How Many Auto Insurance Claims Can You Make in a Year?
Last Updated on October 17, 2020
If you’ve already made one or two insurance claims this year, then you may be concerned about making another claim.
Is there a limit to how many car insurance claims you can make in a year? Will insurers cancel your policy if you make too many claims?
Most insurers define “multiple claims” as more than one claim within a three year period. However, rules vary between insurers and states. Rules also vary based on the type of claim. Multiple at-fault accidents in a single year could lead to non-renewal, for example, but multiple comprehensive insurance claims will not.
Insurance Companies Have a Three Year Window for Insurance Claims
Most insurance companies do not care about how many claims you make in a one year period. Instead, most insurers use a three-year window.
If you make two or more at-fault insurance claims within a three-year window, then you may face non-renewal. That means the insurance company will not renew your policy when it expires. You will need to find a new insurer.
At-fault insurance claims are the most serious types of insurance claims. An at-fault insurance claim is an accident where you were found at-fault. If you caused an accident last year, for example, and then caused another accident last week, then your insurer might consider you to have multiple claims.
This rule generally applies to at-fault liability claims – not comprehensive claims. To understand the number of claims you can make in a year, it helps to understand the type of claims.
Types of Car Insurance Claims
Most car insurance claims fall into one of the three categories below:
Liability Claims: You have liability insurance for other drivers and people. If you hit another vehicle, for example, then that driver can use your liability insurance to cover damages and medical bills. If you hit a pedestrian, then that pedestrian can make a claim through your liability insurance to recover any damages. Liability insurance is mandatory in all states except Virginia and New Hampshire.
Collision Claims: Collision coverage covers your own vehicle after an accident. If you caused an accident, then insurance will pay a collision claim on your vehicle. They’ll cover the cost of repairing your vehicle and make it whole again. Collision coverage is optional in all states.
Comprehensive Claim: Comprehensive coverage covers damage that occurs outside of an accident. It covers theft, vandalism, hail damage, storm damage, and fire damage, for example.
In the eyes of your insurance company, comprehensive claims are the least serious. Hail might damage your car multiple times in a three-year window, for example, because you live in a hail-prone region. Generally, you can make at least three comprehensive claims within a three-year window without raising suspicion. If you have more than three comprehensive claims in a three-year window, however, then your insurer might look at claims more closely.
Liability claims, meanwhile, are more serious. A liability claim means your actions affected another person or another person’s property. Your insurer might be required to pay medical bills, lost wages, and vehicle repair expenses, among other costs.
Overall, as long as your insurance claims are legitimate, you have nothing to worry about. Insurers lose billions to fraud every year. Most drivers do not make multiple claims within a three-year window. When a driver has a history of making many claims, the insurer might look more closely at future claims. The insurer will cover any legitimate claims. However, if you have an excessive number of claims, then the insurer may not renew your policy – or cancel your policy altogether.
Too Many Claims Could Lead to Non-Renewal or Cancelation
Insurance companies could fail to renew your insurance policy if you make multiple claims in a three year period.
If your policy has non-renewal status, then it will not be renewed after its end date. If your policy is scheduled to end four months from now, for example, then you might need to find another insurer before that expiry date.
Alternatively, some insurers may immediately cancel your policy, although this is rare. Most insurance policies have language requiring fraud or non-payment to cancel your policy. If you commit insurance fraud, or if you did not pay your premiums, then your insurer can cancel your policy immediately. Otherwise, your insurer must cover you to the end dates of your policy.
Consider Paying a Claim Out of Pocket
Making too many claims in a three-year window could lead to non-renewal. In this case, it may be best to pay for a claim out of pocket. Paying for a claim out of pocket could help you avoid cancelation. It could also help you avoid higher insurance rates.
If you scraped your car driving into your garage, for example, then you could file a claim for an at-fault, single-vehicle accident. You would pay your deductible, and your insurance company would cover the cost of repairing the damage. However, your insurer would also treat this like an at-fault accident, which could mean higher insurance premiums.
In this case, you may be better off paying for a claim out of pocket. It may cost $500 to repair the damage, but it helps you avoid higher insurance premiums.
Check your Insurance Policy for Other Rules
Ultimately, multiple claims rules vary widely between insurers. Some insurers have no rules on multiple claims, allowing you to make as many claims as you like within a three-year window with minimal penalty. Other insurers will not renew your policy after just two claims.
Check your insurance policy documents or contact your insurer and ask about:
Accident Forgiveness: Some insurers forgive a single accident every 3 to 5 years. With accident forgiveness, your first or second accident may be treated differently. If your current car insurance policy does not have accident forgiveness, many insurers offer this as an add-on for a small additional monthly fee.
Aggregate Limits: Aggregate limits are common in business insurance and health insurance policies, but they’re found in some car insurance policies as well. Your insurer may only be required to pay out $500,000 every 12 months, for example. If you have multiple costly claims within a brief period, then you could hit your aggregate limit. You may think that aggregate limits are unfair, but insurance companies keep them to limit their exposure to catastrophic payouts.
Rules on Multiple Claims: Some insurance policies have specific rules regarding multiple claims, while others do not. Check the fine print of your policy, or ask your insurance agent, to see if there are limits on the number of claims you can make.
Final Word on Making Multiple Insurance Claims
Some drivers have an unlucky streak. Other drivers live in a rough neighborhood or a disaster-prone region. Some drivers just have unique circumstances.
Insurance companies have your back through unexpected situations. As long as your claims are legitimate, you should have no issue filing multiple claims each year. Too many claims within a three-year window, however, could be grounds for non-renewal.
It doesn’t matter if claims are one week apart or two years apart: insurance companies pay attention to a three-year window for insurance claims, although they care less about a one year window.
Check your insurance policy or contact your insurance company for further information. They can help decide if making a claim is worth it – or if you’re better off paying out of pocket.