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When it comes to car insurance, most drivers understand how important the right policy is for their finances. While coverage varies based on the type of policy you purchase, the limits you choose and other factors, the goal of having a car insurance policy is to help protect you financially if you are involved in an accident.
That said, there are certain situations in which it may not make sense to file a claim with your car insurance provider. Take, for example, a fender bender, which is a minor accident which typically results in cosmetic damage to your vehicle. If you’re involved in a fender bender that results in minor bumper damage, you may face a dilemma regarding whether to file a claim with your insurance. Depending on the extent of the damage, it may not make sense to file a claim for bumper dents or dings, so it’s important to know when you should and shouldn’t ask your insurance company to foot the bill.
Should I file an insurance claim for bumper damage?
If your vehicle has been involved in a fender bender, you may be asking yourself, “Should I file an insurance claim for bumper damage?” Before you file an insurance claim for any event that impacts your vehicle, it may be helpful to consider the consequences.
Remember that any claim you make could cause your premiums to rise for the next few years, and if you need to have your car repaired, you may also need to pay for your deductible out of pocket. Prior to filing a claim with your insurance for a fender bender, it may be useful to answer the following questions first:
Was another driver involved?
If another driver is involved in a loss, the situation is generally more complex than if you are the only driver. When two or more drivers are involved in a loss, filing a claim could help you handle the situation more smoothly. You could still opt to handle the situation out of pocket, though, if you feel that you have the finances to do so and the other parties are willing.
Was anyone injured?
If you, your passenger or another motorist is injured in the fender bender accident, you may want to consider informing your insurance company as soon as possible, regardless of who was responsible. Trying to keep the event from your insurance company and paying for it out of your pocket could result in consequences later on, such as a lawsuit for injuries.
How much is the cost of damage compared to your deductible?
If the accident did not involve another driver but the expenses to repair the bumper damage is more than your car insurance deductible, filing a claim may make sense. However, if the cost is lower than your deductible, filing a claim won’t result in any payout for your damage and could still increase your premium at renewal.
When to consider filing a claim for a fender bender
There are a few instances when you could consider filing a claim for bumper damage, such as:
- When you have to pay liability coverage for another driver: If there is another driver involved and you need to pay for damage or medical bills, you may need to inform your insurance company and file a claim.
- When you cannot afford the expenses: If the cost is higher than your deductible and too steep for you to pay by yourself, filing an insurance claim could be your best option.
- When it was not your fault: If your bumper damage was the fault of the other motorist, it may be necessary to involve your insurance company and try to get liability coverage from the other party.
When to consider not filing a claim for a fender bender
In certain instances of a fender bender collision, filing a claim could invite more problems with your insurance company. You could consider not filing a claim for bumper damage if:
- Only your vehicle is damaged: If no other motorist was involved and you do not have to pay for liability, you may choose to fix your vehicle out of your own pocket. Not filing a claim may make even more sense if you do not have a full coverage policy.
- You have had a recent claim: If you had a claim in the last three to five years, filing another one could drastically increase the rate of your premium. Additionally, it could also mark you as a high-risk driver.
- It was your fault: If you suffered bumper damage because of your own negligence and no other driver was involved, it may be best to pay for it out of pocket if the damage expenses are within your means. Filing a claim could signal a red flag to your insurer.
Keep in mind, though, that your insurance is designed to help protect your finances from high out-of-pocket costs. If you can’t afford to fix the damage you caused or sustained in an accident, insurance may be an option that can offer financial relief, even if it results in a higher premium later on.
Frequently asked questions
A fender bender is typically considered to be a minor car crash or collision with another vehicle or an object that causes bumper damage or other minor damage to your vehicle. In general, this may include an accident where you are rear-ended by another vehicle or bump another car while parking. Or, it could include other situations in which there is minor damage to your vehicle, such as discovering a dent in your car that was caused by another driver in a parking lot.
Yes, even a small fender could result in paying a higher cost for your insurance policy when it renews, but only if you file a claim for the damage. That said, there are some insurance companies that will offer leeway for the first or minor claims, but in general, for any claim you make, including a claim for a fender bender, you may want to expect a rate increase of at least a few percentage points.
Minor incidents that do not involve other drivers, do not cause injuries or major damage and do not result in a traffic violation can usually go without being reported. However, whenever another vehicle or significant damage are involved, it should likely be reported to the police and your insurance company to avoid legal hassles later.
The cost of bumper repair will typically depend on the extent of the damage and other factors, like the cost of car repairs in your area. In general, replacing a bumper is typically much more expensive than fixing a minor dent or scratch, and the cost could also depend on whether any other component behind the bumper was damaged in the fender bender.