A customer seeks compensation for damage to her car after power equipment sparks above it (May 2016)

Meters, poles, wires and pipes
Case Number 2016/3790
Outcome Conciliation

The Issue

Ms B's car was damaged when nearby power equipment sparked, resulting in a $1,700 repair bill. She contacted the electricity distributor responsible for it, and it provided her with a claim form. The electricity distributor later refused Ms B's claim, saying the fault was caused by a bird flying into the power equipment, and it cannot be held responsible for such incidents.

Dissatisfied with the distributor's response, Ms B contacted EWOV. We immediately raised an Assisted Referral, where we ask a higher-level contact at the distributor to look into the complaint. However, the distributor asked EWOV to start an Investigation because it had already spoken to Ms B several times and was unable to reach a resolution.

The Investigation

EWOV began by asking the distributor to give us a summary of its own investigation into the matter, evidence of the ways in which it had complied with relevant laws and codes, as well as its suggestions for a resolution. It told us that it sent a crew to the incident site to repair the fault, and after talking to Ms B, it provided her with a claims form. It later refused the claim as it believed that it had not contributed to the damage and that the event was beyond its control. The distributor stated that it was therefore not liable for damage to Ms B’s car.

Next, we contacted Ms B by phone to get her side of the story. She told us that following a loud explosion and sparking of the network asset, the distributor came to the site to fix the fault, and took photos of the damaged asset and her car. There was a dead bird that was badly burnt lying in the gutter, which a neighbour removed before the distributor arrived — but she believed the neighbour told it about the bird. She told us that she did not think the bird was proof that the fault was caused by a bird. Ms B forwarded a claims form to the distributor, which was refused as these types of issues are commonly caused by birds and possums.

Ms B gave EWOV a copy of the car repair quote, confirming the cost of repairs was $1,700. We asked her if she had insurance that would cover the damage, which she did. We told Ms B that it would be reasonable to make a claim through her insurer first, and then request the distributor cover the cost of the excess fee, and she agreed to look into it.

The Outcome

Mrs B contacted EWOV and told us that her insurance company covered the cost of repairs to her car, that no excess would apply to her claim, and that it would pursue the distributor for costs independently. Mrs was satisfied with this outcome, and the case was closed.

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