Should You File An Auto Insurance Claim

May 26, 2010

To file or not to file; that is the question. There are certain situations where you should file a claim if your car was damaged due to an accident. However, there are other instances where filing a claim for losses less than $1,000 may not be necessary or advisable. Here is some advice on whether or not to make an auto insurance claim.

Depending upon the terms of your auto insurance policy, a claim needs to be filed in cases where the amount of damage to the car exceeds the deductible. In addition, the law requires damage above a specific amount to be reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles. The amount varies by state.

For example, let’s assume you are parked in your car at the curb and another driver passes by so closely that he tears the side view mirror off your car. The first thing you have to do is to find out how much it will cost you to replace the mirror.

Afterward, you have to decide whether it is worth claiming this as collision damage. You can call the insurance agent and ask if this incident will raise your rates and by how much, or you can absorb the cost of the replacement.

It should be noted that:

  • Some auto insurance companies “forgive” a first-time accident based on certain criteria.
  • Some auto insurance companies require that agents who receive inquiries of this type have to report the incident and, consequently, your premium may be increased.
  • Some insurance companies may not raise rates if the claim is under a certain amount.
  • Some insurance companies will give you the information you seek freely without reporting it as an accident.
  • Another consideration is the amount of collision damage you currently have on your car. If you have the minimum $500 deductible, it may be a good idea to increase the amount to $1,000. This will serve two purposes – it will allow you to file a claim for damages incurred through no fault of your own (such as the example given above), and it may lower your overall premium.

    Be aware that any car accident that involves another vehicle should be reported, even if the damage is only slight. There are many instances in which an injury may reveal itself later on and by reporting the collision, you are fully protected from the outset.

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