You got into a car collision, now what? This situation may leave you wondering – should you file a claim with your insurance or pay out of pocket for the damages yourself? What if other people are involved? What if the only damages are to your own property?
Your insurance is there to help in these situations. You pay your premium specifically to provide protection from having to large repair costs. And oftentimes, damage to your vehicle may be more serious than they appear on the surface following a collision.
When the accident happens, you don’t have the full facts on the damage. What may look like minor surface damage on the outside, such as bumper damage, could actually be much more serious internally, such as frame and structural damage that may not be noticeable right away, or damage to the structure of the door rather than just a dent on the outside. This also stands true for any people involved in the collision – internal bodily injuries or problems like whiplash might not show up for several days following the accident. These injuries can cause permanent damage and may results in hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills.
Regardless, if the collision involved another person’s body, vehicle or property, filing a claim with your insurance company should be top of your list. If the other driver was at fault, their insurance will cover damages made to your car. If you were at fault for the collision, your insurance should pay for any damage you caused and cover damage to your own vehicle as well, subject to your deductible.
For single-car, at-fault accidents, meaning you were the only one involved, the collision was your fault, and the only property damaged was your own – such as backing into a tree on your property while pulling out of your driveway – you should still file a claim with your insurance. Collision coverage would cover the cost of the damage to your vehicle, and comprehensive insurance would cover any damage caused while you’re not driving it, such as a branch falling on it.
“It can seem like it may be the easier option to settle the damages without involving your insurance company, but that opens you up to potentially incurring major expenses down the road,” said Kevin Quinn, vice president of claims and customer experience at Mercury Insurance. “Damage might not always be as superficial as it looks, whether that’s injuries, vehicle or property damage. If you fail to file an insurance claim and something goes wrong, you’re running the risk of being held responsible for any further damage a seemingly small issue may cause.”
Filing an insurance claim and a police report following a collision helps to make sure you’re properly covered for any major expenses that could come down the line. And if it turns out that the damage was minor after all, you’re no worse off paying your deductible to repair the damage than you would have been settling without your insurance involved.