"I just tapped the other person, so I am not going to file a claim and just pay the damages myself."
By working in a NH insurance agency, this is a statement that we hear quite often. Though the decision is ultimately up to you, the policyholder, the seasoned professionals at Holt Proctor McBriarty Insurance Agency in Milford NH strongly encourage you to file a claim with your insurance company for any accident in which you are involved. The top 5 reasons we believe all car accidents should be filed with the insurance company are as follows:
1. If you begin settling your own claim, you will not be able to hand-off the claim to the insurance company if it gets too expensive for you to handle. By paying another party, you are admitting fault and hence jeopardizing any defense the insurance company may be able to provide for you. If repairs have begun on any vehicle, the insurance company has also lost their right to inspect and assess all the damage. As this has further impeded their right to investigate a claim, the insurance company has the right to deny coverage, regardless of how big the claim gets.
2. Injuries are not always immediately apparent. What if you tap someone and they claim to be OK at the scene, but then suddenly have a series of headaches that they feel are related to the accident. Even if unjustified, there may still be necessary testing and doctor visits to prove as much, which can be very expensive. If you admitted fault and paid for a bumper out of your pocket, what are you going to do now about a head injury?
3. The initial estimate of damages to a car may not be the final estimate. After a car accident, it is typical that each car involved is either driven or towed to a body shop. From there the body shop will have someone write up an estimate that may simply consist of a walk around the car, noting damage. Most of these estimates are free, so there is not a lot of time put into them. Once the car is in for the actual repair, it is typically put on a lift or taken apart that can uncover all sorts of unseen damage, which will significantly increase the cost of repair.
4. Unexpected expenses can be costly. If a car is being repaired, it is not being driven and a replacement car would be entitled to the driver you hit. This expense would normally be covered under the liability of your auto policy, but if you are paying it yourself, you would be responsible. To get an idea of this cost, I went to the Enterprise Rent-A-Car web site and got a quote. The cost to rent an economy car for just one day was $35.58 plus taxes and fees, and that is assuming that the shop can fix the car in a day. What if the car is brought in on a Friday and can't be repaired until Monday? You are suddenly looking at a four day rental bill when you thought you would only be paying for one.
5. Just because you didn't file the claim, doesn't mean the accident didn't happen. Insurance companies use many reports to calculate rates. One is a report that compiles data from other insurance companies and police reports. If it is noted somewhere that you were in an accident you will most likely still see an increase in your premium even if you paid all the damages out of your own pocket. Can you imagine anything worse than taking a huge risk by paying thousands of dollars to avoid an increase in your insurance premium, only to still have your insurance premium increase?
Nobody wants to see their premium increase, but given the financial risks involved with not filing a claim, the risk managers at Holt Proctor McBriarty Insurance Agency strongly advise that you file that claim. That is why you buy insurance in the first place!