Whether Or Not To File A Claim

Learning when to file an auto insurance claim and when not to file an auto insurance claim will help you control your auto insurance rates after an accident. If you are at-fault and can afford the damages, you should not file an auto insurance claim to avoid an increase in rates, but if you not-at-fault you should consider your deductible before you file an auto insurance claim to cover the costs.

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Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insurance...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers CSR for 4 Years

UPDATED: Oct 30, 2020

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Auto Insurance is one of those products you buy and hope to never have to use… kind of like a gun. After all, who wants to ever get into a car accident? Unless you are one of those con-men looking for a pay-day from an auto insurance claim, probably not you! Unfortunately, most of us will probably have to make a claim on our auto insurance at some point in our lives. And therefore, it’s highly recommended for everyone who drives to have some type of auto insurance policy in place.

file a car insurance claim
If you get into an accident, this form could be staring at you in the face. But should you really fill it out and submit it to your insurer?

In fact, in the United States, it’s legally required for drivers to carry auto insurance if they decide to get behind the wheel. Although the law says you need to have auto insurance, they do not say that you need to make a claim even if you get into an accident.

But why would anyone not want to make a claim? Isn’t it kind of like free money to repair your car? My answer to that is, “well, kind of.” As a wise man once said, there is no such thing as a free lunch.

And the reason behind this is because your claims history can have an impact on your auto insurance premiums.

If you are determined to be “at fault” in a car accident, it makes sense that your auto insurance premiums will rise. This is a fact that not many people will disagree with. These premium adjustments will often be tacked on as a surcharge. But what happens when you make a claim when you are not at fault? Should you even make a claim when the accident isn’t your fault?

When you are deemed to be not at fault in a car accident and you make a claim, you will not be penalized with a surcharge. Unfortunately, a claim is a claim is a claim. So, they still count as claims against your policy. They won’t, however, impact the price of your premiums the same way as an “at fault” accident claim would.

Check Your Deductibles

It is generally recommended that car insurance policyholders avoid filing claims for damages that are less than the deductibles (the amount you pay out of pocket before your insurance company will pay for any damages) on their collision and comprehensive policies. For example, if the damage is $400 and your deductibles for collision and comprehensive are both at $500, you should probably just bite the bullet and pay for damages yourself.

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Decide About Filing A Claim You Are Not At Fault For

The reason that accidents you are not at fault for can still increase your insurance rates is that the number of insurance claims you file has a direct impact on your premiums. The great number of claims you file, the more likely your insurance rates will rise. (If you file too many, the insurance company can decide to cancel your policy altogether.)

So think long and hard about filing that claim! Even if you are just a really unlucky guy who constantly gets rear-ended, your insurance rates still can rise.

What To Do If You Are At Fault

If you are at fault and can afford to pay for damages done, you should certainly do that. Rate hikes from an at-fault claim can be astronomical. (For information regarding claims for small accidents, read our detailed article on that subject here.)

Filing a claim for an accident you are at fault for typically results in a 20-40% rate hike. And hikes certainly do not go away overnight. They stay in effect for years and year and years (varying based on the insurer and severity of the accident). Usually, these “surcharges” last between two and five years.

Often times, your insurer will cancel your coverage if the claim is outrageously bad (something like a DUI that results in a fatality). They will still cover damages from that single claim, but after canceling your policy, you will be forced to look for a new provider that offers “high risk” coverage or SR22 coverage.

Should I File A Claim?

If you have any specific questions about whether or not you should file a claim, or would like us to assess your unique situation. Ask us on Twitter @4insurenet or post your question as a comment below. Insurance experts are always here at 4AutoInsuranceQuote.com to answer your questions.

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