Thursday 18 March 2010
Private car insurance on the fire-ground; are you covered?
The RFBAQ has been in contact with 4 large personal insurance companies in Queensland to ask as to whether Volunteers are covered when using their personal vehicles on the fire-ground as is outlined in the Brigade Manual D7.20.
These inquiries are in response to the RFBAQ attending a Stanley Rivers Group meeting where the 1st Officer of a brigade raised questions about personal vehicle insurance and the fire-ground. The Officers attending the meeting wished to know if they were covered driving and using their vehicles in a Volunteer capacity, would their vehicle be covered if using a slip on unit or trailer and also if the QFRS insurance coverage was capped at $10,000?
From the response that we have received from RACQ, AAMI, NRMA and Suncorp, it would appear that no one apart from the RFBAQ has ever formally asked these questions of the underwriters.
The question asked of each of these 4 large personal insurers was; would your companies comprehensive or third party fire and theft policies cover Volunteer fire-fighters driving their vehicles to the station, to the actual fire-ground and/or using the vehicle with a slip on unit or trailer as a frontline fire-fighting vehicle. In each instance we also informed the insurers that this was not for reward, and that the Volunteers were not being paid for their services.
The findings below are in no way given as advice, and policy holders should contact their relevant insurer.
NRMA has written to the RFBAQ stating - “I've had confirmation from our Motor Product team that we would under our comprehensive motor policy and our Third Party Fire & Theft policy cover a volunteer’s car if destroyed or damaged by fire while fulfilling volunteer duties.”
NRMA telephone number – 13 21 32
AAMI has also responded in writing to the RFBAQ – “……While AAMI will fairly consider any claim for fire, heat or smoke damage on an individual basis, we need to stress that the AAMI Policy does not cover instances where its driver has placed their car intentionally in a position where damage would be highly likely to occur. We would expect your AAMI-insured members to not utilise their vehicles as direct fire fighting appliances or similar ‘front-line’ fire fighting vehicles.
AAMI’s third party property damage car insurance policy operates on the same basis as above.”
AAMI telephone number - 13 22 44
RACQ informed the RFBAQ that it is their company policy not to release written general information of this nature, and recommends that all Volunteers who have motor policies with RACQ contact them to discuss the levels of cover that they are covered for under their individual policies.
RACQ telephone number – 13 19 05
Suncorp has, after the initial RFBAQ inquiry, rolled out an online training package to their motor vehicle insurance staff covering Volunteers who use their private vehicles on the fire-ground. Suncorp has also mailed out this information to customers who it knows are involved in Volunteer fire brigades. This was done prior to Suncorp sending the RFBAQ written confirmation of coverage for Volunteer fire-fighters.
“As a part of Suncorp’s commitment to the community, we will ensure our car insurance customers* continue to be covered when they are participating in volunteer fire fighting activities.
Our customers who carry out this outstanding community service deserve to be recognised and to have peace of mind knowing that their insurance will be there to protect them.
*Note this applies only to vehicles insured under comprehensive cover or third party, fire and theft cover.
The insured vehicle is covered for fire damage that is a result of the customer driving to the scene, leaving their vehicle at the rural fire brigade depot, or anywhere else that is part of their volunteer activities.”
Suncorp telephone number – 13 11 55
Rural Operations in Kedron have let us know in writing that - “….I can confirm that volunteers are covered through insurance policies held by QFRS in the event that they do not have their own insurance. As outlined in the brigade business rule D7.20 our volunteers can make application through their Area Office and must include written quotes for repair or replacement. “
“…I do know that each claim is assessed on a case by case basis as with any insurance claim. Market value, again as with any insurance, is the starting point for any assessment of a claim.”
The QFRS insurer is Lumley General Insurance Limited as outlined in the Brigade Manual.
The RFBAQ again stresses that you should contact your insurer to confirm that the policy that you have meets your individual needs.
The Brigade Manual section D7.20:
Emails that have been received by the RFBAQ from Insurers and Rural Operations in relation to this matter have been logged in the correspondence register of the Association.