If there’s any sort of insurance I would say is absolutely essential, it’s cover for damage to the property of third parties done by you in a traffic accident when you are wholly or even partly to blame. Not to be confused with the third party personal injury insurance which is compulsory with registration, third party property insurance is often sold in a package with fire and theft insurance and is a fair bit cheaper than comprehensive insurance. It basically means that if you rear-end someone and they, or their insurer come knocking, you can simply pay your excess and hand it over to your insurer. End of story.
If you don’t have third party property insurance and you can’t pay up straight away, expect to receive increasingly aggressive letters of demand and eventually court documents. Motor vehicle property damage claims can be brought in either QCAT or the Magistrates Court, but you can expect an insurer to elect the Court, where they can use lawyers and add their costs to your bill.
If the damage is to the rear of their vehicle, there’s a powerful presumption that you were at fault. It’s unlikely you can do better than reapportion a small percentage of blame or have a minor win regarding the cost of repairs. When you eventually get a judgment against you and the bailiff starts contacting you with a warrant of execution you are really going to wish you had had third party property insurance!
Julian Porter is Principal Solicitor of Suncoast Community Legal Service.
This column contains legal information only. Legal advice should be sought in relation to individual circumstances.