If you’re involved in an accident, particularly one that involves another vehicle, you’re pretty much under obligation to file an insurance claim. If you don’t, you’re likely at risk for legal implications. So, exactly what constitutes filing a car insurance claim? Here are answers to better help you understand when to file a claim.
When two vehicles are involved in an accident where significant damage has occurred, it’s imperative to contact your insurance carrier. Substantial damage warrants filing a claim in spite of who is at fault in the accident. If there are doubts as to the extent of damage, don’t let it go by the board. Even the slightest vehicle damage can be extremely expensive to repair. So, beware of personal and quick settlements with the other party or driver when it comes to estimating damages.
If another driver is involved, or you as a driver damage someone else’s vehicle with a dent, deep scrapes, scratches or other damage, you need to let your insurance company know that a second driver and vehicle are involved. You don’t want the other driver in a two-car incident or run-in to come back at a later date with further claims of more involved damage, increased payouts or even lawsuits.
Liability coverage will serve as protection from lawsuits. Most insurance companies are well versed in dealing with drivers and their accusations concerning accident involvement. Liability insurance pays for any damages or injuries that drivers may cause. It also pays any legal costs or lawsuits that come as the result of an accident.
In regard to damage to your own car, be aware of possible hidden damage and repair costs. Collision insurance coverage should pay for the damage, excluding the deductible. Any amount of damage warrants notifying your insurance carrier within a certain period of time. If you wait too long, your claim payment could be jeopardized.
When serious injuries occur to you or another driver because of a collision, it’s necessary to pursue a claim with your insurance carrier. Even if it seems as though any injuries are minor or less critical at the accident scene, it is important to keep in mind that some injury symptoms don’t manifest themselves until sometime later. You don’t want to be held liable for ongoing medical bills for someone else. Your insurance company should be the one handling any medical issues. You don’t want to negotiate any injury payments outside of your policy.
Rate Increase Fears
Drivers who are involved in fender benders or minor accidents (where no injuries have occurred) will try to avoid filing a claim because they fear their insurance rates will increase.
Rather than filing a claim, some drivers prefer negotiating any repair expenses with the other driver in order to avoid increases in their insurance rates. What drivers need to realize is that most insurance companies assess rate increases by the cost of any damage. If the damage happens to be less than a possible rate increase (once a claim has been made), a driver won’t have to use insurance to cover minor vehicle damage.
Failing to File a Claim
Again, in certain situations, there can be serious legal repercussions for not filing a car insurance claim. Here is some of what you should consider when determining whether to file a claim:
A rate increase will depend solely on your individual insurance company as well as the conditions concerning the accident. Accident forgiveness is also a factor with rate increases. A good driver can be in an accident one time and not be punished with an increase.
Considerations Made with Rate Increases
When deciding whether to raise your rates, here are a few factors your insurance company will consider:
• The severity of the accident – The more severe the damage, the greater the likelihood of a rate increase due to a car insurance carrier making a larger disbursement or payout.
• Who’s at fault – Rates may increase if you were at fault.
• Rates may remain the same if the other driver was liable.
• Rates can increase in some localities and states (no-fault states) or through your insurance company rules and guidelines. Any increase may be less even if the fault was yours.
• Your driving record – If you have a safe driving record, you’re a cost-saving driver to your insurance company. Also, if you’re a long-standing policyholder, you may be assessed a smaller increase in rates in comparison to a driver with a bad driving record and less history.
• Rates are lower for drivers who have no claims, or a smaller number of claims. These drivers are recognized as low-risk. Insurance carriers have determined that safe and competent drivers aren’t inclined to file claims that require payouts.
• Any rate inquiry should go through your insurance company. You will have to ask for a surcharge schedule or connect with your insurance agent. Your company or agent will note your inquiry.
When Not to File a Claim
There is no need to file a claim if:
• the accident involves only you and your vehicle.
• the damage is limited and small, like the kind sustained from backing into a pole or mailbox.
• you only have liability insurance coverage and no collision coverage. A policy will not cover damage to your vehicle without collision coverage.
• you have collision coverage but the damage to your vehicle is limited and your repair costs are less than your deductible (what you pay out of your pocket). In that case, filing a claim is unnecessary.
If you are unsure when to file a car insurance claim, complete the online contact form and a representative will return your inquiry as quickly as possible. Don’t get caught in the possibility of a rate increase or other legal implications because of failing to file an insurance claim quickly and efficiently.