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When Not to File an Auto Claim
If there is only one vehicle involved
Should you file a claim even if your vehicle is the only one involved?
This question is asked for one of two reasons, the insured party is worried that their accident makes them look silly and the insurance company will jack up the premium price.
The other reason is that the damage is low enough that the insured party can pay for the damage out of their own pocket (and not have their rates go up). Either way, I will try to address the main concerns here.
Usually “one-vehicle claims” will be reported to underwriters to take into account when assessing the premiums the following policy period.
The reason for that is because evidence of one person crashing their own vehicle shows that that person is an inattentive driver.
Claims involving one vehicle or one party only will not necessarily increase your rates to the point that you should not file. Remember that you pay insurance to use it when you need it.
Most of the time, you want to file a claim because you want the insurance company to be aware of the problem. If the damage is more than expected, your duty to report losses is fulfilled.
However, there are certain claims you should really think about first before filing (considering that the damage is minor):
• When you do not have coverage (why report if they will not provide coverage anyway)
• When the damage is very close or below your deductible
• When there is evidence that alcohol or drugs are a factor of the accident
• While your license was suspended
• When a teenager gets in an accident at excessive speed
• If the damage is completely mechanical (mechanical breakdown is excluded)
• If a police officer gives you a ticket
• Extreme cases of negligence and lack of care (leaving your car in a ditch for 3 months)
• Filing too many claims in a short period of time (3 claims in a month). If your claim does not fit any of the descriptions above, then the question remains - how much will the rates increase?
Usually your rates will increase some, but it will only reflect a few dollars per month. Do not be embarrassed or discouraged to file a claim if your claim is “silly."
Things happen and claim adjusters know it.
Claims for backing out and hitting something are more common than you think. Remember that you pay insurance to use it and insurance companies are aware of that.
Put your insurance company to the test. It is a good idea to ask your agent when not to file an auto claim.
Agents will probably discourage you from filing claims (so their bonus is not reduced). However, there are good agents out there that will truly tell you what they think is the best thing to do in your situation.
Remember that the agent is not the insurance company.
This is important because if you want to report a claim, you must do it with the insurance company. Some agents will report losses on your behalf as a courtesy, but you can always ask them not to.
Note that the agent can only give you a reasonable answer regarding rates and based on that you can decide when not to file an auto claim. However, the agent does not assess coverage and fault.
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