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When Should You File A Claim?

Here’s a scenario: you’re driving through your neighborhood when suddenly a little dog darts out into the street. You swerve to avoid Rover causing your tire to hit the curb with a loud thud!

Upon inspection you discover the rim is bent. The wheel needs to be repaired and since you carry full coverage on your car you grab the phone to call your insurance company.

Hold on a sec! Should you call them and file a claim for the damage?

Most of us know the basics when it comes to the auto claims process. If you carry “full coverage” that means you pay for comprehensive and collision protection in your premiums.

Comprehensive (a.k.a “other than collision”) covers things like a fire, theft, vandalism, hail damage, and glass breakage.

Collision coverage applies to damage your car sustains from striking another vehicle or object.

Your deductible is the cost you must pay out of pocket for the repairs.

Now that you know the difference between collision and comprehensive terms, you’re probably still wondering whether or not to file a claim. Here’s the best answer: call your agent!

Why should you call us before you call your insurance company?

On the surface this seems like a pretty open and shut case. You had a minor accident, no one was hurt, (meanwhile Rover didn’t even walk over to lick your hand in appreciation for not mowing him down with your car) and you pay your insurance company every month to cover such repairs.

That’s what insurance is for, right?

It’s true that your coverage is there to pay for accidents, and of course you’re responsible if you damage someone else’s property or if you cause an injury. But filing a claim for some damages isn’t always the best move.

Your agent knows that often making a claim against your own policy simply isn’t worth it. The potential to negatively impact your insurance score may well outweigh the value of having the company pay for your repairs.

For example, if you carry a $1000 deductible and the insurance adjuster determines the damage to be only $700, well now you’ve filed a claim against your company but because the cost is less than your deductible, they aren’t going to pay to fix that dented wheel.

You may now be thinking, “so what? If the company didn’t pay to fix my tire, then it doesn’t count.”

What most people don’t know is DOES count. Every time you call in a claim it is officially recorded. Once you make that phone call to the company claims department, they are required to log it and apply it to your policy.

Even if they don’t pay a dime to you.

Again, it may not seem like a big deal, but say you have a few glass claims on your history from rock chips thanks to the never-ending road construction. When you banged up your tire, now you’ve added that collision claim to your record.Then a few months later a big hail storm hits and your car gets totaled in the process.

Sound familiar?

 

Your claim history can and does affect your insurance score which in turn affects your rates.

That’s the beauty of working with an independent agency like United Insurance Agencies & Affordable Auto Insurance. 

When you call us before you file a claim, we can walk you through the process and give advice so you can make the most informed decision.

In the scenario we laid out at the top, if you had called us first, we likely would have recommended you take the car to a tire shop for an estimate before reporting the claim.

They could have told you the cost of the repairs was less than your deductible and then you could have kept this claim off of your record!

Still, we know that not everyone will think to call us first when an accident happens. That’s another reason why independent agents are great!

If your rates do go up with one company due to claims, we have other carriers to check and see if we can get you a better price elsewhere!


Do you find yourself wondering how this whole thing called “insurance” really works? Confused by the terminology and wish you could just have someone to explain it all? Call your friendly agent today with any questions! We’re happy to help! 402-492-8020

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