Video reveals scary $6m ‘Aussie’ problem

 

KATE O'Connell was driving to the Western Australian capital when a terrifying collision left her shaken - and out of pocket.

The incident occurred two years ago when Miss O'Connell was just 23.

She was heading down the Albany highway, around 75km from Perth, when she hit a kangaroo that had jumped across her path "out of nowhere".

The incident was captured by her dashcam, and the short clip plus photos of her badly damaged car taken shortly afterwards reveal just how sudden - and terrifying - a kangaroo collision can be.

"It came from the right side of the road, and I didn't even see it," she told news.com.au.

"I just hit it - I had no time to think, but my dad always drilled into my head not to swerve.

"I was so upset I called him in tears. It was so horrible, and I was so angry because my car was my baby."

The vehicle was damaged in the incident, and Miss O'Connell was faced with an "absolutely ridiculous" excess of $1100.

Kate O'Connell was shaken and left ‘in tears’ after colliding with a kangaroo two years ago. Picture: Supplied
Kate O'Connell was shaken and left ‘in tears’ after colliding with a kangaroo two years ago. Picture: Supplied

She said kangaroo collisions were a "typical" problem affecting many Australian motorists, and her tow-truck driver father had helped countless people in the same situation over the years.

But she said many drivers who had the misfortune of hitting kangaroos or other animals were being unfairly punished by insurance companies.

"It's especially common on country roads, and it gets worse around summer when kangaroos are looking for water," she said.

"If you swerve you can end up in a worse situation, so you have to pick one of two evils - hitting one puts yourself at less risk."

But now, Huddle Insurance has introduced the country's first product to fully cover drivers in the event of that uniquely Australian problem.

The company's "Kanga Cover" add-on to comprehensive car insurance fully covers drivers in the event of a collision with a kangaroo or other animal, meaning they have no excess to pay, with customers able to claim one collision per year.

Huddle co-founder and joint CEO Jonathan Buck told news.com.au the new policy was introduced after the company conducted a "Roo Report", which revealed more than 7000 Aussie drivers made insurance claims relating to kangaroo collisions per year.

It was the first time Miss O'Connell had hit a roo — although she has been a passenger in plenty of other cars that have also collided with the animals. Picture: Supplied
It was the first time Miss O'Connell had hit a roo — although she has been a passenger in plenty of other cars that have also collided with the animals. Picture: Supplied

It found the problem was costing motorists a total annual average of more than $6 million in excess on insurance claims, and hitting a roo was a serious concern for 79 per cent of us.

Mr Buck said drivers were sick of being penalised by insurance companies for "living in Australia", given there was usually little that could be done to avoid a kangaroo accident.

"There are 20 (kangaroo) claims per day on average in Australia, and there's usually little you can do about it - it just jumps out and you have no choice but to hit it, and yet the norm in the insurance industry is to place the driver at fault," he said.

"Our member council told us resoundingly the idea of having to pay that excess seemed unfair, so we looked at how we could solve this problem."

The report also found the average cost of damage to a vehicle after a kangaroo collision was $4000, although 15 per cent of vehicles are written off.

You're most likely to hit a roo in NSW and least likely in Tasmania, with Queanbeyan, Cessnock West and Mudgee in NSW and Roxburgh Park and Doreen in Victoria our top kangaroo collision hot spots.

The company will also donate $1 from each Kanga Cover optional benefit purchased to the Kangaroo Protection Co-operative to help injured kangaroos.

Continue the conversation @carey_alexis | alexis.carey@news.com.au


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