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UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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Car insurance is a valuable asset to have in the event of a car accident but when do policyholders actually file a claim? While many drivers only file a claim to have their vehicle fixed there are many other types of claims ranging from neck injury to loss of wages that can be filed under a car insurance policy.
Having car insurance is great and anytime damages fall under your car insurance coverage its certainly worth considering filing an insurance claim however its important to always consider what effect a car insurance claim will have on your future car insurance rates and evaluate whether or not the damages exceed your deductible. Sometimes the damage is so minor you may want to simply pay the expenses out of pocket while other times the risk of potential liability is so great you prefer to have a claim on file. However you choose to deal with insured damages is a personal choice but careful consideration should go into whether or not you want a claim on record. Auto insurance companies are “for profit” companies and anytime a claim is filed the risk of higher car insurance rates is increased.
What are the most common car insurance claims?
#1 Minor Accidents
Minor car accidents make up the bulk of car insurance claims and often involve no personal injuries but just vehicle damage. No matter how small your claim is however car insurance companies will often increase your rates.
#2 Neck Injury
Many car accident attorneys have purchased nice homes from the settlements won from neck injury. The most common street term is “whiplash” and it’s not uncommon to be served after a car accident due to someone’s neck being hurt.
#3 Back Injuries
After neck injuries the most common claim submitted after a car accident are back injuries. Since your back and neck often are the recipient of the most force during a car accident it’s very common to have back injuries from a car accident… and with a good attorney it’s quite possible your back hurts a lot more than you think it does.
#4 Damaged Windshield
Windshields are always susceptible to damage and even the smallest crack can pose a significant risk in the event of an accident. Many car insurance companies recognize the threat of additional risk exposure to people inside a vehicle with a cracked windshield and rarely penalize you for submitting a claim to get a windshield fixed. However the windshield deductible is quite high so regardless of the greater risk associated with a cracked windshield you will probably have to pay for most of the cost of a new one anyway.
#5 Car Theft
Even with car insurance companies providing discounts for anti-theft systems and manufacturers introducing more sophisticated anti-theft devices vehicles still get stolen and broken into. Most personal contents are not covered but claims are still filed every day for vehicles lost due to car theft. Good news is that car insurance companies will often penalize you with higher rates in the future since you filed the claim… while the thieve cruises down Hollywood Boulevard in your new convertible.
Vandalism is alive and well and some people with spray paint view your car as a fresh canvas their new masterpiece. From having your car keyed to having a nice four letter word spray painted on the side of your car (in not-so-nice matching colors) car vandalism claims make up a nice percentage of car insurance claims. The great thing about vandalism however is car insurance companies treat all residents of the zip code equally and the higher the vandalism claims the higher the risk of that particular zip code. Who said life isn’t fair… now if the vandals would only ever buy car insurance?
#7 Animal Collisions
In some areas there are people killed every day by collision with animals. While Moose and Deer are beautiful creatures they also have yet to learn how to collide with a car and not case serious damage. Partly we are to blame for not enrolling Bambi or Bullwinkle in a defensive driving school but regardless of their flaws animal collisions are serious and often result in serious injuries including death.
#8 Rental Car Reimbursement
When your car needs to be fixed you can’t be expected to hike to work. Rental car reimbursement claims are often made by policyholders who need to leave their car for some TLC at the body shop. What’s really cool about rental car reimbursement coverage is you rarely have to show receipts to get it as most auto insurance policies provide a fixed daily rate which is automatically issued…. the even cooler thing is car insurance companies rarely pay enough for you to rent a car .. Well, maybe a moped.
#9 Loss of Wages
Yes, people still claim loss of wages under car insurance and while its completely normal to make a claim for wages lost always make sure to read the fine print. If you happen to be involved in a minor accident and are the type of person who packs up and leave at 5 o’clock and religiously takes an hour for lunch (even while sitting at your desk) odds are you are not going to get reimbursed for that $12.15 you lost for driving to the vehicle repair shop.
# 10 Emotional Pain
While its true some attorneys will claim a policyholder “is awoken by giant sharks eating her legs after a vehicle was hit by a shopping cart in the mall parking lot” many emotional injury claims are very real and some of the most expensive settlements by car insurance companies are to people injured in serious car accidents. While the frequency of the claims are much less than vehicle damage the substantial amounts involved are extraordinary. This is also where a lot of insurance fraud cases start so don’t just call your lawyer and expect to get a windfall overnight. Insurance fraud is serious and the only thing you could be thinking about one day is how to get out of the orange jumpsuit and go home.
Car insurance is a very important asset to have but you also need to make sure you have the right type of insurance so always start with understanding the basics of auto insurance and choose a policy that provides all the coverage you need.