Not a day goes by when one of our customers doesn’t have an auto accident. Culbertson Agency insures nearly 3000 cars in Fort Myers, Cape Coral and the surrounding area so we take in a lot of calls to open a claim. Many customers come to our insurance agency because of price, but stay because of our outstanding servicing, and in particular claims handling. One of the questions our agents are frequently asked is “should I open a claim on my auto insurance” and we are more than happy to give our professional and personal opinion as your local agency.
If you’re in an auto accident with another car or if you have a passenger(s) in your vehicle, then it is in your best interest and our recommendation to open a claim. There could be long-term health impacts for the drivers or passengers that would be covered under your insurance policy. If there is a chance someone else in the accident could claim they were injured, you should file the claim to protect yourself from an injury lawsuit.
Many of our auto insurance policies include an Accident Forgiveness feature, which can factor into the claim filing decision as well.
However, if only your car is involved in the accident and there are no passengers below we indicate 5 times when you might consider not filing an auto insurance claim.
(1) Your deductible is higher than the amount of your claim
Let’s say you are backing out of your garage and you run into your basketball goal in the driveway and put a small dent in your bumper. You go to your local Southwest Florida collision center and they estimate the repairs to be $700. If you currently had a $1000 deductible, there would be an insurance pay out on this claim and thus would be no reason to file or open the claim. Again, this is assuming no one was injured in the accident, and damage was only done to your property.
(2) The claim is only slightly higher than your deductible
Same situation as the example above, except this time you currently have a $500 deductible. By filing the claim your insurance policy would pay $200 towards the repairs and you would pay the other $500. If you are getting the safe driver discount, you could lose that by filing this claim, thus causing an increase with your premiums. Many of our customers choose to absorb the extra cost in this case to keep their insurance record clean.
(3) It’s not your fault
Typically when you are not at fault in an accident, we recommend you get the other party’s auto insurance companies name, policy number and phone number and file the claim with their insurance company. However, if you think there might be a dispute on who is at-fault in the accident or you have sustained injuries, it is still recommended to open a claim so your auto insurance company can work as your advocate as needed.
(4) Your policy excludes collision or comprehensive coverage
If there are no injuries in the accident, and only your car is damaged, and you do not have collision or comprehensive coverage, there would not be a reason to really open up a claim. However, if there is damage to another person’s property, then we would need to open a claim under your property damage coverage.
(5) You’ve had other recent claims
Filing many claims in the same year could trigger an increase to your insurance premiums. If you’re facing numerous claims, you might consider paying the smaller ones out of pocket.
The other party wants to personally settle without involving the insurance companies.
OK … this is a very tricky one and not one of the 5 times we'd recommend not filing an auto insurance claim. My professional recommendation is to go ahead and involve the insurance companies.
Some of our customers decide to settle on their own with the other party, but be very careful, especially if you weren’t at fault and suffered damages. What is very common is that customers underestimate how much it is going to cost to fix their car. A small dent in your bumper may cost a lot more than you think. In addition, because injuries aren’t always immediate and apparent, you should report the accident in case you sustain injuries that show up in a day or two after the accident and you need medical treatment.
Other things you might consider when deciding whether or not to file an auto insurance claim
In all accidents when another party is involved, you should have the police show up on the scene and provide a neutral and written account of the accident. This would give you documentation of the accident, including the time and date, conditions, injuries and in some cases responsibility.
Once you contact your auto insurance company, your information will remain in your file for several years. Florida auto insurance companies share information and policyholders’ histories. However you have auto insurance for a reason, and if the damage is extensive or above what you are comfortable paying, it is appropriate to take advantage of the auto insurance you’ve been paying those premiums on
Local Fort Myers insurance agents at the Culbertson Agency can advise you on the estimated discount(s) you may lose when you are considering filing an auto insurance claim. In all instances when other parties are involved whether they be passengers, other vehicles or other’s property, we advise you to open a claim, and would be very happy in assisting you and advising you in this process.
Don't hesitate to give us a call anytime at (239) 210-7700 for more information on whether or not to file an auto claim or home insurance claim on your Florida policy. Or use the live chat feature or contact forms on this website and we'll be happy to answer your questions. Culbertson Agency is here to serve you!