Run away trolley? Contents insurance could have you covered

Run away shopping trolleys are the cause of about 200 car claims each year, according to research carried out by IAG New Zealand.

In the last five years, 983 Kiwis have claimed for damage to their car caused by an out-of-control shopping trolley, with repair costs peaking at $15,000 for more expensive vehicles.

Robert McDonald said tests carried out by his team at IAG’s Research Centre in Sydney showed that loaded shopping trolleys can pick up speeds of up to 15km/hour.

“Shopping trolley collisions are influenced by the slope of a car park and the weight of a trolley, which can be up to 50 kilograms,” Robert said.

“On average we deal with 197 claims each year that are due to shopping trolley incidents.

“In the year up to 30 June 2015, the average cost of repairs for damage to a car caused by a trolley reached $1,100, although it’s not unusual to have $10,000 to $15,000 worth of repairs on expensive cars due to paint and parts costs.”

Data collected by the insurer between 2010 and 2015 showed that October to January is the time of year when drivers are most at risk of encountering a rogue trolley, possibly because more people are out Christmas or sale shopping.

The data also showed a correlation between busier shopping times and more collisions, with showdowns between trolleys and vehicles happening most frequently on Fridays between 12 midday and 3pm.

AMI claims expert Chris Kiddey said while most people are aware that their car insurance will cover them if a shopping trolley dings their car or they hit another vehicle while manoeuvring, fewer people realise that contents insurance can offer protection in other difficult situations.

“People usually think of contents insurance as what covers their possessions within the home but it may surprise you to know that your contents policy also covers liability in various situations,” Chris said.

“Imagine you’ve just finished the grocery shopping and you reverse your car out of the car park, and crunch… you run into someone else’s car.

“Simple solution: call your car insurer and they’ll fix your own damage and just as importantly, they’ll take care of any liability (i.e. your legal financial responsibility) for damage to the other car as well, which can sometimes be the really expensive bit.

“But now imagine you’re only on your way to your car, you’re fishing for your keys and you let the shopping trolley go and, again… crunch.

“This time your car insurance can’t help because you weren’t using your car. What do you do? Call your contents insurer.”

Like most other insurers, AMI offers legal liability cover through its contents policy which means policy holders are covered for accidental damage or ‘loss’ to other people’s property occurring anywhere in New Zealand.

‘Loss’ is defined as ‘physical loss or physical damage’. Chris said that while there will be exceptions; there is one important thing to remember:

“If you’re going about your day and you negligently cause damage to someone else’s property, you may be able to claim with your contents insurer to cover the costs that you become legally responsible for.’

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