Home / Daily / Woman wins dispute in contaminated diesel fuel case
8 October 2020
A Ford driver whose diesel engine failed due to fuel contamination has won a claim dispute with Suncorp.
The woman filled her tank in September last year. She kept a fuel docket for the purchase, which confirmed diesel was the item paid for.
She then travelled more than 400km over 11 days until the car broke down and was towed to a Ford dealer, who found petrol in the fuel system and no compression in 4 of 5 cylinders in the engine.
“I was phoned later that morning and was told the mechanic believes the car was fuelled with unleaded fuel because they thought they could smell it and that they would begin cleaning out the system,” the woman said.
The Ford repairer detected heavy scoring and damage to the piston rings and ultimately said a new long engine and associated parts were required, and testing of the injectors.
The woman was charged $15,000 for a new engine.
Suncorp denied the woman’s insurance claim, saying incorrect fuel use was not covered. The policy had general exclusions for incorrect fuel usage and loss or damage caused by the incorrect type of fuel being used.
The Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) determined that while there was petrol contamination, Suncorp was not entitled to deny the claim for incorrect fuel usage.
The contamination resulted in accidental damage, AFCA said, and accidental damage was covered under the policy.
AFCA directed Suncorp to pay the woman the cost of the engine repairs.
“The policy excludes the use of the incorrect fuel. An example of this would be if the woman fuelled the car with petrol. There is no information that shows she did and indeed the receipt shows it was fuelled with the correct fuel, diesel,” AFCA said.
“I am satisfied that the damage to the motor vehicle occurred by chance, accident or unexpectedly,” the ombudsman said.
“A fair interpretation is that the engine was damaged accidentally by contaminated fuel,” AFCA’s ruling says. “The policy does not exclude contaminated fuel.”
See the full ruling here.