When Not to File a Car Insurance Claim

If the cost of the damage doesn’t exceed your deductible or you damaged your own vehicle and only have liability coverage, it may not be worth it to file a claim.

Anna Baluch
Written byAnna Baluch
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Anna BaluchInsurance Writer
  • 4+ years writing insurance and personal finance content

  • MBA from Roosevelt University

Anna leverages her personal finance and insurance knowledge to create educational content that helps people make smart financial decisions.

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Katie Powers
Edited byKatie Powers
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Katie PowersAuto and Life Insurance Editor
  • Licensed auto and home insurance agent

  • 3+ years experience in insurance and personal finance editing

Katie uses her knowledge and expertise as a licensed property and casualty agent in Massachusetts to help readers understand the complexities of insurance shopping.

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Updated March 26, 2024 | Reading time: 4 minutes

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If you get into an accident or your vehicle sustains damage, you can file an auto insurance claim. While it may be tempting to proceed with the process, you should take a close look at your situation and determine whether filing a claim makes sense. In some cases, not filing a claim may be in your best interest.

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When it doesn’t make sense to file a car insurance claim

Not filing a car insurance claim can actually save you more money than filing one in some cases, depending on the vehicle damage and your coverage specifics. Often, filing a claim can lead your insurer to raise your rates, so there may be times when it’s cheaper in the long run not to file.

Here are a few scenarios in which you should think twice before filing a claim.

The cost of damages doesn’t exceed your deductible

If you have a fender bender or minor car accident that leaves your vehicle with a small dent or other minor damage, you may be better off paying for your repairs out of pocket. It may cost less to cover the repairs on your own than paying your deductible

For example, if your deductible is $1,000 and it only costs $300 to repair your vehicle, holding off on a claim and using the funds in your bank account can save you money.

You accidentally damaged your vehicle and only have liability coverage

Unless you have collision coverage or comprehensive coverage, filing a claim because you backed into a mailbox or accidentally damaged your vehicle yourself won’t result in a payout for you. Instead, you should get an estimate and cover the repairs out of pocket. Reaching out to your insurer to file a claim and ask for compensation will likely increase your premiums.

You don’t want to fix the damage after a single-car, no-injury accident

You may decide that it’s not worth fixing the damage after a single-car accident with no injuries. This is particularly true if you have an older vehicle or you have plans to purchase a new one in the near future.

Will your rates go up if you file a claim?

Whether your car insurance premiums will increase after you file a claim depends on the circumstances of the accident and your status with your auto insurance company.

If you have a minor accident that wasn’t your fault and have been a loyal policyholder with a clean driving record, your auto insurance rates may not increase. On the other hand, if you cause a major accident and your driving history already has past traffic violations, you can expect a rate increase.

For Example

Let’s say the cost to fix your damaged windshield caused by another driver is $1,000. If you have a $500 deductible, you’ll pay $500 to a repair shop for the damage after filing a claim. If you don’t file a claim, you’ll pay $1,000 for the repairs.

Here’s a breakdown of the expected increase in premiums each year if you filed a claim in this scenario. The net cost of submitting the claim through insurance would add up to $2,320 ($1,820 in increased premiums plus the $500 deductible). It would cost far more to file the claim than the $1,000 to just pay it out of pocket.

Years LaterIncrease to Six-Month PolicyIncrease to Month-to-Month Policy
1$364$61
2$273$46
3$182$30
4$91$15
5$0$0
Disclaimer: Table data sourced from real-time quotes from Insurify's 50-plus partner insurance providers. Actual quotes may vary based on the policy buyer's unique driver profile.

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When it makes sense to file a car insurance claim

Filing an auto insurance claim may make sense in a number of situations, including if you damage another driver’s vehicle or injure someone.

You should file a car insurance claim in the following scenarios.

You damage someone else’s vehicle in a major at-fault accident

If you cause an accident that leads to significant damage to another party’s vehicle, you should definitely file a claim as the at-fault driver. 

Be sure to exchange information with them at the scene of the accident so that you have one another’s name, address, phone number, insurance policy details, license plate number, and driver’s license. Then, contact your car insurance company or insurance agent as soon as possible to start the claim process.

The accident results in an injury

A car accident that results in bodily injury always warrants an auto insurance claim. Your minimum liability coverage, which state law typically requires, can cover the medical expenses of another party if you’re at fault. 

Even if the injury seems minor or they say they’re okay, it’s a good idea to file a claim. Many injuries, like whiplash, may take time to fully appear and require medical treatment. Your liability insurance can cover the resulting medical bills for a hospital stay or X-ray.

Your car has major damage and you have collision insurance

Collision insurance can protect you financially if you collide with another vehicle or object, regardless of fault. If your vehicle sustains major damage in a single-vehicle auto accident and you’ve invested in collision insurance, filing a car insurance claim with your insurance company is smart. It’ll typically cover your repairs, minus the deductible.

Your car has major damage from a non-collision accident and you have comprehensive insurance

Comprehensive coverage helps pay for damage from non-collision sources, such as theft, vandalism, and extreme weather events. If you have this type of car insurance and would like to repair vehicle damage from a covered loss, you should file a claim to take advantage of the extra insurance coverage you paid for.

Car insurance claim FAQs

It’s important to understand when to file a claim and how filing can affect your insurance premiums. The following information should help answer your questions about car insurance claims.

  • Why do insurers deny auto insurance claims?

    Insurance companies may deny your car insurance claims if your policy doesn’t cover the peril that resulted in damage or if you don’t pay premiums. Other common reasons for denials include fraudulent claims, insufficient coverage, missing the filing deadline, or failing to seek immediate medical attention after an accident.

  • What do you do if someone hits your car and leaves a note with their insurance information?

    You should make a phone call to contact the insurance company and file a claim. As long as the other driver is at fault, their insurer and car insurance policy should provide payment to repair any damage to your vehicle.

  • Why would someone not file an insurance claim?

    Reasons to not file a claim include: The cost to repair your vehicle doesn’t exceed the deductible, you caused your own damage and only have liability insurance, and you don’t want to make repairs after a single-vehicle accident.

  • Should you file a claim before getting an estimate?

    It’s a good idea to get an estimate prior to filing a claim if your vehicle sustained damage in a single-car accident with no other people involved.

Methodology

Insurify data scientists analyzed more than 90 million quotes served to car insurance applicants in Insurify’s proprietary database to calculate the premium averages displayed on this page. These premiums are real quotes that come directly from Insurify’s 50+ partner insurance companies in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Quote averages represent the median price for a quote across the given coverage level, driver subset, and geographic area.

Unless otherwise specified, quoted rates reflect the average cost for drivers between 20 and 70 years old with a clean driving record and average or better credit (a credit score of 600 or higher).

Liability-only premium averages correspond to policies with the following coverage limits:

  • Bodily injury limits between state-minimum rates and $50,000 per person, $100,000 per accident
  • Property damage limits between $10,000 and $50,000
  • No additional coverage
Full-coverage premium averages correspond to the same bodily injury and property damage limits in addition to:
  • Comprehensive coverage with a $1,000 deductible
  • Collision coverage with a $1,000 deductible

Quotes for Allstate, Farmers, GEICO, State Farm, and USAA are estimates based on Quadrant Information Services’ database of auto insurance rates.

Anna Baluch
Anna BaluchInsurance Writer

Anna Baluch is a Cleveland-based personal finance and insurance expert. With an MBA from Roosevelt University, she enjoys writing educational content that helps people make smart financial decisions. Her work can be seen across the internet on many publications, including Freedom Debt Relief, Credit Karma, RateGenius, and the Balance. Connect with Anna on LinkedIn.

Katie Powers
Edited byKatie PowersAuto and Life Insurance Editor
Photo of an Insurify author
Katie PowersAuto and Life Insurance Editor
  • Licensed auto and home insurance agent

  • 3+ years experience in insurance and personal finance editing

Katie uses her knowledge and expertise as a licensed property and casualty agent in Massachusetts to help readers understand the complexities of insurance shopping.

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