Are insurers not liable in accidents involving animals?

Published 16 Apr 2020

In October 2019, a musician was travelling across Australia and got into a car accident involving kangaroos who were in the roadway. He tried to file a claim to help him cover the cost of the accident, but was denied by his auto insurer.

Specifically, the claim was denied on the ground that the musician's coverage was for third-party fire and theft insurance, as well as accidents involving other vehicles, but did not cover accidents involving animals, according to the Australian Financial Complaints Authority. The musician filed a dispute with the AFCA, arguing that the policy contained "unclear wording."

What came next?

Unfortunately for the musician, the AFCA ruled that the insurer in question was correct to deny the claim, even in acknowledging that the policy did not specifically make reference one way or another to accidents involving an animal. In making the decision, the AFCA also denied the claimant's attempt to receive compensation for non-financial losses related to a hotline worker providing "inaccurate advice" that caused him distress when the accident was initially reported.

As a result of these rulings, the insurer was not required to provide the musician any compensation.

A common issue?

Given how commonplace wildlife and domestic animals can sometimes be in Australia's roadways, it should come as little surprise that accidents involving animals of all descriptions happen with some frequency. According to LawAccess NSW, there may be many liability issues for accidents involving animals, such as whether the animal was being used as transport, if an owner did not take reasonable care to keep it out of the road, how busy the road typically is, whether it was a wild animal and more.

In some cases, if you are involved in such a collision – particularly one involving a domestic animal – you may also have an obligation to report the crash to the police or its owner, if you can determine who that would be.

If you are involved in an auto accident of any kind, it's important to look into your rights around making a claim. For help from experienced experts, turn to the professionals at Gerard Malouf & Partners. Our No Win No Fee program will help ensure you get the full picture of your options, so get in touch today.