Chelsey Tucker graduated with a Bachelor of History degree from Metropolitan State University in 2019. She now writes about insurance with her specialty being life insurance and has been quoted on Help Smart Phone and MEL Magazine.

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com.

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Mar 19, 2020

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The lowdown...

  • If you have a loss and you want to receive compensation from your carrier, you’ll need to file a claim
  • Make sure you check to see if the loss is covered under the policy before you report that you’ve had a loss
  • If it’s a single-car accident or you’re at-fault in a multi-car collision, the claim can affect your policy standing
  • At-fault claims can’t negatively affect your policy until after the claim closes and your policy has renewed
  • If you’re moved to a new risk class and the insurer wants to sever ties with you, your policy can be dropped

One of the last things that you want to do when you buy insurance is to use it. Because when you use your insurance it means that you’ve experienced a loss.

In a perfect world, you’d buy insurance at a low, low cost that never goes up and you’d never have any reason to use it. Unfortunately, the world doesn’t always operate in such perfect ways.

Accidents aren’t predictable but they are common. In fact, the figures suggest that people have about three accidents in their lifetime while they’re licensed to drive.

Since the average driver has an accident once every 17 years or so, you can expect to have to deal with at least three claims.

Compare car insurance quotes today and get started finding the best policy for your situation.

Claims can be stressful, but what happens after the claim has been settled can stress you out even more. Here are some of the repercussions you should know about:

Who should you call after you have a loss?

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If you’re in a multi-car accident or a single-car accident where you’ve damaged someone’s property, you should call your agent and notify them of the incident as soon as you can.

According to your contract, it’s the policyholder’s responsibility and their duty to notify the insurer when a loss occurs, even if they’re not going to collect.

You will need to notify the insurer of losses no matter who’s driving your car. You can’t wait for weeks or months to make the call either. If you look at the duties in your booklet, it’s vague when defining a time limit for calling the carrier.

It generally will say to call within a reasonable amount of time. While this is a broad requirement, when you’re not injured you should make the call within a few days.

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What does it mean when you file a claim against your own insurance?

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If you want help paying your bills and you have the coverage that you need, you can file a claim against your own insurance policy. This is called filing a first-party claim.

If you have just a basic policy with only liability coverage, you have no option to file a first-party claim, but if you have some of the following options you can:

  • Comprehensive – file a claim for your damages when your car is damaged by fire, theft, vandalism, or other non-collision types of losses
  • Collision – file a claim for your damages when your car is damaged after a single or multi-car accident
  • Uninsured Motorist Protection – file a claim for your medical bills when someone collides with your vehicle who doesn’t have insurance
  • Medical Payments Coverage – file a claim for your immediate medical bills when you’re in any type of auto-related loss as a pedestrian, driver, or bicyclist
  • Rental Car – file a claim when your car is damaged in a not-at-fault or uninsured motorist loss and you need a rental car
  • Towing – file a claim when your car is disabled and you need towing services

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Can filing a third-party claim affect you?

If you call someone else’s insurance company to file a claim it’s called a third-party claim. No matter how certain you are that the other driver is at-fault, always call your carrier too.

If the other company does take liability and pay out your loss, the claim won’t have an affect on your insurance.

An accident surcharge is a charge added to your policy when you have an at-fault accident. It can raise your rates for three years and also change your risk class.

If you’re already a high-risk, the increase after an at-fault accident can be extremely high.

Will filing a first-party claim affect your insurance rates?

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The likelihood of a first-party claim affecting your rates is high. Just because it’s probable doesn’t mean your rates will go up every time.

There are a few scenarios where you can collect against your own policy even when you’re not at fault for the loss. Here are a few scenarios where your carrier will pay you when you’re not at fault:

  • You’re in a not-at-fault loss and the other carrier is stalling so your insurer pays for damages by using your collision coverage
  • Your car is stolen or catches fire and you must carry a comprehensive loss
  • You file a claim against your Uninsured Motorist Coverage after someone hits you who doesn’t have coverage
  • You file a claim against your collision coverage to pay for damages after getting in a non-fault loss with an uninsured driver who can’t be identified
  • You file a Medical Payments claim to cover your ER bill after a non-fault accident

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When will the surcharge be added?

If your claim is classified as chargeable, it won’t affect your rates right away. Instead, there will be a delay until the claim has closed and your next renewal is run. The renewal occurs when the current policy expires.

The rates are calculated about 30 to 45 days before the bill will come due so that you have time to review it closely.

If you have too many claims or you have tickets and accidents, the insurer does have the option to drop you.

Dropping you means the company will non-renew your policy. The carrier is required to tell you why you’re being dropping in a written notice. At that time, you need to find coverage elsewhere before the coverage ends.

To get affordable insurance, use online Internet comparison tools and find the best rate. Try our free rate tool today.