There are certain situations in which you should file an auto insurance claim, but not every situation has the same solution. So, when should you file an auto insurance claim? Let’s get into everything you need to know about filing a claim and when it’s appropriate to do so.
When Should I Not File an Auto Insurance Claim?
The smaller the accident, the less likely you need to file an auto insurance claim. There are two main reasons you might not file a claim with your auto insurance company: the damage is so minor that it’s pointless to do so or you don’t want to report the accident just in case it raises the cost of your insurance premium.
It’s important to know what your insurance plan’s deductible is. If your collision insurance — which covers accident damages to your vehicle — covers up to $25,000 in damages, but you have to pay a $1,000 deductible before it kicks in, it can be pointless to file a claim for a repair job that will cost you $500. All you will have done is let your insurance company know you got into the accident and you’ll still be required to pay for the repair by yourself.
Small Damage Only to Your Car
If only your car is damaged and it would cost less than your deductible to repair those damages, you might consider letting this one slide. These situations include running into poles with your car or running into anything that’s not damaged by you doing so. If you’re unsure how much money it would cost to fix the damage, you can ask a trustworthy mechanic’s shop to take a look at it.
Even if the damages surpass your deductible, you should think about whether or not you want to file a claim. With every claim you make, your insurance rates may rise when it comes time to renew your plan. Also, if you only have liability insurance — which only pays for damages to other people’s property — there is no point in reporting the damage to your vehicle.
When You Should File an Auto Insurance Claim
You’ll find that the situations in which you should file an auto insurance claim far outnumber the situations where you shouldn’t. A sure-fire way of being able to tell if you should file a claim is if there is another driver involved. A good rule of thumb to follow is that if there is another driver involved in the accident, you should just go ahead and file a claim or at least report the accident to your insurance company.
This is true even if the other driver agrees to make a private deal to resolve the issue or pay for the damages. Unless you’re related to the person whose car you hit, you shouldn’t agree to a private deal with someone, as they can put you in a compromising position later.
If you cause damage to someone else’s car, you should tell your insurance company. There may be more damage than you’re aware of, and this is what your liability insurance is there for. Reporting the incident immediately also helps protect you against the other driver potentially pinning other unrelated damages on you.
Informing your insurance company about the accident is doubly important if the other driver or their passengers suffer injuries. Making a liability insurance claim for bodily injuries can be more complicated than property damage claims, as medical treatments can be more long-lasting. Your insurance company will need to know about the accident as soon as possible to get all the information they need.
How Do I File a Claim?
In the digital era, filing an auto insurance claim is easier than ever. You have multiple options to choose from when it’s time to file a claim with your insurance company. You can do it by calling their claims department, which you can likely reach through the company’s general phone number. You can also file a claim online or through your insurance company’s app. If you called the police to file a report on the accident, you’ll send a copy of this to your insurance company.
From here, the claim-filing process is fairly easy. It’s important that you follow the instructions that your insurance company gives you and stick to the deadlines for form submissions. If your vehicle is out of commission, you might ask your insurance company about rental car reimbursement while you have them on the phone.
How Long Can I Take To File a Claim?
You should report the incident to your insurance company as soon as possible. But reporting an incident and filing an insurance claim are different things. You have more time to file an insurance claim — months or even years in some cases. However, something important to keep in mind is that the longer you want to file your insurance claim, the less credible your claim may seem to your insurance company.
Insurance companies are constantly on the lookout for fraud. Waiting too long after an accident to file a claim can raise some red flags to your insurance provider. Another problem with waiting too long to file a claim is that your insurance company needs time to investigate the incident and the damages that occurred as a result. Waiting too long to file a claim can hinder the company’s ability to investigate the incident and they might deny your claim as a result.
How long you can take depends on the company you choose. But generally, the sooner you can get the claim in, the better your chances will be of it being accepted and paying out.
Knowing when to file an auto insurance claim and when to hold off can save you money by keeping down your insurance premium. If you want to prepare yourself for the road’s surprises, read more articles and resources like this one in our blog section.
At FIXD, our mission is to make car ownership as simple, easy, and affordable as possible. Our research team utilizes the latest automotive data and insights to create tools and resources that help drivers get peace of mind and save money over the life of their car.