Sometimes filing a claim with car insurance carriers may not seem like it’s in your best interest, especially when you're involved in a minor fender bender. Read on to help determine when it makes sense to file a claim and when it doesn't.
If you find yourself involved in a minor accident, you might be tempted to avoid filing a claim. After all, filing a claim can lead to higher insurance rates or outright policy cancellation. Depending on your policy and your accident, paying for damages out of pocket may save money in the long run. But it's not always the best choice.
Deciding to file a claim or pay out of pocket isn't easy. In some cases, filing a claim is required by law, but not always. You need to evaluate many factors like accident severity, injuries, your deductible, and your claim history.
Consider filing a claim if your accident meets these criteria:
Paying for accident damages yourself may be a smart move if these situations apply to you:
First, act quickly. Most states and insurance companies have time constraints when dealing with car accidents. Waiting could lead to unnecessary financial or legal trouble.
You might be tempted to call your insurance agent and ask for advice on filing a claim. They can use a surcharge schedule to estimate how much your premium will increase after a claim. Be warned: some insurance companies require agents to report when customers ask questions about filing a claim. As unfair as it seems, your insurance carrier can raise rates because of it.
If there is any doubt to how severe damages are or if someone is injured, file a claim. Facing an insurance increase is a pain. But it's substantially better than dealing with the legal issues that could arise from an accident.
For information on the steps you should take after a fender bender, read our article 'What to do if you get in a car accident.'
Most states require drivers to report accidents with injuries. Many states also require drivers to report accidents with certain amounts of damages – typically between $1,000 and $2,500. Getting into legal trouble for leaving the scene of an accident is more damaging than an insurance increase.
Ask your insurer and check your state's DMV to stay informed about local accident rules and regulations.
A fender bender is a minor car accident with little damage to either vehicle. The term refers to the fender, or the frame of the wheel well. It's now synonymous with a small accident that causes superficial damage. A fender bender can refer to more than just the fender. For example, denting a vehicle bumper qualifies as a fender bender.
A: It depends on a few factors. If the incident involves another vehicle, you may want to report it to your insurer to protect yourself regardless of how much damage you think was done. In addition, many states require drivers to file claims when a certain dollar amount of damage is done. Check your state's DMV for more information.
A: Some companies include accident forgiveness on their policies by default. Others charge extra to add accident forgiveness. Insurers may require a certain amount of accident-free time behind the wheel to qualify. Check your insurance plan and contact your provider to find out if you qualify.
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