You are a cautious driver who has never caused an accident, but one day when you are rushing to make it into work on time you accidentally rear end the driver in front of you when the traffic slows. Accidents can happen to anyone and this is exactly why you have insurance. But this has never happened to you and you aren’t sure what to do next or how to file an auto insurance claim.
If you ever find yourself in this situation, there are a number of things you should know about filing an insurance claim and how accident claims can affect your insurance premiums.
The Steps of the Insurance Claim Process
- Contact your insurance company as soon as possible. Whether or not you want to make a claim, it is still wise to notify your insurance carrier promptly – even as early as from the scene of the accident. Your insurance agent can give you advice on what to do at the scene such as getting the other driver’s information or taking pictures of the collision and any damage.
- Your insurance carrier will review your coverage. Once you have provided your carrier with details about how the accident occurred, information about the parties involved and an overview of the damages and/or injuries, your provider should be able to inform you of your options based on the coverage your policy includes.
- You will be assigned an insurance adjuster. If you have decided to go ahead and file an insurance claim then the company will send an adjuster who will investigate the accident to determine liability, or who was at-fault. An adjuster would also investigate any damages or injuries resulting from the accident.
- The claim will be settled. Once the inspection of your vehicle is completed and liability has been determined, the insurance adjuster will offer an estimate for the damages. If you are found not to be at fault for the accident, you may be able to recover your deductible from the other driver’s insurance company.
How a Car Insurance Claim Can Affect Your Premium
There is not a set dollar amount to determine exactly if and how much your insurance premiums will increase as the result of a claim. Most insurance companies calculate increases based on a number of factors, which include:
- The amount of damage and/or injuries resulting from the accident. A major factor in determining whether or not your rates will increase is based on the cost of the claim. The damage resulting from a three-car pile-up can be much more significant compared to a claim for a broken windshield.
- If you filed a claim for an accident that was determined to be another driver’s fault completely then your rates are unlikely to increase.
- Previous driving record and claim history. If you have a spotless driving record and this is your first accident in 10 years, it is less likely that your rates will increase after a claim. On the other hand, if you have had multiple tickets and you file a claim for an accident caused because you were drunk driving, your policy will likely increase or be non-renewed/terminated.
- History with your insurance company and/or policy details. If you have been a loyal customer to your company for years without a claim it could mean your rates wouldn’t significantly increase after a claim. Additionally, some insurance policies include accident forgiveness for your first accident.
Is it Always Necessary to File an Insurance Claim?
It is important to remember that when you make a claim you will be responsible to pay the deductible that you previously set for your policy. In some cases the cost to repair your vehicle could be less than or close to the price of your deductible. In those instances you may decide to save time and money by repairing your vehicle on your own. For example, it may cost you $600 to replace your broken windshield, but your deductible is $500. In this circumstance, it might not make sense to file a claim and run the risk of a policy increase in the future.
The most important thing is that you understand what your auto insurance policy will cover before an accident happens and to have an understanding of what your options are when an accident occurs.
If you’re not insured with USAgencies, you’re paying too much for auto insurance. Get a free auto insurance quote online or over the phone at 800-420-3712 and find out how much you can save.