Deciding When to Pay for an At-Fault Claim

If a car accident was your fault, you may be worried about skyrocketing insurance premiums. While there’s no way to tell how much your premiums will rise after a crash, or for how long, there are some factors you can consider before filing an at-fault insurance claim.

If you’re struggling to decide whether to pay for your own vehicle repairs or file a claim with your insurance company, here are some points to consider.

  • Was it a single-car crash or were other cars involved?

If you backed into a mail box or struck a utility pole at a low speed, the costs to repair your vehicle are usually low and you may want to consider paying them out of pocket. When there are no injuries and property damage is minimal, it can be cheaper to foot the bill than to risk an increase in insurance premiums. All at-fault claims, including single-car accidents, will be on your driving record for three years, which means you could be dealing with increased rates for awhile. In addition, if you have to file another at-fault claim within that time period, you will wish you had taken care of minor damages from a single-car crash on your own. Speak with your insurance representative for advice on how an at-fault claim will affect your driving record and your rates.

  • How do the costs of repairs compare to your deductible?

If your deductible is the same amount or more than the cost of repairs, you may want to pay for it yourself. You may be saving money in the long run by footing the bill.

  • Have you been found at fault for an accident or a traffic violation in the recent past?

While all insurance companies are different, most will record any accident or ticket for which you were found at fault for up to three years. Any additional at-fault claims or traffic violations on your record in that time frame will result in boosts to premiums, in all likelihood. In some cases, the insurance company may not renew your policy or may require you to obtain high-risk insurance until you have a clean driving record for three years. Even in cases where the repairs are more expensive than your deductible, you may find it advantageous to pay for the damage on your own rather than risk non-renewal of your insurance policy or skyrocketing rates.

What is your insurance provider’s surcharge limit?

Most insurance companies have a threshold for what they will pay for an at-fault accident without triggering additional surcharges and fees – usually, at about a $500 payout, but you’ll want to check your insurance provider to be sure. The surcharge limits means the insurance company will pay out that amount or less for an-fault claim without increasing your rates. Find out if you’re below the surcharge threshold to calculate how much you stand to collect without causing your rates to go up.