After an auto accident occurs you may find yourself asking the question: “Should I file a claim or not?”
There may be times when it’s okay not to involve your insurance company after an auto accident, but there are others when you should call your agent to file a claim:
- If anyone is injured in the accident – your passengers, passengers in another vehicle, a pedestrian – you should file a claim. This is very true if you are the party at fault for the accident. You could face medical bills and even litigation as a result of a claim. Notifying the insurance company immediately is important so that they can work and subrogate on your behalf, if necessary.
- If you’re involved in an accident and the fault is unclear, you should file a claim. If the accident results in property damage or injury, you will want your insurance provider to represent you while working with the other insurance company to assign responsibility. If you try on your own to negotiate with and reach a financial agreement with another driver, you could run the risk of a future lawsuit if the other party discovers that the damage to their vehicle was more extensive than they initially believed.
- If you suffer a significant or total loss and the damage exceeds your ability to cover the loss, you should file a claim. Gather estimates from trusted mechanics for the needed repairs. Find out what deductible amount you carry on your auto policy. Know that an accident on your record will cause an increase in your premium when your policy renews. If you feel that it is cheaper to pay out of pocket, go that route. If it is cheaper to file a claim, file a claim.
When is it okay to not file an insurance claim?
If you have a minor single-car accident, no one is hurt and no one’s property is damaged except maybe yours, it may make sense to pay for your repairs out of pocket and not file a claim. Examples might include accidentally backing your car into a pole or your own mailbox. Your decision should be based on whether the cost of repairing your car is less than or comparable to the cost of your policy deductible. Here’s a different example: Let’s say you get into a single-car accident with no injuries or property damage. If you have $1,300 in damage and your deductible is $1,000, you will be out $1,000 for the repairs, with your insurance only covering $300. In this scenario, it may not be worth filing that insurance claim. Regarding deductibles, typically, the higher the deductible, the less you may pay in premium. That’s because you’re assuming a greater share of the risk. However, if you don’t have enough money to pay your deductible after an accident, those reduced premium costs won’t be of much help.
In a nutshell, no one wants their car insurance premium to increase as the result of an accident. However, if you don’t notify your carrier and instead pay for another driver’s repair costs out of your own wallet, you could find yourself in trouble later on. It is advisable to report an accident with another driver as soon as it happens. You can consider not filing a claim if you’re involved in a non-injury accident that involves only your vehicle and property.