All too often Kiwis complain that they have to pay their excess when they weren't at fault. But that's how insurance works. No refund unless the insurance company can recover its costs.

Uninsured drivers sometimes spend decades paying back debts after causing accidents. IAG, for example, has third parties still paying off debts from as far back as 1997, says Judith Harvey, the company's private motor vehicle insurance manager.

Sometimes innocent drivers never get their excess back. In one case dealt with by Karen Stevens, Insurance & Financial Services ombudsman, an innocent driver found himself paying out in a