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Suncorp must pay uninsured driver after collision with ambulance

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An uninsured driver whose vehicle was in collision with an ambulance will receive up to $15,000 after the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) found in his favour.

The complainant was turning right off a narrow Queensland road with a single lane in each direction, when an overtaking ambulance crashed into his vehicle.

He put in a claim with Suncorp, which insured the ambulance, but it was denied because the insurer did not accept the ambulance driver was at fault.

Some details of the collision were disputed. The complainant says the ambulance was travelling at 100kph, but the ambulance driver says she was driving at 70kph. The speed limit on that road is 60kph.

She believed the right lane was “clear to overtake” and says she did not see the complainant’s right indicator. Her partner says the indicator was on, but “was turned on quite late”.

The complainant says he turned on the indicator at least 50 metres before he turned, and that the ambulance siren was not on.

Suncorp “has not said” whether the siren was on but says the ambulance was displaying flashing lights.

“There is no dispute that the complainant’s right indicator was on, but the ambulance driver did not notice it,” the AFCA ruling says.

“This suggests the ambulance driver was not paying sufficient attention to the complainant’s vehicle as she approached it from behind.”

Suncorp notes that the driver of an emergency vehicle is exempt from road rules if they are taking reasonable care.

But AFCA says the driver was not taking reasonable care, and that “on the balance of probabilities” she caused the collision.

“She attempted an unsafe overtaking manoeuvre across unbroken double lines, while speeding, and failed to notice the complainant’s right indicator,” it says.

AFCA can award up to $15,000 to the owner of an uninsured vehicle for direct financial loss.

“Upon receipt of suitable evidence, the insurer must pay for the complainant’s direct financial loss resulting from the collision, up to a maximum of $15,000,” it says.