Strange events following smash repair visit.

Hi all. Have a bit of a strange one, not sure what to do and seeing if anyone else has been in a similar situation.

Sometime in 2019, I was involved in a minor car accident, a lady rolled into my car at a set of lights. Not much damage but seeing as it was a new car I went through insurance. Dropped my car off to the smash repairs (I had choice of repairer on my policy), and a few months later, picked my car up. During this 2-3 months I had a hire car supplied by the smash repairer. Overall, besides a long repair time, I was happy with the whole process.

Fast forward almost 2 years to last week, I get a phone call from the smash repairer saying a lawyer will be contacting me regarding the incident that took place. He asked me questions about the hire car, length of repair etc. I asked what is happening and he said the insurance company is refusing to pay the repair bill supplied by the smash repairer ( I'm assuming the hire car was more than the repair bill), and that I have nothing to worry about.

Yesterday, the lawyer sends me an affidavit asking me to read and sign it. I see my name as a plaintiff and the poor lady's name that rammed me as the defendant. Bit spooked by this I searched my contacts and found her name saved in my phone from the accident a couple years ago. I call her last night asking what is happening. She tells me that she received a letter from me last year, personally suing her for a sum in excess of $30,000! Now I have no idea what this means, and am completely taken back by this news and am quite shocked that someone can sue on my behalf without me having any prior knowledge. I called the smash repaired again today and shared this 'news' and he says it's normal, he has over 100 clients that are in similar situations and there is a slight chance I could end up in court! But assures me this is normal!

Before I sign and send anything back to them, I'm just wanting to see if anyone can shed some further light on this situation, if it sounds 'normal' and what I should do from here. The whole thing sounds quite suss!

Cheers and sorry for the essay.

Comments

  • +1

    Why on earth was the car not written off? If the repairer (and hire car) bill was more the entire car was worth at that point then it should have been written off five times over!

    • Not exactly write off but yeah insurer could’ve paid out the OP and waited for the part themselves then sell the car once repaired.

      • That's what a write-off is (except for NSW who made all write-off stat write-offs - I assume they got a big bag of cash from the car companies for this). Write-offs just mean that it's not economical to fix for the customer. In this case because the time-cost of ordering the parts was so high.

        • Yeah but in this case, does it have to recorded as a repairable write-off? As that would decrease the value of the car? Can’t they just sell it without it being a write-off at all?

          • @Ridiculous Panda: Yes, putting it on the WOVR must cost money, and it reduces the value of the car, but compared to a $30k repair bill it's a no brainer.

  • +1

    Sounds like some lawyer scam going on. They're using your situation to organise a law suit on your behalf for a massive payout and a big cut for the lawyers. Possibly in cahoots with the repair shop since they seem to be on the lawyers side.

    Why would they need several months to fix what you called minor damage?

    Everything is very suspicious to me. Personally I wouldn't sign or he part of anything. You're not liable for any charges and seems like someone is trying to screw over the old lady.

  • Bro thats literally what you pay insurance for so why are they doing it on YOUR behalf? Insurance does that on your behalf. Speak to insurance and dont sign shit…

  • +6

    This is normal.

    You are always the plaintiff, as when you have insurance, you agree to help assist the insurance company claim back any moneys owed. The person who smashed into you is always the defendent. It is not the insurance companies that were involved in the accident, you and the other party are, therefore on all addresses it is always you two. As you both have insurance, the insurance company then picks up the tab as you paid them to cover you.

    You will find that the smash repairer probably oncharged the hire car fees to the opposing parties insurance which normally disputes such things. Yes, in this car, the smash repairer is trying to make a buck out of the cost of the hire car. It's why someone is so gleefully willing at smash repairers to offer you a car when it's a not at fault accident. The only thing is they have to deal with chasing up the bill for it.

    Relax.

    • Good to see some balance when you have comments like this https://www.ozbargain.com.au/comment/10190861/redir
      I seriously wonder how some people make rational decisions while constantly shooting from the hip. /rhetorical

      • Because sometimes the truth doesn't play well with emotional beings.

    • -2

      1+

      I also work in the industry.

      DO NOT contact your insurer unless the smash repairer asks you to!

  • +7

    insurance: "we plan on financial destroying this little old lady, and drag it through the courts and turn a Forrest into paper just for this case"
    op: Jesus christ
    insurance: "but you get a hire car"
    op: F HER! signs vigorously

    • +1

      Well to be fair it wasnt the insurance company. OP decided to get own repairer and own rental. Insurance company wont agree to such a high cost to fix a minor repair. And let alone leave the car with repairer for 2 months.

  • +2

    SCAM… do not talk to repairer at all.
    Only deal with your insurer.

    Why would you accept two months out of action for what you describe as being minor… I bet only a scratch.

    The repair knows this,,, and sought more scamming money via car hire.

    DO NOT speak with anybody other than your Insurer…. got that?

    • +1

      Was just about to post almost identical comments. I think the repairer is involved in an elaborate scam and it sounds like they have done it before too. I would not be surprised if they have some sort of kick back scheme going on with the hire car company.

      I always thought your insurer supplied a hire car if required on your policy not the panel beaters.

  • call ghost busters

  • +6

    As others point out the thing that isn’t clear is why you’d get a hire car from the smash repairer?

    I’m with NRMA and have been for years and had four not at fault repairs and EVERY time NRMA have organised the car hire on my behalf - even for a repairer who wasn’t in their usual IAG network (because their network was too busy to take on the repair) and in this case NRMA called the repairer directly to confirm the repair time upfront and then booked the car hire for me (through Thrifty). The repairs were delayed 3 days so I rang NRMA who confirmed with the repairer and extended the car hire with Thrifty directly.

    I’m not sure why OP didn’t do this with NRMA because then there wouldn’t be any question about whether the car hire was legitimate…

    • I've only had the one but it was exactly as you described. A regular car rental, with insurance/repairer also organising a taxi to get me between the repairer and the rental company in both directions.
      NRMA even covered the rental insurance so there'd be no excess if anything happened in it

  • Did the lady have insurance?

    Your smash repairer seems like the sus one here IMO. Probably ran up the bill and tried to claim an unreasonable amount of storage and car hire fees (and are aware that they can't justify it) and got knocked back by insurance, now they've resorted to extorting the lady for money.

    3 months is a stupid amount of time to get the repair done IMO. If it took that long to get to your car, they shouldn't have taken on the work.

    I wouldn't sign anything that smash repairer asks you to if I were you. You would just be signing yourself up for unnecessary headache when you are covered by insurance.

  • +2

    Oh one of those Not My Fault or Right2Drive rentals, I thought they usually confirm the other party to have insurance first before a car gets sent. You've got this far because those vultures couldn't recover your rental fee from the other party's insurer.

    When used right, these things are handy. I've had a brand new Range Rover Sports from them for 5 weeks, and boy that bill was scary. It was like $350 ex GST a day. I think insurers are getting sick and tired of paying these vultures so they're now handing out replacement cars themselves.

    • -2

      You call them vultures, but I don't see why I should be inconvenienced because some one else damaged my car.

      You're right that the insurance companies should be doing it themselves - the problem is that they instead choose to charge extra for the "privilege" of getting a rental car from them, which has lead to the existence of these companies in the first place.

      We've used them twice - one time was for about 6 weeks because the car had major damage. We would have had a lot of problems trying to just live our lives without our car otherwise.

      • +5

        I call them vultures on the basis of the severely inflated price that they bill the insurers and consequently we're all paying for it.

        When an insurer pays out more cash, guess where the pot of cash comes from….

        I suppose you could also blame this on the insurers themselves, if they had started providing the replacement vehicles off their own back, this accident replacement vehicle industry wouldn't exist in the first place nor these highly inflated rental charges would exist.

        I've had an i30 from one of these providers at $150 a day and for 3 weeks.

        • +1

          I suppose you could also blame this on the insurers themselves, if they had started providing the replacement vehicles off their own back, this accident replacement vehicle industry wouldn't exist in the first place

          Exactly that. The insurers sell that option to you at a cost when it should be free. It's their own fault, and something they can fix at any time, but like most of these legacy industries who are still living in the last century, they choose not to.

          Whether it's costing you and me more is debatable though - I'm pretty sure they've worked out the cost of these extra third party claims vs. the amount they pull in in extra premiums for rental coverage for the thousands of people who never claim on it.

  • +3

    interesting thread, I had a minor not at fault smash last year and RACV gave me a hire car from thrifty and two taxi vouchers to take me to and from the smash repairer to thrifty. now I know not to use any smash repairers hire car!

  • +6

    I was in similar situation. Didnt go through insurance hire because they didnt have car I needed. Went through smash repair mob. Long story short I signed the paperwork that I will attend court if need be. Havent heard anything back. This was in 2019. The guy that hit me was an ass and I hope they went to town on him.

  • +7

    This is why insurance cots are so high, 30K for a rental car, surely if the damaged car is drivable you just drive it till the parts turn up? Sounds like a legal scam.

  • This sound like the loan car shares (not at fault etc)
    Not so much the repair cost that is in contention, but the car hire cost. I had a similar issue recently, but instead the at fault party’s insurance contacted me for details around the hire. I told them I was promised the car and didn’t question it since it was basically referred to by the repairer (who was also a preferred repairer AFP insurance)

  • +3

    Used to work for a company in the North Shore area that does this called Compass Claims.

    Smash repairer referred you for commission and they are now trying to recover funds on your behalf for the rental.

    • Arhh this was the company I tried to think of they tried to extort money from my mom's insurer. After receiving court documents I rang the insurance agent they said they did offer something but Compass must have refused and explained to me this is their extortion game they play, they must have accepted their second offer.

  • +3

    sneaker car hire scammers hey… sounds like an industry crackdown / govt regulation is needed. That poor lady that bumped into you

  • +1

    So if I accidentally hit a niche French car light, I have to pay 30k for it?

    Jesus Christ

    The smash repairer is doggy af. Why is this kind of practice allowed in the first place ? If I were OP and I want to sue the smash repairer because they misled me to sign that kind of contract, what should I do?

    • +1

      I was also thinking this and got confused. So what the point of having insurance then ? :O

  • When I was hit by another car, the tow truck driver gave me a pamphlet offering car hire services. It seemed very dodgy to me and I didn't go for it.
    Eventually this dodgyness will be brought to light and there will be some regulation. Hopefully sooner rather than later. It would be an actual good story for ACA to investigate and report on.

  • +2

    Smash repairer tried to rip off the insurance company by abusing the car hire. It got backfired when the insurance companies refused to pay.

    They can't sue you because it was part of the service. They can't sue the other driver because they are not directly involved. So they tried to "use" you to sue the other driver to claim the money.

    This is very dodgy and had been going on for years.

  • +3

    OP, make sure you let us know what NRMA say.

  • Wtf dont even consider signing. I don't know what they're pulling but if you're listed as plaintiff this means you're personally doing it.. its nothing to do with you.. your issue is between you and your insurer. If they haven't contacted you, direct the smash repairer and/or lawyer to your insurance company..

  • There's a lot of FUD on here,

    If the repairer recieved liability through the lawyer don't stress. All costs will be paid by the other parties insurer.

    I work in the industry and we are on the top of the food chain, this is our standard procedure, we do this on a daily basis.

    • +1

      Just because its standard practice doesnt mean its right. Just proves a lot of this dodgy stuff is quite common.

      Needs an industry crackdown. Nobody wants their grandma getting caught in this situation. Must be very stressful.

  • The thing you have to do first to avoid any dramas or issues later on:

    -Ask your insurer to organize tow truck in case your car is undrivable. Otherwise I have seen the tow truck takes away the car even car is drivable if you have not at fault;
    -Ask your insurer to nominate car smash repairers and take car directly there. This nominated car smash repairers are in your area within 5 to 10 km away and they are reputed ones who are in industrial areas and not on a main road, so you have not heard about them before and when you visit them you will be surprised that they handle even more prestigious cars then you are driving, so technically you are in safe hands;
    -Ask you insurer to provide you car rental replacement and they will organize directly with car rental company;

    Once you had followed this principals then you will be ensured you will get your vehicle within 10 working days, surveyor has accepted your claim and job has been approved and you don't have to hassle with replacement car.

    I have known that other scam repairers ensure that your cars repairs gets delayed, surveyor refused thier claim and further dramas and finally you will feel that insurance company is not supporting you and you are hamstrung with this guys who has kept your car and earns his illegitimate money.

      • your insurers preferred repairer is preferred because they are cheap, not because they're good. Comments like this are exactly the reason why there are luxury cars there - people getting told the insurer has their best interests at heart

      • your insurer will only provide a car if it is within their policy to (paid option, or not at fault for some insurers e.g. NRMA)

  • +3

    I feel for the at fault driver. You would expect expenses to fix both cars and reasonable car hire costs, sure. But geez may as well expense a few nights at the Burj Al Arab and a few meals of Dodo eggs whilst these modern day thieves are at it.

  • +1

    keep calm and inform your insurance and let them handle it. you pay for them so you don’t need to handle this stuff.

  • -2

    This is normal, it happens all the time…

  • Hmm it's always seemingly the Car Hire companies that are being trouble makers.

  • +3

    I had a very similar situation happen to me.

    • got into an accident (not at fault)
    • got car repaired
    • at fault drivers insurance agreed to cover my replacement vehicle during repairs.

    1 year later i got a call from a legal office saying the replacement vehicle company is suing the at-fault drivers insurance company for not paying the costs of the vehicle.
    The names on the plaintiff/defendant were mine and the at fault drivers

    spent around 5 hours sitting at a magistrates office waiting for these douches to agree on a payment.
    And the reason…. The insurance company was fighting to save 20 bucks on the cost of car hire for 5 days

    the whole event pissed me off at how miniscule the problem was yet so many lawyers/money being wasted for trivial things.

  • +1

    If you have been given an affidavit to sign and a proceeding is already underway then to my mind, the law firm acting for the credit hire company has acted extremely unethically.

    You are the plaintiff in a cause of action. If that cause of action fails at court, then you are the one who might have costs awarded against you. The amount in costs can be fairly significant. Has any of this been explained to you? Is there a costs agreement that has been signed between you and this lawfirm? Is the credit hire company indemnifying you for any costs, if judgment, or appeal of said judgment is made against you? What happens if they refuse to indemnify you?

    Have you been advised as to what is happening so far?

    • negotation status
    • what happens in event of failed negotiations
    • ISC, court?

    From the tone of your post, it sounds like none of this has happened and that is deeply, deeply concerning.

    I think there were at least one or two law firms that were excoriated by the Victorian Legal Services Commission because they acted without the plaintiff's instructions. VIC isn't NSW, but the obligations that a lawyer has to his/her client are the same across all of Australia..

    Of course, maybe you have just said it is an affidavit but in fact it's just a written statement or a statdec and you haven't gone that far down the road.. maybe I'm jumping at shadows..

    • +1

      I had experience with lawyers, never trust them even thought they give all hopes before you start proceedings and once the proceedings starts they start giving you various version of chances and non sucess and finally they ask you to do out of court settlement after one year of litigation. In that time you have already loss your time, money almost 50% of the claim amount as legal and filing fees and give away all the money.

    • +1

      Sorry, but this is wrong. As someone above stated, this is normal in insurance proceedings. It is called subrogation. The insurance company stands in your shoes as a result of the policy, and must sue in your name to recover any amounts they paid you from the person at fault (defendant). There is nothing unethical about it. They are seeking an affidavit because the OP is a witness in the proceedings, he/she literally witnessed what had happened, and no-one else can give evidence about that. He/she should contact the insurer to confirm through their lawyers, but that is almost certainly what is happening, which is absolutely normal. Likewise, if the at fault party was insured, the defendant would be listed as their personal name, but it will all be fought between the insurers. If they are not insured, that was the risk they took and have to defend the proceedings.

  • -2

    If there wasnt much damage why did it take 2/3 months to repair.
    Honestly you were negligent here not chasing it up

    • Because thanks to Covid, parts are in such short supply and they are simply taking that long to come.
      I have files were it's taken 9 months on a Porsche Repair, 10 months on a Bentley repair, 6 months on a Subaru Impreza repair.

  • OP what did NRMA say?

    • what did NRMA say?

      "Pay your premium"

    • “That’ll be $796 please sir”

  • Just let the lawyer handle it. If they win, take your share of the money and move on.

  • sounds like a scam to me.

  • -1

    Will comment after the TLDR

  • OP, how about posting an update of what happened after you spoke to the insurance company, and anything else that's happened since then?

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