Auto insurance is one of the few things you buy but never want to use. When you do need to use it, however, having the proper insurance coverage can save you thousands of dollars. Having the proper type and amount of vehicle insurance is important to every driver and should be seriously considered before you get behind the wheel.

The question occasionally comes up, “When should I file an insurance claim?” The answer to that is “just about any time your car gets damaged or you cause damage to another person or their property,” with a few exceptions. Those few exceptions are times when you may have caused damage only to your own vehicle, such as backing into a pole or your mailbox, and you don’t have the insurance needed to cover that type of damage or the damage is so minor you elect to pay for repairs out of your own pocket. You could also decide not to fix the damage.

Premium Rate Hikes

While you may be fearful that reporting an accident to your insurance company may cause them to increase your premium rates, this shouldn’t stop you from filing a claim, especially if someone else is involved in the incident. A minor accident, such as a dented fender that you caused, may seem simple enough to handle with a fair cash payment between drivers, but this can sometimes cause problems.

If the damage is more significant, you should notify your insurer immediately, even from the accident scene if possible. This will allow them to possibly send out an adjuster immediately to take a look at the scene. Exchange information with the other driver at the scene and take photos of all documents. Information to be obtained includes:

  • Names
  • Addresses
  • Telephone numbers
  • Insurance details
  • Driver’s license
  • License plate number

Also take photos of the vehicles involved from as many angles as possible and contact the authorities.

When Not To File

There are a few instances where you may decide not to file a claim. As mentioned earlier, a minor accident involving only your car and no damage to other property needn’t necessarily be claimed. Your deductible may be higher than repair costs.