Most of us purchase auto insurance with an all-too-singular focus: to cover the catastrophic costs to ourselves, friends and family. But many common auto insurance claims involve vehicle mishaps that occur with or without our presence in the driver’s seat.
Remember that even small claims can increase your auto insurance cost. As a general rule, if the cost of the damage is less than the rate increase you would face after filing an auto insurance claim, your agent may advise against using your coverage.
“That is why you want to talk to a trusted agent before filing those claims because that’s who can best advise you,” explains Mike Tiffany, owner of an agency in Kansas City, Mo. “Whether or not you’re dealing with the after-effects of what a claim could do to rates (if it does anything at all), it is going to have to come from that person.”
How to Handle 8 Common Auto Insurance Claims
- Rear-end collisions
- Break-ins and theft
- Backup accidents
- Animal collisions
- Single-vehicle crashes
- Hail damage
- Intersection crashes
Here’s detail about each of the eight most common auto insurance claims and tips for handling them.
1. Rear-end collisions
Sadly, onboard communications technology continues to be a deadly diversion when it comes to auto accidents in general and rear-end collisions in particular. According to Centers for Disease Control statistics, nine people are killed and more than 1,000 are injured every day in accidents involving distracted driving.
While rear-end crashes are among the most common outcomes of distracted driving, tailgating (following too closely) causes its share of mayhem. What to do? Slow down, pay attention, don’t text and drive, and leave plenty of room between your vehicle and the one in front of you.
2. Break-ins and theft
While stolen parts may or may not warrant an auto insurance claim (your personal belongings are covered only by homeowners or renters insurance), you can minimize your risk by parking in well-lit surroundings. Also be sure to lock all doors and remove valuable items from seats and floorboards.
Some insurers offer premium discounts if you install anti-theft devices; not a bad move, as the theft of your vehicle will seriously impact your insurance rate.
3. Backup accidents
Although they rarely happen at speed, the backup accident remains a vexing problem, with 500,000 reported each year, resulting in 15,000 injuries and 210 deaths, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports. The reason? We like midsize trucks, minivans and sport utility vehicles that unfortunately obscure our view to the rear.
Fortunately, those numbers are expected to change for the better soon, thanks to a 2018 NHTSA requirement that all new vehicles come equipped with a backup camera. Until then, take extra care when backing up. Also, train your children and pets to keep a watch out for you.
4. Animal collisions
Collisions with wildlife can cause a wide range of damage to your vehicle. However, it’s best to consider the repair cost before you file a claim. In some cases, paying for damage from an animal collision may be worth paying for out-of-pocket, instead of suffering a rate hike.
5. Single-vehicle crashes
A singular functional failure–such as driving drunk, stoned, or asleep at the wheel–accounts for one in five auto crashes. They cause a staggering 8,000 fatalities each year as single vehicles drive off the road, never to return.
The run-off-road (ROR) statistics tend to plague the youngest (15-24) and oldest drivers (65+) most, accounting for three in four ROR accidents. As self-driving car technology advances, it may lower the incidence of driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, and lack of sleep.
6. Hail damage
Depending on where you live, Mother Nature may cause common auto insurance claims. You might be victim to hail storms that result in shattered windshields, dented hoods, and interior water damage.
But don’t let nature’s hood-whacking turn into a wallet-bashing. Always check with your agent first before filing a claim.
Covered common auto insurance claims that have nothing to do with driving are vandalism. You emerge from the mall or work and notice that someone keyed or painted your vehicle.
Fortunately, it often costs less to have the damage repaired out of pocket, depending on your comprehensive deductible. That can save the headache of filing a claim.
8. Intersection crashes
In all likelihood, you know how to navigate a busy intersection. It’s best to stop at the yellow light or stop sign, yield right of way to those who arrived first and then proceed with caution. Trouble is, not everyone follows the rules.
To protect yourself, never rush a yellow light and always signal when turning. Also, pause a few seconds when you receive a green light to avoid getting hit by the red-rush crowd.