2024
6 min read
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What is a non-fault claim?

A non-fault car insurance claim is one you make when a car accident isn’t your fault. If you make a non-fault claim, your insurance provider can recover the total cost of the claim from the person whose fault it was (known as the liable party).

This is the opposite of an ‘at-fault’ claim, which is when you are liable for damages.

But you can be involved in an accident that wasn’t your fault where the claim still gets classified as an at-fault insurance claim.

This usually happens if you have an accident that’s caused by an unidentified at-fault party and there’s no one to claim against. This could be the case if an animal jumps into the road or another driver causes the accident but drives off.

When that happens, you become liable.

How do I know who is at fault for a car accident? 

During the claims process, insurance providers need to decide who’s responsible for the costs of repairs and any compensation for injuries. This means the accident needs to be assessed to determine whether yours is a non-fault claim or an at-fault claim.

Insurance providers will use all the evidence they can find to determine who’s at fault, including:

  • Footage from speed cameras, CCTV, dashcams and mobile phones
  • Photos (you should take pictures to record any damage as soon as safely possible)
  • Eye-witness statements
  • Police and medical reports.

Once the insurance providers have gathered and evaluated their evidence, they’ll decide who was at fault for the accident.

If you disagree with the decision, you can contest it by making a formal complaint using your provider’s official complaints process. This should be detailed on your provider’s website and in your policy documents.

If you don’t get the result you were hoping for, you could then take your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). There’s no charge to use the Ombudsman Service, but you need to have a final response letter from the insurance provider before you can ask the Ombudsman to investigate.

Author image Julie Daniels

What our expert says...

“Being involved in a car accident can be a real shock to the system. Once you’re assured that everyone is safe, stay calm and focus on gathering evidence. Take photos of the scene and note down the details of the accident while it’s still fresh in your mind.

“And a word of warning: think twice about immediately jumping out of the car and apologising. It may seem like the polite thing to do but it could be used against you as an admission of guilt."

- Julie Daniels, Motor insurance comparison expert

Does the level of my car insurance affect my claim? 

If you’re found to be not at fault for the accident, the level of your cover won’t affect your payout, as you’ll be claiming on the other driver’s policy. But it will affect the claims process.

If you have third-party insurance:

If you have third-party insurance, which is the minimum level of cover required by law, you should make a claim against the other driver’s insurance directly. If the other driver is insured and their provider agrees that you weren’t at fault, they should cover the cost of repair, a courtesy car and other compensation costs.

You won’t need to get your insurance provider involved with the claim, but you should let them know what’s going on.

If the at-fault driver is uninsured, you won’t be able to claim on your own third-party or third-party fire and theft policy for any damage to you or your vehicle. In that case, you may be able to claim for compensation through the Motor Insurance Bureau (MIB).

If you have comprehensive cover:

If you have comprehensive insurance, you should claim from your own insurance provider. You’ll just need to pay your policy excess.

Your provider will try to recover their losses from the other driver’s insurance provider, including any policy excess you had to pay. But if they’re unable to do so, you could lose the excess you paid and some, or all, of your no-claims bonus.

If you’re found at fault:

If it’s decided that you’re at fault for the accident, you would need to have a comprehensive car insurance policy to claim compensation.

Is claiming on my car insurance worth it, if an accident wasn’t my fault?

If the damage is minor or only superficial, you might decide that it’s not worth making an insurance claim and pay for any repairs yourself. That’s because even if it’s agreed that you weren’t at fault, the claim will still be recorded on your claims history and could make your premiums more expensive come renewal time.

If you’re found partially at fault or the accident involved an uninsured driver, your insurance provider wouldn’t be able to fully recover their losses. In this case, your no-claims bonus would likely be affected, and you wouldn’t get a refund for any excess you paid when making a claim.

You’ll still need to notify your insurance provider that you’ve had an accident, even if you don’t make a claim. And it will still be recorded on your file as an incident.

Do I need to declare a non-fault accident? 

Yes. You need to declare all accidents that you’re involved in, regardless of who or what was at fault, and whether you make a claim. Not telling your provider about an accident could lead to issues down the line.

Almost every insurance company will have a clause in their policy requiring you to declare any incidents you’ve been involved in while driving in the past five years. Sometimes it’s just the past three years, sometimes it’s more.

If you don’t report something and your insurance provider finds out about it later, they could consider this ‘non-disclosure’, which could invalidate your policy.

Does declaring a non-fault claim affect my insurance?

Yes, it will be recorded on your claims history. In many cases, your premiums will go up after you’ve declared a non-fault claim. ​​This is because your insurance provider will view you as a higher risk in future, even if an accident wasn’t your fault.

Does a non-fault accident affect a no-claims discount?

No, a non-fault claim shouldn’t affect your no claims discount.

When you make a non-fault claim, your no-claims bonus could be affected while your insurance provider investigates who’s at fault. However, if they confirm that you’re not liable and they’re able to fully recover their losses from the other provider, your full no-claims bonus should be reinstated.

However, check your policy wording to be sure.

How can I lower the cost of my car insurance after an accident? 

You may be able to save money on the cost of your car insurance in a few ways:

Add a named driver to your policy


If the named driver is more experienced, it could lower the cost of your car insurance premium. Just make sure you’re honest about who’s the main driver and who’s the additional driver. Otherwise you’re at risk of fronting, a type of car insurance fraud.

Increase your voluntary excess

If you agree to pay a higher voluntary excess, you could get a lower premium. But be sure you can afford to pay both the compulsory and voluntary excess to make a claim.

Improve your driving 

If you’ve just passed your test, consider taking a Pass Plus course. It will expand your driving know-how and could lower your premium (but check whether this is the case with your insurance provider beforehand).

Telematics or black box insurance 

Telematics car insurance tracks and monitors your driving. If you prove that you're a safe driver, it could have a positive impact on your premium.

Compare car insurance quotes 

Shop around and you could find a better price for car insurance. We compare a wide range of insurance providers to help you find the cover you need.

Looking for a car insurance quote?

Compare car insurance quotes with us today and see if you could start saving.

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Frequently asked questions

How much does a non-fault claim affect my insurance?

A non-fault claim could increase the cost of your car insurance, but it’s hard to say by how much. It may depend on the type and extent of the non-fault claim, for example.

How long does a non-fault claim take?

It depends on the type and complexity of the claim you make, and how long it takes the insurance provider to establish who’s liable. 

If the claim is for minor or cosmetic damage, and undisputed, it could be resolved within a week or even days. 

If the claim is for more extensive damage or involves personal injury, and there’s disagreement about who’s at fault, it could take several weeks or even months.

How do I claim for a non-fault accident?

Here’s how to make a claim for a non-fault accident

If you have comprehensive cover, you can make a claim with your insurance provider following their claims process. You’ll have to pay the excess agreed on your policy. 

Your insurance provider will pay for the repairs to your vehicle and try to recover their losses from the other driver’s insurance. If they’re successful, your excess will be refunded and your no-claims bonus shouldn’t be affected. 

If you have third-party, or third-party, fire and theft insurance, you’ll need to write to the other driver and make a claim against them directly. They should then report the claim to their insurance provider. 

You’ll need to inform your insurance provider about the incident.

Julie Daniels - motor insurance comparison expert

Julie is passionate about delivering a great customer experience and rewarding people for saving on their insurance through our loyalty and rewards programme. She’s spoken to the media, including outlets like Sky News and Capital FM, about car and home insurance, as well as our rewards scheme.

Learn more about Julie

Rebecca Goodman - personal finance expert

Rebecca Goodman is a freelance financial journalist who specialises in insurance, personal finance and consumer affairs. Rebecca regularly writes for national newspapers including The Independent and The Mail on Sunday on a wide-range of financial topics. She covers everything from money-saving tips and holiday advice to investigations into how energy efficient appliances can cut the cost of household bills and the impact donating money can have on those in need. Along with features in national papers, Rebecca also writes news stories for websites including Yourmoney.com and The Money Edit.

Learn more about Rebecca

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