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Should You File a Claim for These 5 Common Types of Auto Accidents?

By June 11, 2020No Comments

Should You File a Claim for These 5 Common Types of Auto Accidents?

Do you take pride in your clean driving record? You’ve had no accidents, no tickets, and you always wear your seat belt. The most basic auto insurance policy is the best option for you, right? Well, you may be lacking the coverage you need to protect yourself and others in the event of an unexpected accident.

Despite how you much pride you may have in being a safe driver, it seems inevitable that you won’t find yourself in a fender-bender accident or with an unexpected crack in your windshield at least once or twice during your time as a driver. No matter the scenario,  an accident is never fun and neither is the resulting damage or paying for the repair costs.  Whether you’ve dented your bumper, developed deep paint scratches or otherwise damaged your car, you will likely be asked to fork over anywhere from $50 to $1,500 (or more) just to cover the cost of repairs to your vehicle. While your insurance (assuming you are carrying the proper coverage) should cover your auto repair costs, you may be surprised to know that it doesn’t always make sense to file a claim. Depending on the type of insurance, a claim can increase your rates at renewal time.

In this blog post, we will take a look at five common accident scenarios and give you a rough estimate of the cost to repair damages associated with each scenario. We will also discuss the type of auto insurance coverage you will need to cover the damage and repair costs, as well as if it makes sense to file a claim on your insurance policy to cover these expenses. Hang tight as we cruise through each scenario!

First up, the dented bumper.

We’ve all had a dented bumper AT LEAST once, right? Whether you were backing up and didn’t see that telephone pole behind you or you’ve hit a patch of ice in the parking lot and your brakes let you down, your bumper is left with scratches and dents that aren’t pretty to look at. So, how much does it cost to repair these damages and is it worth filing a claim?

Bumper repair costs vary depending on the severity of the damage and the type of car you have. Many bumpers these days have sensors and cameras to help avoid collisions while backing up which can mean more costly repairs. Pricing to replace a bumper ranges from a few hundred dollars for an average car to thousands of dollars for a high-end sports car.

Depending on the damage, you may be able to fix it yourself with a few tools that you may already have laying around the house. However, if your auto insurance policy includes collision coverage, this will take care of car bumper repair subject to your deductible.

Collision coverage  pays for damage to your own car caused in a collision — not only accidents with other cars but also objects, such as a telephone pole. Collision coverage is not a required coverage type and it does have a deductible which is what you will pay out of pocket for the cost of the repairs. A common deductible amount is $500. That means if you had $1,500 worth of damage to your car, your insurance company would cut a check for $1,000 and you would need to pay the $500 balance.

If you also damaged a telephone pole or any other property during your accident, your property damage liability coverage, which is required by law, should pay for that repair.

Should you file a claim?

There is no right or wrong answer when asking this question and it truly depends on your personal circumstances. However, in this scenario, if you decide to make a claim your insurance premium will likely increase at renewal time.

If you’re at fault for the dented bumper, you can expect an increase in your auto insurance rate, but if you were not at-fault then your insurance company may give you a break. One more thing to consider when making a collision claim is that you may lose any “no claims” bonus or discount that you may have been receiving once you submit a claim which can also cause your rate to increase. 

Our advice from Lewis and Wallace Associates, Inc. is to pay out of pocket for any minor damages if you can afford them and make a claim against your car insurance policy for major damage repairs. This allows you to carry a higher deductible (which saves money) and by only claiming major damages, the amount of claims that you have should be fewer which will also help to  keep your premiums down over the years. 

 

Second on the list, deep paint scratches.

Damage to your vehicle’s paint job from falling objects, vandalism, or natural disasters are all scenarios that you just can’t predict. But, you can choose to add comprehensive coverage to your auto policy so that you aren’t left to foot the bill when the unexpected happens. If you’re asking yourself, “how expensive would a paint job really be?”, we’ve come up with a few numbers for you. 

Let’s assume that one entire side of your vehicle is severely damaged. On the cheap side, a single-stage enamel paint that refreshes the look of the car can range anywhere from $300 to $1,000 depending on the type of vehicle. In this scenario, you will likely need some repair work and a more detailed paint job to take care of the massive scratches in the side of your vehicles which could push the price range up to $1,000 to $3,500. If you’re looking for a top of the line paint job or are driving a luxury vehicle, the cost can easily jump up to a whopping $7,000. Comprehensive coverage sounds pretty great for anyone in this kind of scenario, doesn’t it? 

Although comprehensive coverage is not a required coverage, it is definitely worth considering as it will pay for damages to your car that are caused by something other than a collision. Comprehensive coverage does come with a deductible that you can choose and in most cases, the higher your deductible the lower your premium. Here are just a few scenarios it will cover:

  • Theft
  • Vandalism
  • Damage done to your car by animals, such as hitting a deer
  • Civil disturbance, such as a riot
  • Natural disasters
  • Water damage
  • Fire
  • Falling objects

Should you file a claim?

Since you’re not at fault in most circumstances, a comprehensive coverage claim should not raise your premium. As long as the claim amount is significantly more than your deductible, or more than you can comfortably pay out of pocket, you should consider making a claim. 

 

Our third scenario is a chipped or cracked windshield.

Cracked windshields can happen very suddenly and unexpectedly. You’re driving down the highway and as you pass an 18-wheeler, it kicks up a rock that hits your windshield in just the right spot causing a chip or crack in your vehicle’s windshield. Now what do you do? Well, if it’s small and unnoticeable you may be tempted to leave it alone, but we advise that you get your windshield repaired as soon as possible to prevent the crack from spreading.

According to an estimate from Safelite, repairing a small crack on the windshield of a Toyota Camry will cost roughly $110 while an entire windshield replacement can cost $410. Thankfully, windshield replacement or repair is a service that is covered when your auto policy includes comprehensive coverage. Details vary by insurance carrier but most insurers will allow you to have your windshield replaced once a year for a small deductible, or in some cases, no deductible at all. If you act swiftly to have the crack repaired before it spreads across the windshield, most insurance companies will waive the deductible.

Should you make a claim?

Absolutely!  You can get a new windshield or that pesky chip in your glass repaired for free or a small deductible. There is almost no downside to making a claim for a cracked windshield to be repaired and in almost all cases your premium will not be affected at the time of renewal. 

 

Number four on the list is suspension damage.

You’ve hit a huge pothole that damages your car’s suspension–ouch! The cost to repair suspension damage will vary greatly depending on the severity of the damage. The suspension system is made up of a variety of parts and repair costs can quickly add up with a full suspension replacement costing up to $5,000. Costs for repair to individual areas of the suspension system will vary and likely cost a few hundred dollars. 

Should I file a claim?

If your auto insurance policy includes collision coverage, the damage caused by your vehicle “colliding” with the pothole may be covered in this type of scenario. However, collision coverage does come with a deductible and the damage may not be enough to make filing a claim worthwhile. Unless the damage is significant and you can’t afford to cover the cost of the damage out of pocket, we advise not to file a claim. The majority of the repairs would fall under your deductible amount even if you are carrying a low deductible, such as $500, so it wouldn’t make sense to file a claim. Filing a collision claim will almost always result in a premium increase so it’s wise to save your insurance claims for major repairs and pay for smaller ones out of pocket.

 

Last on the list is rear end damage.

According to data from the National Transportation Safety Board,  there are roughly 1.7 million rear-end collisions in the U.S. every year that kill 1,700 people and injure another 500,000. It’s almost impossible to put a price tag on this kind of damage considering rear bumper replacement costs can range from a few hundred dollars to replace a bumper up to $10,000 or more if the frame of your car is bent.

In this scenario of a rear end collision, you are not at fault so the driver who rear-ended you should pay for the damages assuming he has coverage. The damage to your vehicle would fall under the property damage portion of your neighbor’s liability policy. While most industry experts recommend carrying $50,000 in property damage, not everyone follows that advice. If the driver who caused the damage  is only carrying the required state minimums, you may find yourself responsible for covering the costs to repair your car. If they are completely uninsured, or carrying low coverage levels, your own collision coverage (assuming you have it) will cover the cost to repair or replace your vehicle.

If you failed to add collision coverage to your auto insurance policy (we highly recommend that you carry collision coverage) your last chance to avoid a big out of pocket expense is an uninsured/under-insured motorist property damage policy. This coverage kicks in to repair or replace your vehicle if the person who hit you is uninsured or not carrying enough coverage to fix your car.

Should I file a claim?

In this particular situation, the other driver’s insurance should pay for both the damage to your car and your body. If they’re uninsured, you may have to turn to your own policy, assuming you are carrying uninsured/under-insured coverage. If you declined this coverage and the person that hit you is uninsured, you may be on the hook for the damages, or headed to court if you decide to sue the other driver.

 

We are here to shine light on your insurance needs!

Our goal at Lewis and Wallace Associates, Inc is to treat our customer’s insurance policies as our own. We value integrity and honesty and work hard to provide the very best experience for our customers. If you have any questions about the types of coverage you currently have included in your auto insurance policy or you would like a free quote to determine if our agency can save you money on your monthly insurance costs, give us a call today! We are happy to answer your questions and provide a fast, free quote with no obligations. 

To request a quote, click here.