View Comments
Insurance companies are confiscating written-off cars, leaving motorists stranded.
WA News / Michael Wilson Insurance companies are confiscating written-off cars, leaving motorists stranded.

Some storm-damaged cars are being instantly confiscated once their insurance companies deem them a write-off, leaving angry motorists stranded at assessment centres.

RAC members complained that their cars were taken at centres yesterday after assessors said the owners were not legally allowed to drive them.

Insurance company AAMI also said its policy was to secure written-off cars immediately.

Adding to the confusion, other insurance companies gave drivers up to a week to surrender their written-off vehicles.

The Department of Transport will meet industry players today to clear up widespread confusion about when written-off cars must be handed in.

There is discretion in the Act with unsafe vehicles to be surrendered almost immediately and cars deemed to be repairable write-offs, which are not a safety hazard, allowed to stay on the road for a week.

An angry RAC motorist complained yesterday about being left without transport, even though damage to her vehicle was superficial and could not be deemed a safety hazard.

She said an assessor told her she could not drive the car because it would no longer be insured but RAC has confirmed this advice was wrong.

Written-off vehicles remain insured until formally deregistered by the Department of Transport up to a week later.

The RAC did not deny that some cars had been automatically confiscated but said the company's policy was to give motorists a choice to drive them for a further seven days if the car was safe.

HBF and SGIO said decisions about when to take cars were being made on an individual basis.

"We can arrange for them to drop it off at a future date when we will take the car and give them a cheque," HBF spokesman Andrew Walton said.

A car is deemed a write-off when it is more expensive to repair than it is worth.