Some drivers are reluctant to report accidents to the insurance company fearing their rates will go up. Any accident involving another vehicle or another person’s property must be reported to the insurer since damages could be higher than anticipated and the insurer may deny coverage if there is a delay in reporting the claim. There are times when damages do not have to reported and drivers can save money by paying for repairs themselves. Here are some tips when reporting an accident to insurance.
1. Chips in Auto Glass
When rocks or debris from passing vehicles cause a chip in the windshield, chances are that the damage will be less than the policy deductible. Auto glass repair companies can usually fix these chips for under $100 so there is no need to report the damage to the insurance company. Even if the windshield has to be replaced, the cost is usually between $300 and $500 which is below the average comprehensive insurance deductible in the U.S. On the other hand, comprehensive claims do not typically raise insurance rates.
2. Dents in Parking Lots
Dents may be caused by loose shopping carts or by other drivers opening doors into the side of a parked car. These dents are usually minor and it is impossible to determine who was responsible for the damage. In most cases it is less expensive to repair the dents without reporting a claim to the insurance company than to report the claim which may be less than the collision deductible. These claims may be covered under comprehensive rather than collision coverage. Sometimes it is also possible to purchase little suction tools which can “pop out” small dents for as little as $20. That is something to think about before reporting an accident to insurance.
3. Single Car Accidents
Single car accidents are usually considered the fault of the driver and may raise insurance rates. These accidents are covered under the collision portion of the policy. If there was no damage to property other than the insured vehicle, and the damage is less than $2500, it may be better to pay for the repairs than reporting an accident to insurance which could result in a rate increase for up to three years. The exception is collisions with wildlife like deer, which are covered under comprehensive insurance and should not result in a rate increase.
4. Damage to the Driver’s Property
Occasionally, a driver or member of the insured person’s household listed on the policy will drive into the garage door or back into the house or hit another insured vehicle parked in the driveway. If the total damages are under $2000, it may be better to pay the costs out of pocket, especially if the at fault driver is under 25. In most cases, any at fault accident will raise the insurance premiums for the driver for three years which can be expensive when the driver is in a high risk group.
5. Damages Caused By Horseplay
While comprehensive coverage will pay for damages caused by the owner’s foolishness, it may be better not to report the damages if they are minor. Damage caused by jumping on the car or pushing someone into the car could be considered the fault of the insured person. Even damage caused by trying to retrieve keys which got locked in the car is best repaired out of pocket. In many cases the damages will be less than the deductible, and what the insurance company doesn’t know can’t hurt you.
It is important to be aware of the terms of the insurance policy which might permit the denial of coverage for accidents or damages that are not reported within a specific time period. Insurers may deduct the cost of old damage that was not repaired if the car is damaged in a covered accident that is reported. There should be no penalty for failure to report damages that are below the policy deductible since these will not result in any claim against the insurer.
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