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Car hire scams and what to look out for

18 April 2023

What is a car hire scam?

If you’re in an accident where you weren’t at fault, it’d help to have a temporary set of wheels to keep you on the road. That’s why the insurer of the at-fault driver may offer you a temporary hire car.

But sometimes, third-party scammers try to elbow their way into the claims process1, offering a hire car that’s not authorised by the at-fault driver’s insurance company – or yours, for that matter. This can end up costing you a lot more than expected.

Avoid any hire cars offered by an unverified third-party source, as accepting one could lead to your car being taken for unauthorised repairs or kept in storage. This can result in unexpected delays and additional costs.

What to do after a collision

  • Remain calm. Check whether anybody is injured – if they are, call 000 immediately.
  • If you can do it safely, move your car out of the way and turn your hazard lights on.
  • If you can’t move out of the way and the road is blocked, call the police.

When exchanging your details with the other parties involved, avoid unnecessary stress by avoiding blame and focusing on relevant information, such as their:

  • name
  • address, and
  • registration number.

Once you have those details, contact your insurance company. If you’re insured with Suncorp Insurance, you can claim online in minutes.

Make a claim

Not-at-fault car hire

If you’re insured with Suncorp Insurance and your car can’t safely be driven after an incident covered by your policy and you’re not at fault, we may be able to arrange and pay for reasonable car hire costs using our trusted hire car providers until your car is repaired and returned, or your claim is settled. All you need to do is provide the name and address of the driver at fault and the vehicle registration number to us.

This is offered as part of Suncorp’s Comprehensive Car Insurance, or Fire, Theft and Third Party Property Damage Insurance. Suncorp also offers an optional Hire Car cover (available with Comprehensive Extras) which can provide you with a hire car for up to 21 days, even if you were at fault. Limits apply, please read the Product Disclosure Statement for more info.

What to look out for

Third parties can pose as representatives from the at-fault driver’s insurer, and may offer to provide a replacement vehicle and take care of repairs at ‘no cost’ to you.

The thing is, they’re often instead part of a network involving:

  • tow truck drivers
  • repairers
  • claims management companies
  • vehicle hire companies, and
  • lawyers.

They may ask drivers to sign something called an ‘Authority to Act’ or a Car Hire Rental Agreement immediately on a tablet, then take the damaged vehicle away – without you knowing where it is or how long it’ll be there.

You may then be left on the hook for any additional costs that start to accumulate. Be careful, and only work with trusted and verified sources.

Search engine ad manipulation

Online scams may involve scammers purchasing adspace that ranks at the top of search pages for key terms like “Suncorp claims”, and may include the brand name in their ad. Victims may click these ads thinking they’ll receive details from the insurer, but instead may be directed to a separate claims management company with no connection to the insurer.

These operators may continue to use deceptive language to gain the victim’s trust. Many people who were previously scammed report that they thought they were communicating with the insurer, or the insurer of the at-fault driver.

This scam can lead to:

  • vehicles being taken and impounded
  • substandard car repairs with no choice of repairer
  • claims delayed or declined
  • personal details shared with unrelated organisations
  • charges for activities that would be managed at no or reduced cost by an insurer, and
  • involvement in legal proceedings to recover costs.

How to avoid being scammed

  • Be cautious and take care when interacting with insurers and other service providers.
  • Ensure you are dealing with the insurer by checking their web address, and double-checking your policy documents for contact details.
  • Confirm that you are speaking with the insurer when contacting them after an accident.
  • Carefully read all documents before signing, and be sure to ask for copies.
  • If you discover that you have been misled into believing an insurer had organised hire car or repair services on your behalf, be sure to contact the actual insurer immediately.

Read more:

1 Car Hire Scams |

Insurance issued by AAI Limited ABN 48 005 297 807 trading as Suncorp Insurance. Read the Product Disclosure Statement before buying this insurance. The Target Market Determination is also available. This advice has been prepared without taking into account your particular objectives, financial situations or needs, so you should consider whether it is appropriate for you before acting on it.

The information is intended to be of general nature only. Subject to any rights you may have under any law, we do not accept any legal responsibility for any loss or damage, including loss of business or profits or any other indirect loss, incurred as a result of reliance upon the information. Please make your own enquiries.