Zaneta Wood, Ed.S. has over 15 years of experience in research and technical writing bringing a keen understanding of data analysis and information synthesis to reach a wide variety of audiences. She studied adult education and instructional technology at Appalachian State University as well as technical and professional communication at East Carolina University. Zaneta has prepared technical p...

Full Bio →

Written by

Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

Full Bio →

Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP®

UPDATED: Jun 2, 2020

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right coverage choices.

Advertiser Disclosure: We strive to help you make confident insurance decisions. Comparison shopping should be easy. We partner with top insurance providers. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about auto insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything auto insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by auto insurance experts.

Here's what you need to know...

  • Claims should be made whenever others are involved or if there is serious injury or damage
  • Minor dents or fender-benders can be paid out-of-pocket to avoid accumulating points on your driving record
  • Premiums may increase for reporting too many minor traffic incidents
  • Consider the cost and the risk for reporting if it involves only one-car accidents with minor damage

On an insurance site, you expect to see information about how to file an insurance claim, where to shop and compare rates, get quotes, and other information about insurance.

What you don’t expect to see is an article about when you should not file a claim for an accident.

However, we are in the business of helping guide consumers of insurance products in the right direction, so we want to share any information available to help you do this.

Compare car insurance quotes today by using our free tool above!

Table of Contents

When to File a Claim

adobestock_30324698-1600x1600

First, to understand the times that you should not file, it’s important to understand when you should file a claim. In general, whenever you have an accident, you should report it to your insurance company.

This is especially true in cases when there was someone else involved or if injuries or other damage occurred.

This is to protect you legally and ensure that your insurer has taken care of the damages so that you have no out-of-pocket expense.

You never know what will happen after an accident, such as additional injuries that the other driver claims to have suffered as a result of your negligence or fault.

As a rule, when someone was injured, or their car was damaged, you should file. Otherwise, you may be forced to pay out-of-pocket for the damages.

Free Car Insurance Comparison

Compare Quotes From Top Companies and Save

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Free Car Insurance Comparison

Enter your ZIP code below to view companies that have cheap car insurance rates.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

When the Other Driver Was at Fault

In cases where the other driver is at fault for the accident, you should also file a claim. This is because your insurer will contact the other driver’s insurance company and report that the accident was due to the fault of the other driver and that they are responsible for paying.

This is all done behind the scenes between insurance companies, and it is one reason you pay your premiums to insurance companies each month. They will take care of these behind-the-scenes details when the situation demands it.

In cases when you have only received minor damages from a scrape in the parking lot or other bumps and scratches, you may want to consider paying for it yourself if it is not too expensive.

When you have a minor incident that does not involve others, look over the damage and consider whether you can afford it yourself. That’s why it’s good to keep up with what your policy states and what your deductible is, as well.

Inquiries Defined

If you think the insurance company won’t cover your damages due to not meeting your deductible, it is highly advisable not to file a claim or even contact them about the incident.

That’s because insurance companies will record it as an “inquiry.”

Inquiries mean that someone has reported a possible accident and insurers are required to keep a record of it. Even making inquiries can increase premiums if insurers believe there was damage done, whether it was your fault or not.

Even making inquiries can increase premiums if insurers believe there was damage done, whether it was your fault or not.

One of the reasons that you may want to consider paying for minor damages yourself, especially if other drivers were not involved, is that insurance companies may start to think that you are accident prone if you report all of these incidents.

For example, reporting that you backed into a sign at a local convenience store would be appropriate if it causes significant damage.

You should keep in mind that sometimes the body work costs far more than you initially think it will cost.

We know of at least once incident when an officer estimated the damage was around $50, and when the report came back from an adjuster, the damage was estimated at $750.

This is such a complex process regarding what damage will cost and depends on some factors.

You don’t know how much you will be paying out-of-pocket until you get an insurance adjuster to check it out. For this reason, if you think the body work is going to cost more than $500, you will likely want to file a claim.

A Word About Deductibles

One way to judge whether or not you should file an insurance claim is if it succeeds your deductible amount for collision.

Deductibles are the amounts put on your insurance policy for collision repair. You must meet the minimum deductible amount before your insurance company pays for the damages.

So, if you have a $500 deductible, this means that you will have to pay for the first $500 worth of repairs. After that, the insurance company will pay the rest.

Think carefully when choosing your deductible amount because you never know how much something is going to cost to repair.

Some of the factors influencing the cost of repair include:

  • Degree of damage to body
  • Paint requirements
  • Materials involved
  • Difficulty in locating parts

These are just a few of the factors involved in auto body repair that you need to consider when purchasing auto insurance and choosing deductible amounts.

We suggest filing a claim on anything that is over your deductible amount. In these cases, you will be out too much money to justify not filing a claim.

If you pay for minor damages, such as one-car collisions where you back up against a fence, scrape an object, or cause light damage to your car yourself, it will probably help your premiums to stay low and will have no repercussions on your driving record.

If you have repeated incidents of parking lot scrapes and dents, your insurer may raise your premiums because they feel you are a risk for too many claims.

For insurance companies, that profit comes from the difference between loss due to claims and gains, due to the payment of premiums.

Over time, the books must be balanced, and high-risk customers may see increased premiums and their driving record make accumulate points that can adversely affect it.

Free Car Insurance Comparison

Enter your ZIP code below to view companies that have cheap car insurance rates.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Conclusions

While filing a claim is certainly your right as an insured driver, you may want to consider the circumstances before making that call.

The reason for this is because insurance companies keep track of every incident that happens in your account, including simply inquiring about your account.

If such inquiries involve a possible accident, your insurer may raise your rates to protect themselves against additional risk and balance the equation against any future claims you may make.

This is one reason that insurance rates fluctuate so much at times, and it’s hard to know exactly what it will be from one-quarter to another.

Shopping and comparing rates, choosing your deductible amount carefully and reading the fine print are your best lines of defense to making sure you have enough insurance to cover your damages when you do file a claim.

It is advisable to avoid filing claims or even calling your insurance company for anything that is below your chosen deductible.

This is because they will keep a record of it, even in cases of when they do not pay out.

This could potentially raise your premiums, and you will not have anything to show for it.

On the other hand, if you underestimate the cost of repairs and fail to file a claim, you may be out more money than you expected which can be costly on your bank account.

Additionally, it is also preferred and advisable to file a claim when the following are involved:

  • Other drivers
  • Passengers
  • Pedestrians

If you do not file in such circumstances, they may come back later and sue you for damages if they claim the injuries or damage were more serious than they initially thought.

Think carefully before filing a claim but make sure you do so when it is necessary to protect yourself legally from legal actions, damages to your own or others’ property.

Compare auto insurance today by entering your zip code below!

References:

  1. http://time.com/money/3712220/should-i-file-an-auto-insurance-claim/
  2. http://accident-law.freeadvice.com/accident-law/auto/fault-no-fault-car-accidents.htm
  3. http://www.investopedia.com/financial-edge/1012/how-insurers-decide-your-auto-insurance-rate.aspx?ad=dirN&qo=investopediaSiteSearch&qsrc=0&o=40186
  4. http://www.iii.org/article/nine-ways-to-lower-your-auto-insurance-costs
  5. http://www.investopedia.com/terms/d/deductible.asp?ad=dirN&qo=investopediaSiteSearch&qsrc=0&o=40186
  6. http://www.thesimpledollar.com/how-much-does-car-insurance-cost/