How can I dispute responsibility for damage?

When you are held responsible for damage, it can be a stressful and upsetting time. People don’t expect an accident to happen, and when it does, it is common to feel like the situation or the rules are unfair and you should not be held responsible.

If you have been notified that you are responsible for damage, and you want to dispute it, there are a few things to do first.

  • Make sure that you have read and understood how the insurance works, the exclusions from cover, the Damage Policy and the other articles in this section about responsibility for damage (linked at the bottom of this article).  
  • Read through the list of common reasons for disputing responsibility (below). If your reason is on the list, we will not be able to enter into any further discussion about it.
  • Write a brief, clear email setting out the reason why you believe that there has been an error in the application of the rules in your case.

Your email will be reviewed the case manager and, if required, a senior team member. If after that review you believe that the dispute has not been resolved, you can ask for it to be escalated to Car Next Door’s Internal Dispute Review committee, made up of a group senior managers. If you are still unsatisfied after that review, the next step is to take the dispute to an external body (such as a tribunal or mediation service in your State) to help resolve it.

Common reasons for disputing responsibility for damage

The following are some examples of reasons that members commonly put forward to dispute their responsibility for damage. We have considered these objections carefully and have found that, for the reasons set out below, they do not excuse members from their responsibility.

So that our team can focus on resolving claims quickly and efficiently, we won’t be able to enter into discussions about disputes based on any of these reasons.

I am absolutely sure that the car was not damaged during my trip.
It is hard to be held responsible for something that you are really sure you didn’t do. However, as a large and busy community of car-sharers, we need to rely on clear, documented photographic evidence, rather than people’s word. This doesn’t mean that we don’t trust or respect you - it is just the only practicable way to run a neighbour-to-neighbour car-sharing platform.
I am a good and honest person, and if I damaged the car I would have said so.
We know that our members are all good people - that is why we have welcomed you into our car-sharing community! However, as a large and busy community of car-sharers, we need to rely on clear documented evidence rather than people’s word, or even their good reputation. This doesn’t mean that we don’t trust or respect you - it is just the only practicable way to run a neighbour-to-neighbour car-sharing platform.
The car was damaged by a passing driver / vandal / storm and it wasn’t my fault
Under the Member Agreement and Damage Policy, you are responsible for any damage that happens to the car from the time you pick it up until the time you drop it back. This includes damage that is not your fault (like a branch falling on the car) and damage that is someone else’s fault (like a passing driver scratching the car). If you get the details of the person at fault and our insurer can get them to pay for repairs, then you won't need to pay anything. See the section titled ‘Who is responsible for damage?’ in the Damage Policy.
You never told me I was supposed to take photos
We remind you in several email and SMS messages in the lead up to, during, and after your trip, and in the app or website during the trip:
  • Email and SMS 15 minutes before your trip starts
  • In the app or website during your trip (screenshots below)
  • Email and SMS 5 minutes after your trip starts, if you haven't uploaded photos
  • SMS 30 minutes before your trip ends
  • Email and SMS 5 minutes after your trip ends, if you haven't uploaded photos
  • Email one day after your trip ends

In the app during your trip:

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My phone was out of battery / my camera was broken
The requirement to take photos is central to the Car Next Door community’s system of sharing, and so it is your responsibility to ensure that you have a way to take the photos at the start and end of your trip.
I have CCTV footage / eyewitnesses / other evidence to say that I didn’t damage the car.
With thousands of trips taken every week, our community could not function if our damage case managers had to review external evidence presented by members in different situations. This is why we have one clear, simple and firm system for collecting and storing photographic evidence of each car’s condition before and after every trip, and determining responsibility on that basis.
I have the photos, I just didn’t upload them.
The requirement to take photos and the requirement to upload them go hand in hand. To ensure that the photos are a true and accurate record of the car before and after the trip, they need to be uploaded within 48 hours so that they become part of the the car’s ongoing condition record. This requirement is set out in the Damage Policy (see the section titled “Checking for Damage - Owners’ and Borrowers’ responsibilities’)
I wasn’t driving the car, it was my friend / flatmate / ex / unknown person.
Under the Member Agreement, you are responsible for anything that happens to the car when it is booked under your account. If another person drove the car, with or without permission, you are still responsible. You may be able to recover the costs from that person directly, but this would be separate to your responsibility to pay the costs to the car owner and Car Next Door.
I didn’t book the car, my account must have been hacked / my ID stolen.
Under the Member Agreement, you are responsible for anything that happens to the car when it is booked under your account. If another person used your account to book the car, with or without permission, you are still responsible. However, if you believe that your account has been compromised you should let us know immediately so that we can investigate and prevent any further misuse. You may be able to recover the costs from that person directly, but this would be separate to your responsibility to pay the costs to the car owner and Car Next Door.
The terms of your membership agreement are unfair and they conflict with my basic legal / consumer rights. It should be the Owner who has to prove I damaged the car, not me who has to prove I didn’t.
Our terms of use (including the Member Agreement and Damage Policy) have been reviewed to ensure compliance with Australian laws and consumer law. The system that we have put in place, where each Borrower is responsible for photographing the car and uploading those photos before and after each trip, is a fair and reasonable (and legally valid) way to manage a car-sharing community where private owners trust thousands of other members to borrow their car.
It was nighttime/raining/other adverse conditions, so I didn’t take any photos because they wouldn’t have been useful
The requirement to take photos is central to the Car Next Door community’s system of sharing no matter the conditions you take the photos in. Even if it is dark, raining or you don’t think the photos will be useful, we can often get enough information from them to resolve a claim (especially with lighting from the flash), so it is important to take photos every time you start or end a trip.
I was already cleared of responsibility for damage to this car
You may have been contacted in the past with regard to a different incident of damage to the same vehicle. Please carefully check the time and date of the damage incident in any previous correspondence that you received, and confirm that it is the same as the incident that we are now contacting you about.
I uploaded photos but they happened to not include the part of the car that was damaged
Your responsibility is to photograph all surfaces and the interior of the car. While we are not accusing you of any wrongdoing, as you can imagine, if someone did cause damage they would be motivated to skip that area of the car in their photos. This is why we have a clear, simple and firm rule that the photographs have to show every part of the car in order to clear a member of responsibility.
I tried uploading the photos but there was an error with your app
If for any reason there is a problem with the upload function (either on Car Next Door’s side or on yours), you are required to email them to us. This instruction is given in the email you received 15 minutes before your trip started and in the Help Centre.
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