Safer Driver Tips

How to Avoid Minor Accident Damage to your Car

The majority of Australian insurance claims are not the result of severe accidents. Instead most insurance claims result from moderate exterior damage caused by minor accidents. These accidents pose a unique financial challenge. Repairs are typically cheaper than the excess payable on the claim, which means one can ignore minor damages and allow them to accumulate over time.

Here are some of the most common forms of minor accident damage and how you can avoid them.

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1. Windscreen chips

One of the leading causes of accidental car damage in Australia is airborne gravel. Gravel kicked up by other cars typically causes damages to car windscreens. Even small chips can turn into bigger cracks over time, requiring drivers to replace their entire windshield.

Here’s how you can avoid windscreen chips:

  • avoid driving behind heavy vehicles, particularly if they are not equipped with mud flaps or are carrying rubble or building materials
  • maintain a good following distance behind all vehicles, and increase this distance as soon as you hit country or gravel roads
  • have a specialist repair windscreen chips immediately. These are inexpensive to repair in the early stages, but can require an expensive replacement of the entire windscreen if left unattended.

2. Hail damage

Many parts of Australia experience hailstorms that can cause severe damage to car bodywork and glass. While it’s not always possible to anticipate a hail storm in advance, the following steps should reduce your chances of suffering hail damage to your car:

  • set up a severe weather alert on your phone. An alert five minutes before a storm strikes can save you thousands of dollars
  • move your car under cover as soon as possible. In severe hailstorms avoid flat roofed structures as these can collapse under the weight of hailstones
  • if you’re at home but don’t have a carport, covering your car with blankets or rugs will prevent serious hail damage.

3. Parking accidents

Parking lots are hotbeds of minor accident damage. Bumps suffered while reversing, dented doors and scratched sideview mirrors generate a large proportion of Australian car insurance claims every year.

Developing the following habits can help you to avoid becoming the victim of a low-speed or stationary vehicle accident:

  • leave adequate space between your car and those beside you when parking. Get into the habit of parking at the edge of parking bay rows whenever possible, so that only one side of your car is exposed
  • park further from the entrance to the building you are visiting, where fewer cars are parked. This will often allow you to park without cars on either side of you
  • when possible drive through a parking bay so that your car is parked facing forwards when you want to exit
  • indicate when you reverse out of parking bays, and make use of the full arsenal of blind spot checks you were taught during your driving lessons
  • never park directly outside the entrance to pubs or clubs – you’re likely to have tipsy patrons of these establishments parked on either side of you
  • if you’re going to send a last text or interact with the music system on your car, do it while you are still stationary and not while you are busy driving out of your parking bay.

4. Potholes

A pothole can cause all sorts of annoying damage to a car, from punctured tyres to scratched rims and damage to the suspension system. While pothole formation is unpredictable and one can pop up on a familiar route at any moment, there are ways to minimize the chances of suffering damage from a pothole encounter.

  • don’t tailgate. One of the many benefits of avoiding tailgating is you’ll have more time to see potholes – or cars in front of you reacting to them
  • reduce your speed when the road is wet. Water tends to pool up and conceal even large potholes. Night-time driving on wet roads requires even more caution
  • if you see you’re going to hit a pothole slow down without hard braking. If you brake as you hit the pothole you will subject your suspension to more impact force and potential damage
  • don’t jerk the wheel to avoid a pothole. This can easily result in loss of control of the vehicle and an accident.

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