When you get into an accident, many things may run through your mind. After making sure everyone is okay and evaluating the damage to vehicles and property, you’ll need to determine whether you should file a claim with your insurance company. Here are some questions to ask yourself.
1. Are there any injuries?
If anyone is hurt, whether in your car, the other vehicle or a pedestrian, you should file a claim. Medical expenses aren’t cheap, and if you don’t file a claim, you may find yourself getting sued by another party. This can happen in any collision, but especially if you’re found to be at fault.
2. Who is at fault?
Even if it’s not clear who’s at fault, it’s worth filing a claim. These situations are often your word against the other driver’s. Typically, insurance companies will negotiate and assign responsibility for the collision — and pay the respective parties accordingly.
3. Is your vehicle totaled?
Finally, if your car is wrecked, it may be considered a significant or total loss. In those cases, you can file a claim through your collision coverage or your property damage coverage via your liability insurance. Your insurance company will pay for the damages, which can go toward replacing your vehicle.
When NOT to file a claim
Conversely, for collisions that only involve your vehicle, it may not be worth filing a claim. If you bump into a fire hydrant or accidentally pull a bit too far into your driveway and hit your garage, you may have dinged your vehicle a bit, but chances are you’re uninjured and didn’t damage any property.
In those instances, you’re likely better off paying repair costs out of pocket. Since car insurance plans have deductibles, you’d have to pay that much anyway before your insurance company would cover the rest.
For example, if you had a $1,000 deductible and your collision required $1,100 in repairs, filing a claim would only save you $100 on those repairs. However, the resulting increase in your monthly premium would quickly offset what you had saved.
If you get into a minor fender bender, it’s often a better idea to exchange information and ask the other driver if you can pay for any repairs out of pocket instead of filing a claim.
Remember, filing a claim will often (but not always) raise your monthly premium. Think about the pros and cons of filing before deciding. If you do file a claim, it’s typically better to act quickly.
Not sure if you should file a claim? Check out our State of Auto Insurance to see the impact of an at-fault collision on your insurance rates, which is calculated over a three-year timeframe. Compare that with an estimate at a nearby mechanic. If the repairs cost more than your total rate increase minus your deductible, it’s a good idea to file a claim.
If you’re worried you’re paying too much with your current insurance company (especially if you’ve previously filed a claim with them), compare car insurance quotes and find a new policy that could potentially save you money.