When to File a Car Insurance Claim

Unsure when to file a car insurance claim and when to keep quiet? Although you should report all accidents to your insurance carrier, filing an insurance claim for a minor fender-bender may unnecessarily raise your car insurance rates.

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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...

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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...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP®

UPDATED: Jan 17, 2021

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Here's what you need to know...

  • Major or minor, you should report all accidents to your insurance company
  • Always be honest when filing your insurance claim or you may be held liable
  • Knowing when to file a car insurance claim will help keep your insurance premium costs down and your insurance record reputable

You’ve been involved in an accident, you may need to file an insurance claim. No matter how minor, insurance companies encourage you to report every incident.

Keep in mind that you need to be careful, or you could end up with a massive increase in your premium or even non-renewal of your policy!

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When to File a Car Insurance Claim?


In many cases, just one minor accident could raise your premium significantly. If you have a major accident, your insurance company could recommend that your policy is terminated when it comes time for renewal.

In the case of a minor accident where no other parties are involved, you may want to think very carefully before filing a claim. Survey your damage and know what your deductible is.

While many insurance companies have accident forgiveness policies that do not raise rates after the first claim, they will keep a record of all claims and review it periodically.

If you have concerns about nonrenewal, check with your state’s department of insurance to find out the specific guidelines that insurance companies must follow in your state to recommend nonrenewal of your policy.

Know your rights! Your insurance company cannot just cancel your insurance. If the policy has been in place for more than 60 days, your company can decide not to renew your policy, but they cannot just cut you off.

The exceptions to this are if your policy is unpaid or you are behind on your payments, your application for insurance was found to contain false information, or your license has been suspended or revoked.

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

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Should I File a Claim After a Major Accident?

In the case of most major accidents where other parties are involved, you will want to file an insurance claim as soon as possible, even if you weren’t at fault.

When you are not at fault, you may be tempted just to try to settle with the other party without involving insurance companies. Be very leery of this!

Repairs are often more than what you initially think they will cost. Also, injuries that are not apparent immediately may surface as time goes by.

If you are at fault, you need to report the accident to your insurance company because you may require their services for more than basic repair costs.

If the other party involved chooses to sue, you will want your insurance company there to protect your financial interests.

What do I Need to File an Insurance claim?


If you have had an accident, your first call should always be for emergency help if needed. If you are sure there are no injuries, then you must at least call the police.

Always disclose truthful facts to the police even if you are concerned with being at fault. If you lie, the truth will most likely be uncovered in an investigation and will be held against you.

Next, exchange insurance information with all other parties involved. If it is possible to see the other driver’s insurance card check the date to make sure the insurance policy is current and valid.

Get the investigating officer’s contact information as well as contact information for any witnesses. Your insurance company may ask for this. If you can, take pictures of the accident scene and damage to all vehicles involved.

You must then call your insurance company as soon as possible to report the accident. You should also notify the other driver’s insurance company.

An investigation will begin by the insurance company. An adjuster will usually be sent out to survey the damage to your vehicle so that a check to cover repair costs can be issued.

Knowing when to file a car insurance claim will help keep your insurance premium costs down and your insurance record reputable. This is not to say that you should never report an accident because it is often imperative that you do.

Despite this, you do not want to find yourself in a sticky situation with your insurance provider simply because you had a minor fender bender with your mailbox while backing out of your driveway one morning!

Now that you knows the ins and outs of filing a claim, enter your zip code below and start finding car insurance quotes today!

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