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AFCA has had to preside over an interesting case recently where a man claimed for accident damage to the car he was driving and his other car which was stolen that he crashed into. 

The insurer denied the complainants’s rights on the basis it says the damage to both vehicles was the direct result of the complainant driving one car into another – which, funnily enough, isn’t covered by the policy. The policy excludes any loss, damage or liability deliberately caused by an insured person or resulting from the driver of the vehicle acting in a wilful or reckless manner. 

Apparently the couple were driving back from a party in the wee hours when they saw their stolen car sitting at the traffic lights. According to the man’s statement they followed the car for a couple of kilometres while his wife called the police reporting that the driver of the stolen car was driving recklessly and speeding. The police advised them to stop following the car and according the complainant’s statement they turned to go home and then the stolen car came out in front of him and crashed into his car.

Unluckily for the complainant they bought forensics in and using crash data retrieval (CDR)  constructed a different version of events. 

“I was turning right on (L) road and the guy was you know, going more than hundred, or I don‟t know how much kilometre and he just bang in front of me…” said the complainant.

Said the forensics expert…

CDR indicated that Vehicle 1’s (stolen car) steering was being applied in an advanced right turn and Vehicle 2‟s steering was being applied very slightly left, almost straight ahead, at the point of impact.

Based upon the CDR, at the moment of impact, Vehicle 2 was moving at 50 km/h. It had reduced from 69 km/h, in the 5 seconds prior to impact. Vehicle 1, at the moment of impact, was moving at 10 km/h. At 0.5 seconds prior to impact, Vehicle 1 was moving at 8 km/h. It had been stationary in the 4.5 seconds prior.

Forensics concluded that the driver of Vehicle 1 had brought the vehicle to a stop with its steering applied at very mild right-turn light angles until sometime between 1.5 seconds and 1 second before impact, when the driver of Vehicle 1 applied a rapid and considerable right-turn steering input about which time the vehicle accelerated to about 10 km/h.

The rapid and extensive right-hand steering input may have been out of efforts by Vehicle 1‟s driver to remove themselves from the path of Vehicle 2, that was advancing at speeds of up to 69 km/h on the stationary Vehicle 1.

AFCA noted that the complainant‟s description of the speed of vehicle 1, is completely at odds with the conclusions of the forensic experts. It allowed that there was no evidence to deny the theft of the car but that the damage to vehicle 2 should not be covered by the policy. The insurer says that the damage to vehicle 1 should not be covered because it was caused by vehicle 2.

AFCA also noted that: ‘The complainant‟s wife has been out of work since the accident, the complainant has lost his work contract and suffered financial losses and the police were unable to track the thief of the stolen vehicle.’

You can read the final ruling here.