Car Insurance In Spain, a look at claims behind the scenes.
Turner Insurance News • Nov 1, 2020
Car Insurance in Spain for expats
ow familiar are you with road traffic insurance claims in Spain? The following article aims to give a basic insight into what goes on behind the scenes between insurers if you have a road traffic accident in Spain as there is a system in place in Spain, unlike any other country I have come across. It enables Spanish insurers to settle claims very quickly, so authorisation can be given to the garage within days to start repairing your car and it all starts with the completing of the Amicable Accident Declaration form you receive with your policy. You can download a copy of these in English and Spanish at this link. We recommend everyone has both, they are identical, so you can use the UK version as a translation as you would normally fill in the Spanish one at the side of the road. This document tells the insurers exactly what happened, when and where, if you are not aware of what you are filling out, you might be confirming the accident was your fault. Once this form is filled out and signed by both parties, it cannot be altered also, you can write any comments underneath in English if need be.
Agreements between Spanish insurers
Spain has a completely different way of processing road traffic accident claims, it is not something I have come across in other countries, that being said, my experience with insurance abroad is limited. It is not a very well-known agreement, we have never encountered someone who has not had a road traffic accident in Spain with knowledge of this agreement. This is something everyone should be aware of in my opinion as it can affect the outcome of claims.
Spain´s agreement between insurers is intended to facilitate the speed of third-party claims so that the customer´s claim is dealt with as quickly as possible. These agreements started in the 80´s, as of 1960 the amount of vehicle on the road in Spain increased dramatically, as you can imagine so did the claims. in this official Police report from 1960 you can see there were 1.162 road traffic deaths, by 1989 there was a peak of 9.344 death and the insurers were getting to a point that they could not handle the workload involving processing so many claims. As a comparison, in 2019 there were 1.098 deaths.
As a result of this unsustainable workload, 80 insurers got together and worked out an agreement for processing claims called CICOS, (Centro Informático de Compensación de Siniestros). It is an information network via which insurers could communicate facilitating faster processing of car insurance claims. Entering the agreement was voluntary, however, it had been proved to be so efficient, the Spanish government passed a law making it obligatory for all insurers as of the 01/07/2016. You can see the list of the insurers that adhere to the CICOS agreement here.
Claims for road traffic accidents with Spanish registered vehicles insured by Spanish insurers that fell under the CICOS agreement, with the standardised European Accident Declaration form completed by both parties, were broken down into 3 types, CIDE (Direct Payment Agreement), ASCIDE (Supplementary Direct Payment Agreement), SDM (Material Damage claims). CIDE and ASCIDE claims are dealt with via the CICOS agreement, SDM claims via a separate agreement. Today up to 70% of all claims are dealt with via the CICOS agreement.
For a CICOS claim to be processed the following must apply:
The accident must have taken place in the EU or a country that adheres to the Green Card convention
An accident form must be completed and signed by both parties.
A direct collision between only 2 vehicles must have taken place
Both vehicles must be Spanish registered and insured via a Spanish insurer.
For an SDM claim to be processed the following must apply:
Claims involving more than 2 vehicles
Claims without a direct impact
Claims involving damage caused by cargo
Claims for material damages not relating to vehicles
As most road traffic accidents are with only 2 vehicles involved, I will just concentrate on CICOS claims in this article as it is the most noteworthy.
How do they help me?
As I mentioned previously, these platforms facilitate the fast processing of claims. Within the agreement, they establish the average cost of the damages caused to a third party when two vehicles are involved, currently around 900€. This amount is revised and historically has been increased slightly each year. What happens next is the interesting part, once we have the conformation the other party accepts the liability, your insurer pays all of your repairs, even the total loss value if your car is a total loss. So as soon as the CICOS system confirms the other party accepts fault, your insurer pays your damages immediately, as in most claims the damages are mostly repair work, authorisation can be given to the garage by your insurer to proceed with the agreed work and invoice them, in some cases this can be done within a week of us receiving your accident form.
When you bring in the signed completed accident declaration form to us showing the other party is at fault and it falls under the CICOS platform, as your agent we open the claim via the insurers’ online system, we confirm the date, time, location, declaring what boxes are ticked, what comments are on the form etc. The insurers’ system sends the claim to the other parties insurer via the CICOS platform and the other insurer has deadlines to respond to the claim, failing to do so means automatic acceptance of the claim, these time scales are:
To refuse the claim as the policy is no longer active – 3 days
To respond confirming they have no record of the claim – 9 days
- To respond once they have received a copy of the accident form – 7 days
To respond and dispute the claim – 15 days
As agents this makes out life a lot easier, most claims against third parties in CICOS are accepted within a week, if within the 3 days they respond confirming they do not insure that vehicle, the insurer can then contact FIVA who holds the database of all insured vehicles. FIVA are usually very quick to advise who the current insurer is, sometimes we have experienced delays that end, maybe 3 or 4 days if they are overloaded. Once they have the information about the insurer from FIVA, (click here to see full information about FIVA in English) they can then send them the claim and the above clock is reset for the new insurer receiving the claim.
We rarely get a claim that is refused due to the insurer not covering the vehicle, however, it has happened, if the other party has changed insurers and does not have the up to date receipt in the vehicle, you may have taken down the previous insurance details, it could be the case that the other party has not renewed his policy and is driving without insurance. It is not obligatory to carry proof of insurance in Spain anymore, the authorities can check on the national database to verify the existence of insurance, so in the event the other party does not have proof of insurance, don’t panic, we just need the registration number on the accident form filled out and we can contact FIVA to see who the insurer is.
We do get many claims that once sent to the other parties insurer, get the “we have no record of the claim” response, they tend to respond with this within a day or two, however they have 9 days to respond. If this happens then the insurer contacts their client and asks them to confirm their version of the events, once they receive their clients’ version, if they see their client is at fault they will confirm acceptance, if they do not they will refuse the claim and try and claim against your insurer. Best case scenario is having the claim accepted the same day we open it, worst case scenario tends to be 3 or 4 days wait to get told they have no record, then 15 days wait till acceptance. If we have a claim that does not fall under the CICOS agreement, best-case scenarios tend to be a month, as there is no agreement on how much they would pay outside CICOS, it is not just accepting liability, assessors reports, repair invoices have to be presented and accepted, 2 months is probably the average.
In the event the other party does not have a valid insurance policy, your insurer will notify the Consorcio de Compensacion del Seguros (click here for full information about the Consorcio in English) the Consorcio gives cover in the event a non-insured Spanish registered vehicle is involved in an accident, the Consorcio will assign their own assessor and cover the damages. Subsequently, the Consorcio will contact the owner of the uninsured vehicle and request reimbursement of their costs the owner would also get a fine for owning an uninsured vehicle.
How is ‘fault’ established and what should I do?
As the Accident Declaration Form suggest, you do not need to argue or even establish who is at fault at the side of the road, you just need to complete the accident form with as much information as possible about how it happened, where, when, what exact time, witnesses, draw the end position of vehicles after the accident, including any information about road signs, traffic lights or anything else relevant. With this information the insurer can then establish who is at fault, this may seem crazy but there are traffic rules many are unaware or have forgotten, such as in the event of an un-marked crossroad you always give way to the right, if you are on the inside lane on a roundabout and there is someone on the outside lane, do not assume they will leave the roundabout, they have the right to go round the roundabout in the outside lane, so if you change lane the accident is your fault. If you open a door when a car passes, it is your fault, if the door is opened already and someone hits it, it is their fault. The best bet is to just fill in all the relevant information and let us deal with it, we are here to fight your corner. Photographs of the road and junctions can help too in some cases. Please remember, if you take a photograph of someone’s number plate this is considered personal information, forwarding it to third parties other than insurance agents or companies, or publishing it on social media is against the data protection laws.
Once you have sent us your accident form we will let you know how to proceed, at some stage we will have to arrange for an assessment of the damage to your vehicle to establish the repair costs, once we have the confirmation from the other party we will give authorisation to the garage to start with the repairs and invoice the insurer directly, so you do not have to pay. We do also include 30 days courtesy car for accidents from day one on your car insurance policy, so we aim to inconvenience you as little as possible during this process. Hopefully, you will never get to experience this first-hand but if you do, this gives you an idea on what to expect. I hope you have enjoyed reading this article, please leave any comments or reviews on our page.