My car is a total loss – can they deduct my premiums, CTP and registration?

Yes. Check your policy.

In summary they can deduct or keep:

  • the excess
  • the rest of the year’s insurance premiums
  • the unused car registration and CTP insurance
  • the value of the wrecked car or keep it

To explain in more detail:

Your excess

Your excess is your contribution to a claim

The rest of the year’s premiums

You’ve agreed to pay for a year’s worth of insurance, even if you make your payments monthly. The total cost of your insurance (the premiums) is in exchange for a certain value of coverage, or your ‘sum insured’. When you have a total loss claim, the whole premium for the rest of the 12 month period of insurance is due.

For example, your premium is $1,200 for 12 months insurance cover over your car which has a market value of $10,000. If you have an accident in month 2, your car is written off, and you have paid $200 in premiums but you still owe another $1000 in premiums for the rest of the year. The remainder of the year’s premiums ($1000) will be deducted from your payout amount ($10,000 – $1,000 = $9,000).

The unused portion of your registration and CTP insurance

Most insurance policies define the market value of the car as including its registration and compulsory 3rd party insurance (in the same way as the car’s bonnet or wheels forms part of the car’s insured value).

In some states the insurer will deduct the remaining value of your unused registration and Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurance from your payout. You can recover your unused CTP from your CTP insurer and get a refund for your unused registration from your state’s Roads or Transport authority (eg: Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) in NSW). As you can recover these amounts yourself, they are not losses when deducted by your insurer.

The wreck

If the car is written off, the insurer will (at their discretion) either:

  • Keep the wreck and pay you the sum insured; or
  • Give you the option of keeping the damaged car but only pay you the value of the car less its salvage value. You should get advice before deciding to keep the damaged car as it may be difficult or impossible to re-register if it has been deemed unrepairable and is listed on the written off vehicle register (WOVR). You should also read our “My Car has been written off” Fact Sheet for general information about what is considered unrepairable under legislation.

For example

Emily’s car had a market value of around $8000. She took out comprehensive car insurance with BIG insurance company and was paying the premiums monthly. Emily’s car was badly damaged in an accident. She was at fault. When she claimed on her car insurance, the insurer told Emily that her car is a write-off.

Emily was expecting the insurer to pay her $8000, so she was shocked when the insurer told her she was only getting $5800 because they are deducting:

  • The excess;
  • The rest of the year’s insurance premiums;
  • The unused car registration and CTP insurance

…and they’re keeping the wrecked car.

Emily calls and asks: can the insurer do that? As outlined above – the answer is Yes.

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