Do I need to declare my non-fault accidents and claims?

An accident is always an unpleasant shock - and in some cases it might not have been your fault. So what do you do if you’re in an accident where you weren’t to blame? Here’s what you need to know…

An accident is always an unpleasant shock - and in some cases it might not have been your fault. So what do you do if you’re in an accident where you weren’t to blame? Here’s what you need to know…

Kate Hughes
Insurance expert
minute read
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Last Updated 21 FEBRUARY 2022

What is a non-fault claim?

It’s when your insurance provider can recover the total cost of a claim from the person whose fault it was (known as the liable party).  

The opposite of a non-fault claim is (you’ve guessed it) 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 claim.  

Usually it happens if you have an accident that’s caused by an unidentified third party (perhaps an animal jumps out into the road or another 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 an accident? 

Unfortunately, when it comes to insurance and accidents, insurance providers need to decide who’s responsible for paying 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.  

To start with, both drivers will be investigated to find out whether they broke any traffic laws during or leading up to the accident. For example, were both drivers travelling within the speed limit or was one or both of you speeding?

Insurance providers will use all the evidence they can find to determine who’s at fault, including any speed cameras, CCTV or even eye-witness statements recorded by the police. That’s why it’s so important that you gather any evidence you can as soon as the accident happens. This could include eye-witness accounts, but photographic or video evidence is best, such as a dash cam.  

(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).  

Frustrating though it may be, you need to follow the established process with all this. Appeal to your insurance provider first before approaching the ombudsman, as they’ll only tell you to go back and do it anyway if you try to skip a step.

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 claim, 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 you’ll be fine. 

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 and their insurance policy (if they’re insured). This means you shouldn’t need to claim on your own insurance. 
If the other driver was at fault but they’re uninsured, you could try and claim through the Motor Insurer’s Bureau, or bite the bullet and claim on your own policy. To claim for damages to your own car, you’ll need to have a fully comprehensive policy. Third-party cover only covers damage to other people’s vehicles.  

On the other hand, if the damage is minor or only superficial, you might decide that it’s not worth making a claim. That’s because making a claim on your own insurance will result in you losing any no claims discount you receive, making your premiums more expensive next time round. Alternatively, if the cost of repairs is relatively cheap, you might decide to just pay for them out of your own pocket.   

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 claim? 

Yes. You need to declare all accidents that you’re involved in, regardless of who or what was at fault.  

Almost every insurance provider will have a clause in their policy requiring you to declare any incidents you’ve been involved in while driving in the past 5 years. If you don’t report something and your insurance provider finds out about it later, they could invalidate your policy.

Does declaring a non-fault claim affect my insurance?

Unfortunately, yes it does. In many cases, your premiums will go up after you’ve declared a non-fault claim to your insurance provider. This is because certain circumstances surrounding the accident, even if it wasn’t your fault, may lead to more accidents in the future.  

It could be, for example, that you travel through busy junctions on your way to work or you regularly drive along winding country roads where visibility is poor and speed limits are high.  

The good news is that a non-fault claim shouldn’t affect your no claims discount.  

How can I lower the cost of my insurance? 

You may be able to lower the cost of your car insurance in a few different ways:

  • compare car insurance quotes – we’ll compare over a wide range of insurance providers to help you find the right deal for you 
  • 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. But you can’t just add anyone – they have to actually drive the car, 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 it backs up the fact that you’re a safe driver, it could have a positive impact on your premium 

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