Should I File a Car Insurance Claim?Posted on Nov 29, 2017
Most of the time, if you have a car accident, you should file an insurance claim to help pay for the costs of repairs. There are some occasions, though, when it might not be in your best interest to file a claim with your insurer, like those mentioned below.
The Damages in a Single Car Accident Do Not Exceed the Deductible
Unless the accident caused damage to the property of someone else, this is perhaps the one time when you absolutely do not want to file an auto insurance claim. You’ll receive no benefit from doing so, as you will still be responsible for the full costs of repairs to your vehicle.
In other words, you’ll save no money by filing a claim, and it could result in an increase in your rates in the future. Even if the costs do exceed your deductible, you’ll want to consider how much. If it’s a couple of hundred dollars or less, you’re still probably better off paying for it yourself to keep your rates down over the years.
While filing a claim does not guarantee that your insurance rates will increase, it increases the odds that this will happen. According to Time, a single accident can cause premium increases on average of 41 percent with increases as much as 76 percent in some states. The more often you file claims, the higher the odds are that your premiums will increase.
Damage Occurs to Your Car That You Can Cover on Your Own
In this case, damage occurs from something other than collision. For instance, a severe storm causes a heavy limb to fall on your car knocking out a headlight, or a hailstorm causes no damage to the body of your vehicle but knocks out a windshield.
If you can afford to cover the costs of these damages yourself, it is often best to cover them out of pocket rather than risking insurance premium increases over the course of the next several years.
Times When Filing a Claim is Essential
There are some occasions when it is critical to file a claim – even if you think, at the time, it might not be. If another car is involved in the accident, go ahead and file the claim. Even if the other driver initially agrees to cover your damages, it is better to protect yourself by filing a claim while all the details of the accident are fresh in your memory.
You never know when an injury will present days, weeks, or months after the accident that you could be on the hook for, financially. If you didn’t file a claim immediately, it could cause problems when the claim arises later.
You should also consider filing a claim for accidents if you have accident forgiveness and there is more damage (or the potential for injuries) than you are comfortable covering out of pocket.
If you have accident forgiveness as part of your insurance coverage and you are not accident prone, you might want to consider reporting accidents that exceed the value of your deductible. This ensures you get the repairs you need to keep your car in tip-top shape without worrying about budgetary constraints. On the other hand, if you tend to have a few accidents, you might want to skip reporting small fender benders and reserve claims for accidents that pack a more powerful financial punch.
During widespread geographic damage, such as floods from hurricanes, large wildfires, and other events that impact a lot of drivers and cars, it is better to get your claim in as early as possible so that you aren’t waiting months (in some cases) for your claim to make it across an overburdened adjustor’s desk.
Auto insurance is something you buy hoping you never need to use it. When you have catastrophic accidents or suffer injuries as a result, it can be the difference between getting through it and suffering certain financial loss.