3 Times You Shouldn’t File a Car Insurance Claim


It's common wisdom that one of the first steps after an accident is to get a hold of your insurance company. But are there exceptions to that rule? More importantly, what will a claim do to your insurance rate?

10 min read
Got a claim? Compare hundreds of car insurance quotes instantly! →

Sometimes, after a car accident, it’s obvious that you’ll want to get ahold of your insurance company as quickly as possible. Major damage has been done, or someone is hurt. But the truth is, not all of the 10 million car collisions that happen annually are serious—in fact, the vast majority of them are non-fatal. That means that tens of thousands of folks are inconvenienced on a daily basis by a minor accident.

Of the 10 million car accidents that happen annually, most are not fatal.

Chances are, you’ve likely had someone offer to pay you out of pocket post-fender bender, or maybe you’ve even been the person begging proposing to avoid getting insurance involved. Quoted wanted to know: Is this ever a good idea? Are there some cases in which the possible rate increase might not be worth telling your insurance company about your accident over? As usual, we headed to the experts. Here’s what we found about when to file a car insurance claim—and when to keep mum.

First, a few Post-Accident Reminders

We have a longer post on what to do after a car accident that’s worth checking out, but for this post, we spoke with Christin Wiley, a personal risk advisor based in Tennessee, about the few things she always reminds her clients are critical financially after an accident.

“A couple little tips I tell my clients about filing accidents: First of all, I always suggest attempting to file a police report or an incident report, so that the other party won’t be able to come back after the fact and try to twist the truth (I’ve seen that done all too many times). Second, I tell people to never discuss the details of the accident with anyone but the police and insurance company. It’s up to the police and insurance adjustors to determine the fault of the accident, not you. I have heard of too many people saying, “Wow, I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to do X…”

Sound advice: Get the police and your insurance involved, and keep your mouth shut. But, Wiley adds, this isn’t always necessary, depending on the accident.

…And One Giant Disclaimer

Wiley says she always tells her clients the same thing: Check your insurance policy documents. “Many insurance policies state that you must notify the insurance company of anything that might lead to a potential claim. Also, there are many different state and insurance company specific time limits to filing a claim; so, always know of any applicable time limits.”

And of course, if anyone is even remotely injured, always file a claim. More on that below.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, though:

3 Times it Makes Sense Not to Involve Your Insurance Company

To call your insurer, or not?
To call your insurer, or not?

1.) It was a one-car accident and you’re not injured, or if you are, you’re able to pay for your medical expenses yourself.

2.) You can afford to pay for the costs of damage to your vehicle—or the costs of the repair are close to or not much over the cost of your deductible.

Joseph Ritter Jr., a Certified Financial Planner based in Florida, once had a little damage done to his own car that ended up costing him much more than he expected. He explains:

“About ten years ago, we were visiting relatives out of town when I noticed that someone had pried the emblem off our car and scratched the paint. Although it was vandalism, I didn’t know where it occurred. Thinking I was protecting myself, I called our insurer. When we got back home, I went to a local body shop, and they gave me an estimate of less than $100 to repair the damage. That little incident stayed with us for 5 years. Even though the claim had no monetary impact, just the fact that we made a claim affected our insurance rates. Most if not all insurers require prompt reporting of claims. However, for minor incidents not involving injury, property damage or when the vehicle is still safe to drive, my advice is to make a police report and obtain an estimate of the damage before contacting the insurer. Just be sure you do it promptly.”

So let’s break down that math:

  • The cost if Joseph had simply gotten it repaired: $100
  • The cost of 5 years of an additional $100 tacked onto each six-month policy for the claim: $1,000

Paul Moyer, an independent insurance agent based in Florida, was a bit more bold in his claim: “There are very many times that filing an auto insurance claim is a bad idea,” Moyer says. “It really has to do with the math of the policy.”

“I just had a client that backed into his own vehicle. He caused $1,500 maximum of damage and $1,200 minimum. His deductible was $1,000 so he had to pay that before the insurance would kick in anything. So his maximum out of pocket would be $500. If he filed the claim his rates would also go up and he would probably end up paying back that amount over about 12-18 months and then just get penalized from there on out. This happens frequently in small accidents where a driver could do much better by just paying out of pocket.

3.) There’s little to no damage to someone else’s vehicle or property.

This one is straightforward: If you happened to kiss a giant SUV and not leave any lipstick, so to speak, you might not need to get insurance involved. But serious smooches (aka actual accidents) require trading of personal details.

And 3 Times When You Need to File an Insurance Claim

Just as there are times it might work in your favor not to involve your car insurance company after a crash, there are times when you really should file a claim:

1) Anyone is injured and your vehicle is involved. If you, passengers in your vehicle, anyone in the other party, or any pedestrians are injured from a crash, you’ll need to file a claim–especially if there’s a good chance you’ll be found at fault. Medical expenses can skyrocket quickly, and not filing a claim can leave you open to litigation. If you wait to get sued before filing a claim your insurer could deny the claim altogether.

2) When fault isn’t so clear. If you’re involved in a crash with another party that results in either property damage or injuries and fault is disputed in any way, you’ll need to file a claim so that your insurer can represent you. Insurance companies deal with insurance companies, and yours and the other party’s will need to figure out who will pay for what amongst themselves.

3) You hit a fixed object, your car is vandalized or damaged without you knowing who did it, or your car sustains weather-related damage and the costs for repairs of your vehicle or your medical expenses are greater than you can afford or want to pay. If you need $20,000 worth of medical attention, you’ve got to file a claim. Likewise, if damage from an uninsured driver, or you hitting a tree, causes significant damage to your vehicle (and you’ve got insurance covering these events), file a claim.

If you’re going to file a claim, it’s best to do so as quickly as possible–at the scene of the wreck, if possible. You can find a list of what info you’ll need to file a claim here. Once your claim is filed, the insurance adjuster will take care of reviewing important materials like the police report, witness accounts, and photos, and they will handle payouts to the other party (if applicable). If you’re the one who needs repairs, the insurance company will work with your repair shop.

And what can you expect from your claims process? J.D. Power surveyed customer satisfaction at top U.S. auto insurance companies—their results here. As for what you can expect from a payout: a 2016 report from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners found that the nationwide average car insurance payout was $841.23 in 2013 (the last year for which data is available), reports The Insurance Information Institute.

The Bottom Line

We think a safe rule of thumb is: When in doubt, involve your insurance company. One claim won’t always set you back either—some auto insurance companies offer accident forgiveness, where the first time you file for a claim, it has zero effect on your rates. But it’s also always good to keep in mind that the whole purpose of car insurance is to protect consumers from potential financial disaster—not a small financial inconvenience.

  • Mia Boyd

    Thanks for the information. I had no idea that you probably shouldn’t file for a car insurance claim for times like getting into a one-car accident and not getting hurt; do you think my insurance agency would be bugged if I even tried to file a claim for something like that? I recently tried to do that, and now I’m wondering if I made a huge mistake. I’ll make sure I contact them and ask them what they think about that. http://agents.allstate.com/krista-l-sanchez-albuquerque-nm.html

  • Lauren Adams

    I really liked how you explained when not to call your car insurance company. As you said, not all accidents require the assistance of your insurance company. Their are some damages that you can repair with your own money. There are even some damages that you can repair by yourself! However, if you call your insurance company, they almost always will raise your monthly premium.

  • Thanks for the question, Ray. Whether you should file a claim or not in this instance depends on what kind of insurance coverage you have. Give one of our agents a call at 1.888.444.8949 and they will be able to advise you based on the details of your situation.

  • johnnyboyjohn

    If you can delay getting in touch with your insurance company, I’d suggest getting an estimate at the body shop FIRST before calling them so you have a good clear indicator of what the TRUE cost of the repair is before they start trying to get you to swallow a dumbed-down version. Many times the insurance company will act along with the body shop to get the cost down and then state if you want the repairs done to make the vehicle like new, the rest of the cost is up to you. My father was a claims adjuster and he said insurance companies do this all of the time, they are PRAYING that you call them first and get an adjuster out ASAP to get a figure on it before going to the body shop. In fact, most body shops WILL NOT give you an estimate if they know an insurance company has already sent the adjuster. Why? Because they won’t get referrals for business if they do and they’ll get squeezed even more by the insurance company. Be smart and realize this: The insurance company is NOT your friend and never will be.

  • The Zebra

    Hi Albert,
    We hope your wife wasn’t hurt! Regarding your question, your specific situation has a few factors, and your current policy details come into play. We’d recommend giving one of our agents a call at 1.888.444.8949 and they should be able to advise you with you a few more details.
    Hope this helps!
    The Zebra Team

  • The Zebra

    Hi Gaylen,
    Feel free to give our agents a call at 1.888.444.8949. They can speak with you about your specific situation and advise whether it’s time to switch insurance, and if so, which companies, coverage, and pricing work best for you. They can also discuss policies and coverage in any state, if or when you decide to move. (See more here: https://www.thezebra.com/car-insurance-companies/)
    Hope this helps!
    The Zebra Team

  • cookies

    I think insurance company’s should have to pay you if you don’t have an accident in a years time. I don’t understand why they get money if you do and money if you don’t get into a accident. They win both ways.

  • Q Z

    18 months ago, I was at a friends’. We were all outside sitting around a fire. After a few drinks, the “friend” goes into his house and returns with a BB gun. My car was parked on the street. A tall hedge obscured the view of the sidewalk, street and my car. My car sustained 3 dents from BBs that had been fired through the hedge.

    – Do I make a claim?
    – How is something like this investigated?
    – WOuld the police be involved?

    • The Zebra

      Hello,
      We’d recommend giving one of our agents a call at 1.888.444.8949 to discuss your specific situation and your coverage. They should be able to advise you once they know your circumstances better.
      Hope it helps,
      The Zebra Team

  • Emily

    I backed up out of a parking lot, looking both ways but did not see anybody. then I tapped someone as I backed out. We switched insurance info even though I had no damages and all they had was a flat tire. Will my insurance go up?

    • The Zebra

      It’s likely that your rate could increase simply due to the fact that they were notified of a claim. If there is little to no pay out then you may not see any impact to your rate but it varies by company so don’t be surprised if you do. When you are notified of an increase then you should consider shopping around to find your best rate with that accident.

      • Emily

        How much would the rate increase?

        • The Zebra

          Every company’s pricing model is different so there is no way to tell unfortunately other than asking your company specifically.

  • Lena Oden

    Today I hit a parked car – and on both cars, the side-mirror was broken (nothing else) We decide not to call the police. It is very clear that this was my fault… For my car, the repair cost are bellow my deductible – so it does not make sense to make a claim. But what is about the damage of the other car? I expect thats the costs of the replacement of the mirror not much higher than the costs for my car – and I should be able to pay it out-of-pocket (both cars are neither luxury nor new). Since I am a “new driver” in the US, my rate is already quite high (I think the repair costs for the other car will be bellow the rates of two month) – so I think it is better to pay both damages out of pocket?

    • Neil Richardson

      If the other driver has the damage on their car estimated and you can afford to cover their vehicle out of pocket then that might be your best bet. Especially considering that the damage to your car is below your deductible, it wouldn’t make sense to file a claim. If the damage to the other vehicle happens to be more extensive than originally thought, though, you will want to contact your insurance company quickly to start the claims process for the other vehicle.

  • zak

    I got into an accident and rear ended my car.
    The passenger of other car got shock in the neck but EMS declared her OK and she signed the disclaimer that she is ok and do not wants to go for further inspection.
    Cops came and make the report, he did not mentioned who is at fault but mentioned that he will make the report so no one have to go to collision center.

    I found out that my license was suspended prior to the collision but I moved and some how minstry did not got my new address so due to unpaid fines it got suspended.

    The officer gave me 2 summon notices one for careless driving and one for driving while on suspension which is i am fighing, the accident was not bad, the other cars little part of bumper get dented and mine have no damage.

    should i contact my insurance company?

    Will my insurance company pay the damages or they will not going to cover it?

    • Neil Richardson

      Zak, based on your situation it sounds like you should definitely contact your insurance company. Whether or not they will cover the damage to your vehicle will be determined based on the coverage you carry on your policy. The damage and possible injury that you caused you should covered under your liability coverage, assuming your policy is active and up to date.

  • Rags Vadla

    hi My windshield was got crack. its more than 12 to 15 inches. its like some object fallen on the windshield when i parked. its brand new Honda CR-V EX 2016 like 5 months back. i checked with Honda they said i need to call insurance, but they said it will cost me $1200 with out insurance with them. Now my deductible are $500 , if i go through insurance will they replace with Original branded windshield from HONDA ? and will my premium will increase..? if they don’t replace with original can i pay out of pocket and then do a post claim with insurance.?

    • Neil Richardson

      If you have comprehensive coverage then you should be able to file a claim to get the windshield replaced through your insurance provider. You will need to check the fine print on your policy or ask a claims rep when you call your company if they will be replacing with OEM parts or if they use aftermarket parts for repairs. Each company is a bit different in that regard, but most standard companies will use OEM replacement parts.

  • Ole Deezy

    I was hit by a motorist on a moped at night that had no lights or reflectors.. my car has some deep scratches to the bare metal and a few dents… should I file a claim or get estimates first.

    • Neil Richardson

      Did you contact the police? Without a police report your claim can take longer since your insurance company may investigate the details. Having a police report tells them most everything they need to know. Getting an estimate will simply give you an idea of the cost of repair but may not speed up the process with your insurance company. It’s probably best to call your company first and let them know what happened and they can direct you from there.

  • Neil Richardson

    The payout that she would receive for her vespa from the insurance company would be based on the actual cash value of the scooter, which includes depreciation. If you had the scooter appraised for $5,000 then she should expect a payout fairly close to that amount. Now, if the $5,000 value is based on nothing but a guess then that amount will have no bearing what is actually paid for the scooter. Given the fact that she was injured and her scooter was damaged, she should absolutely file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company. The other driver could disappear completely and your daughter would be stuck with no payout from anyone. My advice is to file the claim and let the insurance company handle it.

  • Neil Richardson

    It sounds like you should absolutely pursue filing a claim through his auto insurance. Your health coverage may cover the doctor visit but you may be subject to a deductible or co-pay. If you claim your injuries through the driver’s insurance you won’t have to pay a deductible as your medical costs would be covered by the driver’s policy.

  • Neil Richardson

    If there was a police report then that can provide come clarity as to fault. However, the other driver has the option to file a claim through their company and you could be found to have some liability in the accident so you would definitely want to tell them your side of the story. It would be best to contact your company first and let them know about the accident and they can direct you going forward. This can help you avoid a potential lawsuit. Best of luck!

  • Scott Butterfield

    I have a 2001 Nissan Frontier pickup with almost 300,000 miles on it. I carry liability coverage only on it. About 3 months ago I was backing up in a parking lot and my view was obstructed. Although I backed out very slowly, another car came by and scraped up along the back of my bumper, causing about $2000 worth of damage to her car. No more than a scratch to the bumper on my truck. I felt we were both at fault but my insurance company decided I was at fault and paid the claim on my behalf. Unfortunately for me, I backed the same truck into a parked car in another parking lot. This one was of course all my fault. The owner of the car got an estimate of around $1600 for the repairs to her car, and is asking for a rental car for a week while her car is in for repairs. I am wondering if it might be better for me in the long run to pay for this out of my pocket without filing a claim to avoid my insurer dropping me or hitting me with a stiff rate hike. I also insure 3 other cars and a motorcycle with them… Any thoughts or suggestions?

    • Neil Richardson

      If the $1,600 plus the cost of the rental is worth less than the potential increase to your policy then it definitely would be worth paying for the damage out of pocket. If the cost of repair was much more significant then you would be better served just to claim it. You’ll want to weigh the benefits to see what is best for your situation.

      • Scott Butterfield

        Neil, the million dollar questions is, how do I know what the impact on my rates will be if I file the second claim in 3 months. I have not had any other claims or tickets for years but I do have 5 vehicles insured with them so a rate increase over five years time might well outweigh the cost. I wish there was a way to know how much the increase would be before deciding but of course there isn’t…

        • Neil Richardson

          I agree, there’s really no good way to get a firm estimate unless you notify your company, which obviously is what you’re trying to avoid. If it were possible to quote online with your same insurance provider you may be able to get at least some sort of idea on the impact the claim might have. $1,600 over five years is only $320/year or about $26/months. It is likely, especially with as many vehicles as you have currently insured, that your rate will increase by much more than that amount.

  • Mosh Jay

    Today in the morning someone bumped into the side of my car in middle of an intersection as all way stop sign. My passenger door was smashed and her bumper/ hood was smashed. I know I reached the intersection first since I’m always very careful to let others go first if I’m not sure. but she claims she was came first and i did not stop. We did not make a police report. And my NYS inspection is expired and I already got a ticket for it. Any suggestions?

    • Neil Richardson

      Your best bet would be to contact your insurance provider to let them know about the accident. Each situation is unique so they would be able to provide the best guidance for you in this situation.

  • Darzi

    The other night my neighbor with a truck backed into my car. my brother saw the accident happen. there is minor cosmetic damage in two spots and are barely noticeable from far or at night. I asked some repair shops and one gave me a quote of $400 to have all of it repaired. How should I approach my neighbor about this? he seems to be admitting fault. Should i have insurance involved? Thanks

    • Neil Richardson

      With the cost of the repair being so low it is probably feasible for your neighbor to cover the cost. I would discuss the incident with him and let him know you have already gotten an estimate. If he refuses then you can always file a claim through his insurance company or your own if you have the right coverage.

  • kittu usa

    I am backing up my car and i touched the other car no cosmetic damages ,I took a video.But the other party took my insurance and my license picture.They are very old.I asked them if they are ok, they said yes we are fine. i captured there audio and car video.I reported to my car insurance that this incident happened.The car owners checked the car and said everything is ok,What actions will they take as they took my car insurance and driving license picture.

    • Neil Richardson

      You’ve already notified your insurance company of the incident, which was the smart thing to do. As to what actions the other party will take? I assume they will probably wait to hear from your insurance company about having an adjuster look at their car. If you are concerned you should contact you company’s claims department.

      • kittu usa

        thank you for the reply.I checked with them they have created claim file and said if they receive any claim they will update me.But i feel pity when there is no scratch or any cosmetic damage and still need to worry about they claim.

  • Matt Clatworthy

    Hello, I hit a full tire truck tread on the highway and it completely destroyed my bumper… the estimated cost of the repair will be around $2,500 and my deductible is $500 … should I file a claim?

    FYI the car is a 2008 Audi S4

    • Neil Richardson

      Unless you think your rate might increase more than $3,000 over 5 years, it’s probably a good idea to file the claim and pay your deductible.

  • Snootyroo

    I was in stop-and-go traffic this afternoon while it was raining, I was driving a Honda Accord and unbeknownst to me a large white panel van was skidding due to the rain and hit my back bumper. The damage was really not that much just two long mark ‘s about a license length apart. I should mention this is a 1998 Honda Accord so therefore even though it has low mileage is not worth a ton of money. I’m not so much worried about the car as I am me, I have had numerous people hit me over the years in one big accident in 1998 which caused severe injuries for which I am still being treated for. Therefore I have what they call pre-existing injuries. Insurance companies don’t like to pay out when this happens because they cannot differentiate which was pre-existing and which was caused by the accident. This policy is under my mom’s name and I don’t want to report it to the insurance company but at the same time I feel that I should seek some type of medical attention to be checked out. Does anyone have any advice on if I go to the ER how to avoid involving my own personal PIP to State Farm, btw the person who hit me also has State Farm as well. And you face would be greatly appreciated I know if I go into the ER since I can not contact my daughter over the weekend they will definitely apply it to my PIP. The car is also in my mom’s name and I do not want this accident following her on raising her it’s even though I was not at fault. In addition to that since the police came and I didn’t want to go in an ambulance he wrote out a non police report which basically gives both insured information. It didn’t even State what happened in the accident or who was at fault. I don’t want State Farm saying okay you take hear of your car and let them take care of their truck. Any injuries will go against the person who has them. I have been rear-ended before and this is actually happened to me a long time ago. I you know if I change insurance companies just this accident will definitely follow me they don’t care who was at fault they go back like 10 years or something crazy like that. Any advice or expertise on this would be greatly appreciated as I am hurting and need to decide what to do. Thank you in advance for any help you can give me.

    • Neil Richardson

      It will depend on what state you are in. If you live in a “no-fault” state then you would have to claim your injuries through your own company. If you are NOT in a no-fault state then you would file the injury claim against the other driver’s insurance since you were hit from behind. Regardless, most incidents where you are rear-ended would be considered the other driver’s fault and, therefore, shouldn’t negatively impact your rate. Your injuries should be taken seriously and a potential minor rate increase shouldn’t outweigh a potentially dangerous injury.

  • Rebecness

    While driving down the Ohio Toll road in a construction zone, I hit part of a truck tire in r=the road as there was no way to avoid it. I heard a loud thump and did not think too much about it until later when stopped (in WV) and noticed the damage to the bumper and light imbedded in the bumper. I took the car for repair at a dealership authorized to repair that brand with original parts. I was wrestling with whether to claim insurance as the cost of repair was $2,800 and our deductible is $500. I called the insurance company to ask if such an incident occurred would our rates go up. He could/would not answer the question and asked me to file a claim. I assured him it was hypothetical and there was no claim. The car has been repaired for a month now and the insurance company left a message asking for more details — specifically which car — regarding the accident which I never actually reported. Two questions: Do I have to call them back and tell them about the accident even though we’ve taken care of all repairs out of pocket? If I don’t tell them, can they run the VIN and find out that the car was repaired?

    • Neil Richardson

      If you avoid talking to your insurance company after they were made aware of the vehicle damage you could risk having your policy cancelled. If your vehicle was repaired at a reputable shop then they likely listed the repair on your vehicle’s history report. So, in theory, it would be possible to request the vehicle’s history report just like you would when buying a used car. Will they do that? Maybe. Since you already notified them that your car was damaged and they aren’t getting any response from you then they could. Or they may just cancel your policy. Personally, I would avoid getting into a situation where your insurance company has any reason to believe you are being dishonest so contacting them is probably your best bet.

  • Carissa Moye

    I hit a tractor trailer Tire on the I interstate the day before yesterday it has done extensive damage to the front end of my 08 impala. It was after hours so my husband towed it to our house. I have full coverage through Allstate. The insurance is in Our name but the car is registered to my grandmas recently deceased husband she ga e me the car and has to file for a lost title which she is wait I g on so that I can put the car in my name. Can I file a claim?

    • Neil Richardson

      I couldn’t answer with any certainty because there are a lot of variables that could affect whether your company will cover the damage or not. You’re best bet is to contact them directly to see if they will. Sorry to hear about the car :( For any other questions concerning insurance, be sure to check out our Ask an Agent resource here: https://www.thezebra.com/ask/

  • Careless Me

    LEGIT OR UNETHICAL: I backed into my own gate a couple of weeks ago, a new (one year old) leased vehicle. No question it needs to be fixed. My deductible is $500. The best quote I have for repair is $2,000 (actually the dealer quotes are less than the body shops), I pay $1,900 yearly for auto insurance. Insurance agent said my rates could go up anywhere from $400 a year to $1,000 a year — and that she couldn’t get more precise than that. So I have yet to decide whether to go through insurance or not,

    ANYWAY I thought I’d shop rates/agents anyway for the future and maybe find one that would not hike my premiums so much. An old-time insurace agent was recommended and what he said while shopping policies surprised me. He noticed my policy was due for renewal in a few weeks. He said I could switch policies now and THEN file the claim with the old company — and that the claim would not get reported to the new company and impact my premiums.

    At first I was happy but now I am wondering if this is a legal loophole or this guy is unethical and misleading and could get me in trouble. Don’t I have to attest to the car’s accident history with a new company? Or is he implying that because I would not have decided to file the claim when I made the switch that I am not misrepresenting/lying? He said because we are so close to the renewal date I had kind of “lucked out” with the timing.

    It still doesn’t make sense to me and I’ll ask him more questions when he gets me some quotes. I’m wondering your take — legit? slippery slope? outright fraud? i don’t know the guy but he’s a co-worker’s uncle and been in the biz 30 years, Thanks

    • Neil Richardson

      Your first sentence is what the new insurance company cares about most. They will ask about your driving history before they provide a quote since that can have a big impact. Since the accident hasn’t been reported to the insurance company then the agent is right that it won’t show up on any driving reports. However, you are aware that you had an accident and you don’t want to be fraudulent by lying to your new insurance company. It’s best to be honest to avoid any potential issues down the road.

  • Cherie E

    I have full coverage and $1000 deductible. Hit a rock trying to do a 3 point turn and mangled my bumper and bent the water bottle. I called Geico to file a claim (I was traveling and couldn’t get an estimate right away). When I got home a few days later, I went to a body shop and was told it would be $400 to fix the damage (new bumper of course plus labor). I called Geico and told them that I would like to instead just report the incident instead of filing a claim. Should I do anything else? A friend seems to think that I proceed with the claim and I would still just pay $400 out of pocket and if anything else happens, I will only need to pay $600 out of pocket before insurance kicks in. I kinda want to just pay out of pocket, move on and avoid insurance hassle.

    • Neil Richardson

      If you have a $1,000 deductible and the damage is only $400 then your insurance company will not pay for anything since the damage does not exceed your deductible. Filing a claim is a moot point at this juncture since you’ll have to pay for the damage out of pocket.

  • Yayaya

    I backed up and hit a cement cylinder and scatched the back driver side wheel well. Its sounding like the damage to repair the scratch and paint will be around 1500-2000. I full coverage and 500 deductible. Is it best to pay the entire bill, or use my claims forgiveness (first collision at fault covered)? If I use my collision coverage, its a 75% surcharge (meaning it would increase 75%?)… and my insurance would go 1300 to about 2100? I have no idea what best method is…

    • Neil Richardson

      If you have a “forgiveness” option then it would probably be best to use that so your rates aren’t impacted. However, the claim will still be on your record so if you were to switch to another company within the next 3 years then you will be charged for the accident with the new company. It’s really a judgement call when it comes to filing a claim so you’ll have to decide what is best for your current situation

      • Yayaya

        Yeah its either out of pocket or forgiveness. Almost safer to use forgiveness later as it takes 6 years to get it back. Really depends what my final quote is. Thanks

  • Tom

    My wife was backing out of the garage and accidentally ran into my son’s car. Both cars are on the same policy. The car my wife was backing out of the garage only has liability but my son’s car has full coverage. What’s the best way to proceed? Our insurance policy does have accident forgiveness and the damage will probably be +$1000. Damage right front quarter panel and passenger door. Assuming with accident forgiveness, this will not cause our rates to go up but am concerned – we have 4 boys and a total of 6 cars on the policy. And there was no damage to the car my wife was drive – Jeep Cherokee with a solid steel rear bumper…

    • Neil Richardson

      It sounds like your son’s vehicle will be repaired once you pay the deductible. Contact your insurance company and they can direct you through the claims process.

  • Neil Richardson

    If you have comprehensive coverage on your policy then you’re probably fine

  • suemenow

    My neighbors son just backed into my car, a 05 Infinity G 35, damaging the head light and side bumper, both needing to be replaced. He is in the high rate age bracket and asked to get the parts and cover the repair cost himself. I feel OK about it but my friends say to just let the insurers deal with it.

    We did discuss taking it to reputable auto body shop, but am bummed it will get a salvage title. I was just about to put it on the market. What do you think?

    • Neil Richardson

      Unless the damage is extensive, your vehicle is unlikely to wind up with a salvaged title. That’s only the case if the vehicle were considered a “total loss” and it doesn’t sound like your damage is that extensive. You can always get an estimate or 2 before contacting your insurance company to see if the repair costs would be feasible for the other driver, but that doesn’t offer you the same protection and repair guarantees that you get when the repairs are handled by the insurance company. Ultimately it’s up to you to decide what makes the most sense for your situation and whether or not the other party would be financially able to to cover those costs in a reasonably short time frame.

  • Kirsten Flores

    My ex apparently got in an accident over a year ago. My insurance was never contacted at the time of the incident. I was not present in the vehicle, or know of the accident. The other drivers insurance is now telling me I have to pay the damages because the vehicle was under my name. Are they able to make this claim against me?

    • Neil Richardson

      The claim should be filed against the company that was insuring the vehicle at the time of the accident. If that vehicle was covered under your policy at the time then your insurance will have to cover it, but I doubt you’d be required to pay for the repair out of your own pocket.

      • Kirsten Flores

        Since I’ve already sent the name and policy information to their insurance once before and they are still telling me I need to send the information should i resend it again. I’m no longer insured with that company.

        • Neil Richardson

          I would recommend that you contact the insurance company you were with at the time and give them the contact info from the company that is hounding you and let them work it out. That’s the path of least resistance.

  • Dee T.

    I would like to represent myself in a car accident. How would I go about doing this in the state of Florida that has PIP.

    • Neil Richardson

      You would need to speak with your insurance company since they would likely be providing legal representation.

  • bissey

    Here’s my input based on what happened to me very recently:

    I rear-ended someone. No visible damage to their car, lots of damage to my own bumper. I don’t have collision coverage, so since it’s my fault, I pay for my own damages. So why did I call my insurance?

    I was concerned that if I don’t call my insurance and report it, if later on down the road the other party files a claim (idk maybe they say they were injured), my insurance could decline to provide coverage since it wasn’t reported timely. Turns out, this is not the case. They will cover a claim even if you didn’t report the incident AT ALL, even if the claim is filed 1 year later.

    Summary: if you’re at fault in a car incident/accident and think the other party may not file a claim because there’s little to no damage on their car, and your insurance isn’t going to repair your car (lack of collision coverage), don’t call your insurance company because it’s pointless (unless you like paying a higher premium).

    • Shell Bell

      hey bissey, I am in a similar situation. the police ticketed me for failure to yield. My fault but there could be multiple reasons to this but the other party seemed reluctant to call the police at first, but had to since car wouldnt drive,the other party car was wroth around $600. It seemed that he did provide police with liecence etc. Maybe there some other reason where the driver does not want to get involve with insurance. I would prefer to fix my car myself since my deductible is $1000, but im just thinking that if i fix it and then other party files… then at point i would have wasted the money to fix it myself in addition to having my insurance increase my rate.

      So my question is, what if you had fixed your car with your own hard earned cash. Then what would you claim from the Insurance ?

      How should I go about this ? would love to hear your advice

      • bissey

        Just seeing this. Will your cost to fix be less than 1k? If so, do it yourself and hope insurance doesn’t get the word.

  • bj

    Sooo…I didn’t have car insurance and hit a tree…the windshield has a crack…aft I got car insurance I filed a claim…of course the answer is no…what do I do?

    • Neil Richardson

      You’ll have to pay for the damage out of your own pocket, unfortunately.

  • Jana Reed-Marler

    about 5 months ago, i backed up into a pole in a parking garage and scraped the rear-end of my car (minor damage), but noticeable. should i file a comprehensive claim with my auto insurance? not sure how much to fix, but i do have a $500 deductible. thanks.

    • Neil Richardson

      The first thing you have to do is get an estimate for repairs from a body shop. From there you can determine if it makes sense to file a claim or pay for the repairs out of pocket. You’re at a standstill until you find out what the repair costs will be.

      • Jana Reed-Marler

        since the incident happened 5 months ago, is it too late to file a comprehensive claim with my insurance company, should i choose to do so (depending how much the repair costs will be)?

        • Neil Richardson

          More than likely, but you’ll need to consult with your insurance company for a confirmation. And this would not be a comprehensive claim but actually a collision claim since your car was moving when the damage occurred.

  • JS

    I was in a car accident a few years ago. I was hit from behind and it was not my fault. I was injured in the accident and decided to get a lawyer. It has just been settled in my favor and I have been made aware that I can actually pursue money from my own policy because my policy amount was greater than the person that hit me. Will pursuing money from my own policy cause my rates to go up? Note I have dropped the insurance company I had at the time of the accident.

    • Neil Richardson

      There is no guarantee that your rate will stay the same, but it’s highly unlikely to have much, if any, impact.

  • Ashley Vernon

    Someone hit and run my rental car and the cost of damages are less than my deductible. Can I pay it out of pocket although the car is a rental? (Enterprise)

    • Neil Richardson

      You should be able to pay for the damage yourself, but you should contact the rental company to work out the details.

  • Preet Cheema

    I hit someone from back in traffic car was just 20-25mph i break hard n my tyre skids n touch her trailer hitch…there was no scratch on her bumper but she still took my insurance n license…n she called her insurance, her insurance wanna talk to me…what should i do…should i talk to her insurance or mine insurance about this…

    • Neil Richardson

      I definitely would not avoid speaking with her insurance company, but it might be a good idea to contact your insurance carrier first since you will likely be considered at fault for a rear-end accident.

  • Neil Richardson

    It’s very likely that they could, but I’m not familiar with the intricacies of Canadian auto insurance.

  • Neil Richardson

    If you can afford the repairs out of pocket then that’s always your best option, but if your insurance company isn’t going to raise your rates then I don’t see the problem.

  • JonesTown85

    My wife was in a very minor collision the other day were she bumped a vehicle in front of her, both parties pulled over to to inspect damage and trade information. Both parties stated there was no damage to the vehicles. They traded contact information, but the girl didn’t have proof of her insurance so no insurance info was traded. There is no police report and the woman drove off. The next day my wife was contacted by the woman and she was requesting our insurance information. Should we provide the information and if we don’t, could their be a legal issue?

    • Neil Richardson

      Always, always, always take pictures even if there is no damage so you have proof of the incident. I’m not an attorney, but I’ve got to think that it’s a better idea to provide her the insurance info and then contact your carrier to notify them of the incident rather than worry about legal issues.

  • Raj Vishal

    My wife hit her car with a letter box pole outside our house.The car is on lease which is going to expire next month. Estimate of repair is around 2500-3000$ dollars. Our deductible is 500$. Should we file a claim with insurance ? Your suggestion will be appreciated.

    • Neil Richardson

      Your leasing company is going to require that you pay for the damage one way or the other when your lease expires. The easiest way to avoid that is to file a claim with your insurance company and pay your deductible.

  • tyler

    in august of 2015 i backed into a parked car. i did $960 in damage to the other car. my old insurance paid out $43,000 in bodily injury to three people sitting in the car. is there anything i can do to get this off my insurance report. Thanks tyler

    • Neil Richardson

      Other than hiring an attorney to dispute the accident with your old insurance company there isn’t anything you can do other than wait for the incident to pass 3 years.

  • Neil Richardson

    1. The fact that both of your vehicles were involved in the incident has no affect on coverage
    2. The fact that the incident occurred in your driveway will have no affect on coverage
    3. Ice and your driveway have no affect on how your policy pays out.
    4. Since the incident did not happen on a roadway then your license will not be affected. However, the claim will still be listed on your CLUE report which will show up when insurance companies run your driving report. The impact of an accident will vary by company and situation, but here is a link to our State of Car Insurance Report that will show you the average impact of at fault accidents within your state: https://www.thezebra.com/insurance-data/reports/The-Zebra-State-of-Auto-Insurance-Report-2016.pdf

  • Neil Richardson

    If the driver of the other car was considered at fault then they should be covering your injury and damage. I would recommend getting in contact with the other driver so you can contact their insurance provider.

  • Neil Richardson

    If he has already received compensation from an insurance company then he can’t ask you to pay additionally. Your insurance company is supposed to protect you in situations like this so I would recommend contacting your company for assistance.

    • Supriya

      How about as he is saying that he will file a police complain. And also I had provisional driving license + indian driving Lic. at accident time.

      • Neil Richardson

        A provisional license means that you can legally drive so I’m not sure the police can do anything to you. Sounds like he is just blowing smoke.

  • Kim

    A week ago, I had an incident in the parking lot of a plaza and hit the curb, damaging the front bumper of my 2007 volkswagen. To repair the damage, scratch and paint would be around 1800 to 2000 doll. I have full coverage and my deductible is 500 doll (Progressive insurance) but I’m not sure if this incident is going to make my insurance go up forever and will end up paying more over time (this will be my first accident). Should I pay out of pocket? or do you think is a better option to call my insurance? Not sure what to do… my car is still on the shop.

    • Neil Richardson

      It really depends on the state in which you are located, but you can check page 58 of our State of Insurance report for the average difference in price for your state. Keep in mind that the accident will impact your rate for at least 3 years and you will have to pay your deductible. If the total amount is more than your repair bill then I’d probably recommend fixing it yourself. Report: https://www.thezebra.com/insurance-data/reports/The-Zebra-State-of-Auto-Insurance-Report-2016.pdf

      • Kim

        I see that “At Fault Accident” premiums are an average of $2,474. What does this mean for me? I’m in the state of California.
        Is it still a good decision to pay out of pocket if my damages are around 1800-1900?
        Or will it not make sense as the premiums would go up a lot more for the next 3 years?
        Thanks!

        • Neil Richardson

          compare that to the amount listed without any accidents in the first column. The difference should help you determine if it’s worth filing a claim or paying for the damage yourself.

  • Alma Tutich

    it was big rain and i stopped on red light. There was car few feet of like in the middle of highway in front of me and decided to move and was backing up. I was blowing horn but regardless she hit my car. On opposite side was police involved in bigger accident. The guy and lady offered to move of the road. I took picture of drivers license and insurance. she offered to pay and i went today for few estimates. i texted her about that ill go for estimates she texted back ok let me know. now im wondering should i call her insurance and if she tries to say i hit her would town pull camera on traffic light as a proof she hit me? I can see on her licanse she just got license few months ago. Thanks

    • Neil Richardson

      If you and the other party settle the dispute to your satisfaction then you wouldn’t have to contact her insurance company. However, if they aren’t willing to cover all of your repair then I would definitely recommend contacting the other driver’s insurance company or even your own. As for the cameras, you would really have to talk to the city that owns those cameras. It’s possible they weren’t even working at the time. Definitely always recommended that you take pictures of the damage, so goo job on that. There is no harm in getting an estimate, and if they do not want to cover the damage then you can start the claims process. Best of luck!

      • Alma Tutich

        Thanks for reply.aftrr texting back and forth with her and she texting she wants to pay cash I heaven heard from her. I contacted her insurance and it turns out she payed first month till she got I’D and stopped. Her insurance said she is not insurred with them anymore she is also new driver. Estimate for my damage is 850-900. I went to police and I’m writing report but now what? I really want to take her to court so she can not do this to others.i have her Drivers license picture on my phone ..thanks

  • #becausephysicalwoundsheal

    I got in an accident while exiting a private parking area, I hit the car on the tire and apparently the back left strut got bent. The person I hit got a quote comes out to about $400 to replace the strut and do the alignment. We decided to not file a claim or involve our insurance companies. My car was the only one that had cosmetic damages. Any recommendation on if I should still involve the insurance company or just go straight out of pocket.

    • Neil Richardson

      If the damage repairs are only $400 then it’s pretty much a no-brainer that you should pay for it out of pocket. If the repair bill ends up creeping higher and higher then you may considering filing a claim if it’s not feasible to pay out of pocket anymore. Ultimately it’s a judgement call for you.

      • #becausephysicalwoundsheal

        True, its a no brainer. just wanted a second opinion, thanks.

  • ~♥은♫비 ♥~

    Very minor fender bender, backing out of a gas station pump (bad idea, but I wanted to go out a certain exit), girl in a car swung in behind me and tapped the back of the car as I was backing up. No damage to either cars, but she took down my license plate number. Worried that she’ll end up filing a claim even though no damage was done. Should I file a claim? Or just wait and see? (NY)

    • Neil Richardson

      I highly recommend taking pictures any time there is an accident, even if there wasn’t any damage. This way the other person can’t file a fraudulent claim. If neither vehicle is damaged then there wouldn’t be any need to contact your insurance company.

  • Mildred Tuttenbaum

    Someone backed into my daughter’s (covered by my policy) car in a mall parking lot causing damage to her bumper. He waited and took full responsibility. She was contacted by the man’s insurance company and has an appointment today to drop off her car for repair and to pick up a rental. I wanted to ask my insurance company a few questions (regarding the rental car as she is under 25 and should she have been given a choice of repair facility) but they said I have to make a claim even though the other party is taking full responsibility. I ended the call as I am worried her rates will go up if we make a claim. Advice?

    • Neil Richardson

      Your daughter does have the choice of repair facilities, but often times the insurance company will suggest a place to make the process easier. Since the other driver is the one that caused the damage and your daughter’s vehicle was not moving, she won’t be charged with an At Fault accident even if your company initiates the repair process. The will just subrogate with the other driver’s insurance company to recover anything they paid out.

  • Paul

    I managed to rear-end my wife’s car in traffic and she hit the car in front- no injuries- just minor damage to both our cars and minimal to the third party car in front
    Body shop has quoted me approx. $500-$800 to fix the damage on my car, plus $700 for my wife’s
    Trying to calculate the merits of claiming vs. paying out of pocket- our deductible is $500… BUT
    – would we pay the deductible TWICE since we are making two claims
    – would increase in our premium be more than the out of pocket costs? Comparing quotes on this site (one with an at fault claim in past 5 yrs, one without) the difference appears to only be $20 per month…?

    • Neil Richardson

      A few things to consider:

      When you are pushed into a driver in front of you because of a rear-end accident, you will likely be considered at-fault also because you did not leave a safe distance between you and the car in front of you. This incident will probably result in both you and your wife being charged for at-fault accidents and a rate increase.

      The impact to your rate will differ from that of quotes your are receiving online because insurance companies do not charge the same for at-fault accidents. You would need to speak with your specific company to determine the difference in premium for your policy.

      Even if you decided to pay for your damage out of pocket, your insurance company will probably be notified of the incident anyway by the third party when they attempt to file a claim. Unless you are paying for their damage also, it would make the most sense to file a claim with your provider since you’re probably going to see an increase in your rate anyway.

      As for the deductible, it’s likely that you would have to pay both since you and your wife are probably going to be considered liable for the accident. Ultimately it’s going to come down to what your insurance company decides to do, but I would plan for the worst and hope for the best.

  • Monica Rodriguez

    They broke into my car and broke the passenger window. My laptop was also stolen. Should I file a claim?

    • Neil Richardson

      You would need to file a claim for your laptop with your home or renters insurance company. Your auto policy does not cover any personal items, unfortunately.

  • deborah

    I caught the corner of a car in a parking lot. I did leave a note and the person contacted me. The damage was minimal should I notify my insurance? The person keeps calling for my information. Should I say Im uninsured? I just started the policy 3 days before the accident

    • Neil Richardson

      If you work out an agreement with the other party about paying for the damage out of pocket then that is definitely an option. If the cost to repair the vehicle is too much to afford then you would want to start the claims process with your insurance provider.

      • deborah

        Thank you

  • f00

    I have the front passenger, side/vent glass broken while the car was in the parking lot. Don’t know who did it. Would this be covered by the insurance? or would it need to use the detectable? Thank you

  • Phyllis Rojem Christiano

    Got into a fender bender last week. SUV I hit had minor damage-$800 estimate. Mine totaled, more damage than car worth. I paid her repair, no insurance involved, no accident report. I bought a new car and switched insurance companies because of better rate. Just got a call from SUV owner telling me repairs are more – $$$ – more than her value. She is going to contact her insurance. Question is, is my previous insurance responsible or my new company?

    • Neil Richardson

      That insurance company that was covering you at the time of the accident should be the provider that will cover the accident.

  • Michelle Duan

    Hi Neil,

    I was in a minor accident in February which I filed with my insurance but paid out of pocket for the other driver’s expenses. It caused a minor dent to my car, which I did not bother to fix.
    However, I had another incident in which my car was hit while it was parked. Person did not leave a note but my car’s rear driver’s side fender was dented pretty badly and needs to be replaced. Estimate is $2000-3000. My deductible is $1000.
    Should I file a collision claim? Will that increase my rates?
    I am also thinking about changing car insurance policies soon, how would that affect the future policy rate?

    Thanks,
    Michelle

    • Neil Richardson

      The choice to file a claim is completely up to you. Since the repair cost is more than your deductible, it’s likely that your insurance company would pay for the damage. However, filing a claim is likely to increase your rate. And since accidents stay on your record for 3 years, it’s also likely that if you switch to a new insurance provider that the accident will show up on your record. If you can afford to pay for the repair out of pocket then I would definitely recommend it.

  • rhurt

    My auto insurance provided me a car rental while my car is in the shop being repaired for hail damage. I accidentally scraped the rightside front bumper of the rental car against a concrete in my driveway resulted a scraped about foot. Do I to report this….don’t want my premium rates go up and I have $500 deductible.

    • Neil Richardson

      I would recommend seeing about having it repaired yourself. If you notify your insurance provider then they are probably going to list an at-fault accident on your record and increase your premium.

  • Silver

    I was in a car accident less than 5 days ago involving a left turn. The SUV that struck me signaled over 100ft from their intended exit. That was misleading. 3 out of 4 cars that signaled turned and went straight did exactly what they indicated, except for this SUV that hit me. The accident caused injury to me and my driver side fender messed up including wheel. Should I speak to an attorney about my injury and that misleading turn signal that came on way too early?

    • Neil Richardson

      That decision is entirely up to you. You can always contact your insurance provider for assistance.

  • justone

    So pay an arm and a leg for insurance but don’t claim it because the golden insurance company will raise your rates or cancel you for using the insurance you pay for every month

    • Neil Richardson

      It’s really a judgement call when it comes to filing a claim. If the cost of the repair is less than added premium your insurance company is going to charge then it makes the most sense to pay for the damage yourself. Unfortunately insurance rates increase after a claim in most cases, so the advice offered here is to try and help people make the best financial decision.

  • Neil Richardson

    It may be worth your while to contact an attorney. In most accident situations (especially when there is no damage) it’s always a good idea to take a picture of both vehicles to document the incident. In your case, it will be difficult if not impossible to prove that you caused any damage to someone else if there is no damage to your vehicle.

  • Brittany Tyson

    I was involved in a accident this morning where the other person didn’t see me in his blind spot my passenger side above my tire is damaged I didn’t have time to file a claim at the scene nor did we call the police or get his insurance info bc I was on the way to take my baby to the hospital could I still file a claim with my insurance I have geico full coverage? Thanks, Brittany

    • Neil Richardson

      Your insurance company doesn’t expect you to contact them from the accident scene if you aren’t safely able to do so. Hopefully you took pictures of the damage to both vehicles and exchanged information with the other driver. You can contact your insurance company to file a claim even after you’ve left the scene.

  • Ann Onamouse

    So my mom backed into a parked car. It took us a moment to even find where the cars hit, but there was a slight impression, though no damage to my mom’s car. The person came out while we were still there so we exchanged insurance information, but since my mom had an at-fault fender bender in the last year, she was hoping to pay out of pocket, which the other party did agree to. Then the estimate came back at $1200 on the 15 year old car. She asked for another estimate, which the other party initially agreed to, then changed their mind.

    Does this estimate sound legitimate? Is there anything she can do if it does not? My mom is afraid of our insurance rates going up more than the cost of the repair. It feels like blackmail to have to pay an exorbitant amount for a barely perceptible ding on a 15 year old car, but is it probably better than the alternative?

    • Neil Richardson

      As far as the legitimacy of the estimate, that would be impossible for me to say. If the two parties are not able to come to an agreement on a far repair cost then her only other recourse would be to contact her insurance company and begin the claims process. Our state of insurance report, for which I will provide a link, shows the average impact that an accident will have on a policy in each state. You can see these averages on page 58. https://www.thezebra.com/insurance-data/reports/The-Zebra-State-of-Auto-Insurance-Report-2016.pdf