Even if you are the most careful driver in the world, one day you are going to have a car accident and need to file a claim. It doesn’t matter if you simply scrapped the side of your car in a parking lot or totaled it in a serious accident, dealing with an insurance claim can be daunting.
Knowledge is power, especially when dealing with insurance companies, being aware of what you can expect during the claims process will ensure that you are treated fairly and your claim is dealt with in a timely manner.
One of the first things you need to do is decide whether or not to file a claim, in many cases paying damages out-of-pocket can be the best course of action.
Should I File a Claim?
Making a claim on your policy can raise your premiums so it makes sense to examine the situation and decide if a claim makes financial sense. While every situation is different, there are a few general rules to follow.
Experts recommend not making small claims, but what constitutes a small claim will vary by both expert and consumer. If you can afford it, paying anything under $1000 is usually a good idea.
According to insurance experts you should make a claim when:
You haven’t had a claim in years. Often one claim will not affect your premiums.
There were injuries. If anyone could claim they were injured due to the accident, file a claim which will protect you from a lawsuit.
Your policy has an accident forgiveness component. You should get a free pass on a rate hike.
If you are at fault it usually makes sense to file a claim as your rates are probably going up anyway.
Avoid Making a Claim if:
Your deductible is close to the claim amount. If your claim amount is within a few hundred dollars of your claim amount, pay it out-of-pocket.
You have had other claims recently, one more could easily push your premiums higher.
The same goes for recent moving violations, a claim could trigger a driving record review, which could lead to higher rates.
You can also get some advice from your close friends or relatives who were in an accident and filed a claim. This could give you rough idea on amount of increment in premiums and you can extrapolate that information to come at some approximate numbers for your situation. Ultimately use your common sense when it comes to filing auto insurance claims.