Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health in...

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Reviewed by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer

UPDATED: Jul 14, 2021

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In a nutshell...

  • What many people fail to understand is that car insurance was not designed as a way to get your car fixed for any little mishap
  • Your driving history also affects your premiums and may help to determine if you choose to file a claim
  • If you are hit by an uninsured motorist, you should probably talk to your insurance company about whether or not to file a claim

When you have a car accident, your first instinct may be to file a claim. This is only natural; after all, you are paying a high price to have car insurance, and you should be able to claim any accidents that happen to your car as a result.

Unfortunately, this is not always the best plan. There are many smaller accidents or types of more significant accidents, that can drive up your car insurance costs, or even cause a cancellation of your policy.

Generally speaking, car insurance exists because you may be involved in a significant accident with significant damage to your vehicle or another’s, and possibly medical injuries requiring costly treatment.

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When should I file a claim?

Car insurance was not designed to take care of “fender benders,” although many people file claims for just such accidents.

The problems that arise when filing a small claim are manifold. First, you have a deductible that must be met before the insurance company paying anything.

A better plan might be to raise your deductible to $1000 or even more, and pay for the minor damage yourself. Raising your deductible from $250 to $1000 can cut your car insurance premiums significantly, sometimes halving the cost of insurance.

Another problem that arises when filing a claim is that your insurance company keeps records of how many times you are in an accident of any type.

Accidents involving alcohol, reckless driving, and other red-flag situations may cause the insurance company to decline to insure you as a driver.

Again, trying to find car insurance once you have been canceled for one of these reasons is difficult and expensive. This will protect you if the other driver later decides to make a claim or sue you and your insurance company for damages.

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What if I have uninsured motorist coverage?

If you have uninsured motorist coverage, this may be a different situation, as well. Most car insurance companies will not allow you to raise the deductible on your uninsured motorist coverage, which is often set at $250.

If you are hit by an uninsured motorist, you should probably talk to your insurance company about whether or not to file a claim.

In short, when you are involved in a minor fender-bender or one-car accident, it is often cheaper and easier to pay for the damage yourself.

Assuming that the damage is no more than your deductible, you will not be any more out of pocket, and you will save yourself the hassle of having your insurance company deny you coverage or raise your rates.

It is essential to evaluate each situation and determine if the better course is to pay for your damage, or someone else’s, or to file a claim with your company, based on how it will affect your future rates and coverage.

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