Should you file a claim if you’ve been in a minor accident or a parking lot fender-bender? It’s a tough question. It’s common knowledge that filing a claim will almost certainly have an effect on your premiums for a period of time, but it’s almost impossible to know how much and for how long because insurance companies use such complex calculations to determine rates. However, there are a few general rules that you can follow to decide whether or not filing a claim will be to your advantage.
The first step towards deciding whether or not to file a claim begins here. Here are a few common situations where this question comes up:
After an auto accident, although it will depend upon the state, you typically have 10 days to file a claim. It could be as many as 30, but you should not wait that long. In fact, filing your claim within a day or two after the accident is the best way to go about it. Insurance companies, by law, must contact you within 10 days of your filing the claim. If they plan on inspecting the vehicle, most states stipulate that they must notify you within seven business days. Lastly, insurance companies have 30 days to settle a claim, or they must inform you if they need to take more time to investigate.
In this situation, you might be tempted to ask your insurance agent whether or not you should make a claim. Before you do that, you should find out whether or not he or she is obligated to tell your insurance provider if you asked them questions about filing a claim. In some situations, your agent has to tell your insurance company if you ask about a claim and your rates can go up whether you file one or not.
If the accident involves any sort of personal injury or the risk of a lawsuit, you should always file a claim. Cases that involve medical care are complex and can quickly turn sour. Even if the injury seems minor, you’re going to want your insurance company on your side. They have access to legal counsel and resources that you probably couldn’t afford on your own.
It is important to remember that you are under time constraints after an auto accident. You need to act responsibly and quickly to ensure there is written documentation of your claim and to strengthen your case.