When your car becomes damaged, whether from an accident or a storm, your first instinct is probably to call your insurance company. Your automotive policy exists to ensure that expenses you can’t cover and that could leave your or someone else dealing with injuries or property damage are sorted out.
However, an insurance claim almost always results in a premium increase. You may even experience a premium increase by calling to talk about whether or not you should file a claim based on the number of similar inquiries you’ve made in the past.
It’s important to understand when you are required to file a claim, when it’s a good idea to file a claim, and when you should handle vehicle damage repairs on your own. In this blog, we discuss four factors to help you decide how to proceed after your car is damaged.
Not all types of vehicle damage are covered under every policy. For example, your policy may not include coverage for vandalism, storm damage, or fire.
Before you file a claim, look through your policy information to see if you can identify whether or not the damage is covered. If you make a claim for damage that isn’t covered, you may not get any help with repairs and your premium could still take a hit.
If possible, look through policy information you have on hand or can access online because, as mentioned in the introduction, inquiries can result in penalties.
- Extent of Vehicle Damage
If you find yourself in a situation where you could cover the costs of repairs yourself, these circumstances are usually when you would choose not to file a claim. In fact, it may be wise not to file a claim if the cost of your deductible is equal to or more than the cost of the repairs themselves.
When you’re checking your coverage, find out what your deductible is. If you have a repairs deductible of $500, it doesn’t make sense to pay that amount to your insurance company and have your premiums changed for a repair bill of less than that amount.
- Legal Fault
As a rule, when more than one person is involved in a driving incident, you should file a claim unless no one is hurt and the damage is minimal. Which insurance company you file the claim with can depend on which involved party is found legally at fault.
If you know that the other driver is at fault, you can file a claim with his or her insurance company directly. This claim will go under the other driver’s liability coverage.
If you know that you’ll be found legally at fault, file a claim with your own insurance under your collision policy. This claim can protect you from the cost of repairs to both the other driver’s vehicle and your own, as well as potential medical and legal expenses.
If fault is unclear, disputed, or undetermined, file a claim with your insurance company. Your insurance adjuster is one of the parties who helps determine legal fault and he or she can advocate on your behalf during that portion of the claims process.
- Other Types of Damage
When your vehicle is the only item damaged in an incident, you may have the choice not to file an insurance claim. However, when there are also other types of damage, you may be required to file.
For example, if anyone was injured in an accident, filing a claim is essential. This rule includes passersby and passengers, as well as you and the driver of the other vehicle. If you choose not to file a claim, you may be responsible for all medical expenses if you’re found at fault.
You may also need to file an insurance claim if the incident affected public property or property that doesn’t belong to you, even if the damage resulted from a one-car accident where no one was hurt. If you do not file a claim, the owner of the property could potentially sue you over the damages caused.
If your vehicle and another piece of your own property were both damaged in a driving incident, you should consider the costs when deciding whether or not to claim. If you can cover the costs of both repairs on your own, it doesn’t make financial sense to submit a claim.
However, if you could be subject to fines on top of the repair costs because visible property damage violates your homeowner association agreement terms, for example, a claim may be in your best interests.
While your insurance coverage offers you protection, using the policy incorrectly can result in hefty costs. Weigh the factors listed above to ensure that you make the right decision about damage to your vehicle.
If you need an estimate on repairs for your vehicle, come to Central Body Company, Inc. We offer remote estimates that can help you decide whether involving your insurance company is necessary.