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​Will a non-fault accident affect my insurance?

​A car accident is always an unpleasant shock. It’s even worse when it’s not your fault. So 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 accidents.

​A car accident is always an unpleasant shock. It’s even worse when it’s not your fault. So 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 accidents.

Written by
Kate Hughes
Insurance expert
Last Updated
9 MARCH 2023
3 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 that’s the case, your insurance provider can recover the total cost of a 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.

Usually it happens if you have an accident that’s caused by an unidentified at-fault party (perhaps an animal jumps out into the road or the at-fault driver causes the accident but drives off) and there’s no one to claim against. 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 and dashcams
  • Photos (you should take pictures to record any damage as soon as safely possible)
  • Eye-witness statements
  • Police and medical reports.

(A word of warning too… if you’re involved in an accident, think twice about immediately jumping out of the car apologising. It may seem like the polite thing to do but it could be used against you as an admission of guilt.)

Once the insurance providers have gathered their evidence, they’ll decide who was at fault for the accident. If you disagree with the decision, you can contest it by writing to them. If you don’t get the result you were hoping for, you could then take your complaint to the ​Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).

Does the level of my car insurance affect my claim? 

If you’re found to not be 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. As long as they have third party insurance, which is the minimum level of cover required by law, then ​the provider should cover the cost of repair, a courtesy car and other compensation costs. You’ll just need to pay your policy excess.

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

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

If the accident wasn’t your ​​fault, you should be able to claim and get compensation from the other driver‘s insurance policy (if they’re insured). This means you shouldn’t need to claim on your own insurance.

If someone else was at fault but they’re an uninsured driver, you could try and claim through the Motor Insurer’s Bureau, or bite the bullet and claim on your own policy, if you have comprehensive cover.

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 making an accident claim on your own insurance will result in you losing any no claims discount you receive, making your premiums more expensive next time round.

Either way- and this is crucial- you’ll still need to notify your insurance provider that you’ve had an accident, even if you don’t make a claim.

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.  

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. 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, unfortunately, 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 it 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. However, you should 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 different ways:

  • Add a named driver to your policy – if the new named driver is more experienced, it spreads the risk and as a result, could lower ​​the cost of your car insurance premium. ​​Just make sure that you're being honest about who's the priority driver and who's the additional driver, otherwise you’re at risk of fronting, an illegal type of car insurance fraud.
  • Increase your voluntary excess – just make sure you can actually afford to pay both the compulsory and voluntary excess in the event of an at-fault claim.
  • Improve your driving – if you’ve just passed your test, consider taking the Pass Plus as well. 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 insurancetelematics 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 – we’ll compare over a wide range of insurance providers to help you find the right deal for you

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