What is a Car Insurance Claim?

Last Updated on February 27, 2019

You file a car insurance claim when you need to use your car insurance policy. You’re making a “claim” on the policy and asking your insurance company to provide coverage based on the requirements outlined in your policy.

Sometimes, it’s obvious when you need to make an insurance claim. You’ve been involved in a collision and you need your insurance company to cover certain property damages or medical expenses.

Today, we’re explaining everything you need to know about filing a car insurance claim, including in which cases you should make a claim.

What is a Car Insurance Claim?

A car insurance claim is a request made to your insurance company. You’re “requesting” the insurance company to provide compensation based on the requirements outlined in your policy.

If you’ve been involved in an accident and you want your car insurance company to pay for repairs, then you would file a car insurance claim, for example.

When to File a Claim

car insurance claimIn general, you should file a claim any time you’ve been in a collision with your vehicle.

However, filing a claim isn’t always in your best interests. Sometimes, the cost of repairing your vehicle is less than your deductible. If someone keyed your car in a parking lot, for example, then it may only cost $300 to repair the damages – but you’d pay a $500 deductible if making a claim.

Your deductible is an amount of money you’re required to pay in order to make an insurance claim. A typical deductible is $500 or $1000.

When You’ve Been in an Accident

You should generally file a claim every time you’ve been in a collision. Even if the damages from the collision are minor, you might have significant bodily injuries that aren’t apparent at the time of the accident. A minor fender bender might look innocent – but your whiplash injuries could last for years. That’s why it’s always a good idea to file a claim for any type of collision or other accident.

Other Situations

It’s not always a good idea to file a claim. If your vehicle has gone through any of the following, then you may or may not want to file a claim:

In these situations, you likely don’t have bodily injuries resulting from the incident. Your car is damaged – but repairing that damage may cost less than your deductible.

The important thing here is this: don’t be afraid to talk to your insurance company if you’re unsure. Your insurance company won’t automatically make you pay your deductible the second you talk to them. Instead, they’ll help you decide if making a claim is worth the price – or if you’re better off paying out of pocket.

Some people will also avoid making a car insurance claim because they want to avoid higher insurance rates. If you’ve involved in a one car accident, for example, then you will be paying higher insurance costs for years into the future. You’re perceived as a riskier driver than someone who has never been involved in a collision. In this situation, you may want to pay for any vehicle injuries and medical expenses yourself. This is typically only done in minor collisions – it’s not a good idea if you totaled your vehicle or suffered significant medical injuries.

When Am I Required to Make an Insurance Claim?

There are certain situations where you’re required (or at least highly incentivized) to make an insurance claim, including all of the following:

  • Anyone is injured and your vehicle is involved. If your vehicle damaged other people, other drivers, your own passengers, or any pedestrians, then you’ll need to file a claim – especially if you’re at-fault. Medical expenses can quickly skyrocketed when multiple people are involved.
  • When fault isn’t clear. If property damage occurred after a collision and fault isn’t clear, then you need to file an insurance claim so your insurance company can represent you against the insurance company of the other driver.
  • Some insurance companies also require you to notify them when involved in any type of collision that could result in a claim – even if you don’t intend to file a claim.

Ultimately, if you decide to file a car insurance claim, then it’s best to do so as quickly as possible. Talk to your insurance company about filing a car insurance claim.

James Shaffer
James Shaffer James Shaffer is a writer for InsurancePanda.com and a well-seasoned auto insurance industry veteran. He has a deep knowledge of insurance rules and regulations and is passionate about helping drivers save money on auto insurance. He is responsible for researching and writing about anything auto insurance-related. He holds a bachelor's degree from Bentley University and his work has been quoted by NBC News, CNN, and The Washington Post.
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