Our insurance agency takes phone calls daily from clients involved in either an at fault or not at fault accident, and the question inevitably comes up; should I file a claim with the insurance company?
Well, that depends on a lot of circumstances and in each case is dependent on a lot of factors like: who’s at fault, how much damage to you or the other vehicles or property, did you get a police report, where did you get hit, etc. Also, depending on the state hitting someone in the rear may automatically make you at fault regardless if they caused the accident.
Let’s review a few general scenarios:
Fender Bender Auto Accident
Let’s start with a simple first: You back into a pole in a parking lot that scrapped the bumper and it looks like less damage than your collision insurance deductible would cost I’d say no. Plus the claim on your auto insurance record would show an at fault accident which will stay on your record between 3-5 years. Second, you’ll probably be looking at a rate increase at the next renewal, again for 3-5 years.
Small claims should be looked at like getting a cold and taking some over the counter medicine. You feel bad, but not enough that it requires a trip to the doctor’s office. Keep your record clean even if you have accident forgiveness; you never know when you might be shopping for lower auto insurance rates and don’t want incidents on your record.
Not At Fault Auto Accident
Someone hits you (not-at-fault) and again, it’s a minor accident with no bodily injury, maybe like a parking lot accident and they have proof of insurance. Our recommendation would be to turn the claim into the other party’s auto insurance carrier and see if they take care of the accident quickly and without hassles. You should contact their insurance company provide their policy number explain what happened and if they (the insurance company) confirms their customer with no problems you should be good to go.
Remember, you can always turn in to your insurance company, provided you have collision insurance, but why have a not-at-fault accident listed on the record if you don’t need to.
At Fault Auto Accident
You hit another vehicle or some other type of property – 99.9 out of 100 times I’m going to recommend turning in the claim.
1. You don’t want or need the hassles dealing with someone else and their damaged property or vehicle.
2. They may claim some type of bodily injury later on and you thought the issue was resolved.
3. This is why you buy insurance so you can pass the responsibilities on to the insurance company – hopefully you bought high enough coverage limits.
Bottom Line – you should be calling your insurance agent or broker first to discuss the incident and decide if filing a claim is the right direction and how this will impact your future cost of insurance. If you are injured the car is not going to get fixed today, so get to the hospital and we can deal with the car later.
Getting a police report is going to be your proof of “not” being at fault, if that’s what you believe, otherwise you’ll find people change their minds later on and start claiming it was your fault. Get it in writing to hold people accountable after the fact.
Hopefully I’ve been able to give some general answers to some common accident situations.
For more information, call 800-459-6060 or visit: Insurance Brokers Group