You’ve probably heard that there are circumstances in which you should avoid filing a car insurance claim. That’s correct. Let’s walk through some hypothetical situations when you don’t need to contact your insurance company.
1. You were rear-ended and you collected the other driver’s insurance information
Fault is difficult to establish in many road accident situations. It can be hard to tell who caused an accident, especially if you were one of the drivers involved. Getting rear-ended, though, is a different matter: it’s almost always the fault of the person who crashed into you, which means that their insurance—not yours—should pay for any damage.
As long as you have the other party’s insurance information, you have everything you need to file a claim. Call the other party’s insurance provider—they’ll be the ones handling the claim and making things right.
A quick note: if you were rear-ended and are filing a claim with the other party’s insurance company, you don’t need to let your insurance company know. As long as the claim with the other insurer goes smoothly, there’s no reason for your insurer to be involved.
On the other hand, if the other party wasn’t insured—or if their insurance company is unresponsive after multiple follow-ups—you should contact your insurance company. They’ll be able to advocate on your behalf. (Also, if you purchased collision or uninsured motorist coverages, this is where they might apply.).
2. Your policy doesn’t include collision coverage and you caused damage to only your own vehicle
Insurance companies are here to help you, but it’s important to remember that covering your own car for at-fault accidents is optional. That’s what collision coverage is for—and why it’s sold separately from liability coverage (which is required by law in almost every state and covers the other driver if you cause an accident).
So if you choose not to get collision coverage—and then back your car into a telephone pole—you’ll be on your own paying for the cost of repairs to your vehicle.
3. You have collision coverage but you caused minor damage to only your own vehicle
First, it’s important to know that any time you submit an at-fault claim, you run the risk of a rate increase at your next renewal—after all, you’ve just moved into another risk pool.
If the damage to your car is major — for example, you smashed your $25,000 car into a tree and totaled it — filing a collision claim makes sense. Even with your deductible and a potential rate increase factored in, you’ll still be better off than if you replaced your car with your own funds.
The economics make less sense, however, when you hit a concrete wall and crack a headlight. First off, you’ll need to factor in your deductible. If you chose a $1000 deductible when you bought a policy and the cost of repairing the damage to your headlight is $300, filing a claim isn’t worth it. You won’t get a payout and there’s a chance that the cost of your premiums could go up.
One more thing: if you damaged someone else’s property—for example, if the picket fence you hit looks worse than your bumper—you need to give your insurance company a call. They’ll compensate the other party for the cost of any property you damaged.
Not sure whether the damage is major enough to warrant a claim? Our recommendation is to get a repair estimate from a body shop to see if filing a claim is worthwhile. (And, when in doubt, go ahead and file the claim.)
If your takeaway from these examples is that you should contact your insurance company for most accidents, you’re right. The common denominator for the no-file situations listed above is that they’re simple incidences where fault is clearly established: they involve minor one-car incidents or, in the case of getting rear-ended, a two-car accident where there’s no ambiguity about who is to blame.
Because most cases aren’t so straightforward, you should notify your insurer about almost every accident — we’re excellent at being your advocate during complex, stressful situations. It’s what we’re here for.
Ultimately, if you’re ever confused about whether or not to file a claim, you can always give Clearcover a call or send us a chat in our app. A team member would be happy to walk you through the pros and cons before you make a final decision.