The Insurance Situation

Forgive me if this seems like an indulgence, but I believe this will be of interest to some and it’s quite topical given the accident I had over the weekend.

As mentioned, I am hoping that the incident will be covered by my insurance policy. Many have commented that this wouldn’t happen in their country or with their insurer – which may well be the case. I’m not trying to swindle an insurance company here, which hopefully you’ll understand as you read on.

First, about the event.

Many people have heard that I was on a racetrack and the normal assumption when people hear the word “racetrack”, is that I must have therefore been racing or at least driving in a competitive fashion. This is not the case.

I was participating in a basic skills Driver Training Day that was set up to teach better car control and give people a chance to see how their car reacts in certain situations – experience that you can’t get on the road (or if you do, you’re generally in trouble).

A few facts about the day:

1) As per the video I’ve posted earlier, there were three car control exercises in the morning session. These were teaching exercises aimed at learning to control your car in certain unexpected situations. The afternoon consisted of 5-lap sessions with an instructor in the car. There were only 4 cars on the track during lap sessions and these were generally well spaced out.

2) The day was overseen by an appropriately qualified instructor, who was actually in the car with me at the time of the crash.

3) As it was a helmet-optional event, a speed limit of 120 km/h was imposed.

4) There were no timing devices allowed, nor any form of competition. Overtaking was allowed once it was clearly established by both cars involved that it was a possibility. There was also a designated overtaking area on the back straight.

Hopefully, that puts you in the picture a little better. It was an appropriately supervised and conducted training event to learn better car control, not a competitive event of any sort.

Now, to the insurance side of things. Here’s what it states in my policy. The bracketed area is my inclusion to make the clause make sense in the context of this blog, isolated from the rest of the policy document:

17. your vehicle [will not be covered if it] is present at or upon a race track or testing ground, or at or upon land immediately adjacent to a race track or testing ground, unless:
• you prove that your vehicle is there for the purpose of a driver/rider education course being conducted under the tutorage of a professional instructor;

The documentation for the day states clearly that it was a basic skills driver training day and all the points that I’ve advised above. This is why I’m optomistic that the insurers will come to the party. It was, I believe, a combination of driver error and a lack of grip that caused the incident, and these are both supposed to be risks covered by a comprehensive insurance policy as long as the setting is appropriate.

The insurance company has advised me to put in a claim and get the ball rolling. As it happened on a track, though, they have an automatic policy of investigating the incident just to prove the bona fides of the event and the circumstances of the crash.

I talk to the investigating dude tomorrow and will keep you posted.

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12 Comments

  1. I hope you have some joy with the insurance company.
    I know from the past(in the U.K)that if a defect was found on the vehicle and that defect was a cause of the incident,then you were in trouble.
    I just hope this is not the case in Australia.
    And i hope your tyres are not below the legal tread limit.

  2. For what it’s worth, we had a number of similar experiences here in the school owned by the Canadian Saab Club (saabclub.ca/school). No people were injured, but some cars were banged up pretty badly, accidents ranged from bent wheels to cars completely totaled due to driver errors. Insurance companies would investigate the claims every time, but the school was always able to provide the documentation to support the cause. To my knowledge, all claims were honored to far, as long as people carried collision insurance. Hope you will resolve your claim just as successfully.

  3. Swade,

    I know that here in the US the modifications done to the car can void the contract at worst case; a best case scenario, you just lose the money invested in the modifications of the car. The caveat to that is, of course, that you notify them of all modifications which then in turn checks up your premiums.

    Best of luck, Swade.

  4. Steve,

    The tyres could be a point of argument, as could the mods. ie. alteration of steering geometry by rack brace, etc. Hopefully they won’t be that picky, and take it at face value.

    Drew

  5. I dont know how the insurance company will react but it should be positive and any mods you carried out were basically to increase handling stability. I know in the Uk insurers are now commenting on how many cars are now being damaged just outside a track day event. Of course there is no evidence that the car was pushed there by owner.

    Still you walked away and that is the main thing. Only been in one really big one in my life – hit head on by a driver on the wrong side of the road. I still can see it now – “shes going to miss me, shes going to miss me, no shes not, oh s**t this is going to hurt”. Which it did.

  6. To give you some hope: I know of a Viper club that was having a training day on a local track. With an instrutor in the car, a driver made an error and ended up totalling the Viper. Everybody walked away, and because it was training, with a qualified instrutor in the car, the insurance company paid for the whole thing.

    So it can be done!

  7. I checked my car’s insurance (Saab Insurance in Sweden). I found two things that would get you into trouble if you had that insurance:

    1) You were on a track. A track is a closed bit of road that is not a public road. So it doesn’t matter if you were not racing, not doing timed laps, were all alone etc. It’s still a track and they frown upon that.

    2) You have altered the car for more performance. If you do that, your generally in trouble. Saab Insurance only cover damage if it is Saab certified parts covered by a Saab’s warranty. This apply to all kinds of enginge problems. On out-of-standard part, and you could end up with paying it all by yourself.

    Now, it doesn’t say that your all out of luck with the above, but it is not covered as standard and you are in for som discussions about the insurance and what they will pay.

    Hopefully they are a bit little more relaxed donw under. But if I were to take my car to a track on a somewhat regular basis (or even for just one day) I would check my insurance first and (if possible) buy an extension that cover those stuff – or choose another type of insurance altogether that is more made for cars that is altered for performance and used on tracks. And it’s just not that you yourself could go off the track. You could be hit by another car, only to find out that that car’s insurance not gonna cover anything.

  8. And (if I may continue), it’s not just about the car. Bits and pieces could be replaced. But one should really check out the life insurance and similar as well. And what if you go off the track and hurt somebody, and your insurance not gonna cover those costs?

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