You Just Got in a Wreck

Do You File a Claim, or Pay out-of-Pocket?

You know in your heart that you’re as careful as a driver can be. In spite of this, you know that even the most careful drivers can sometimes get into an accident because you’re never alone on the road and you can’t control what’s happening around you.

Accidents happen. It’s a simple reality. The question is: if you’re involved in one, how do you decide whether you should file an insurance claim or pay for repair expenses out of your own pocket?

If you’re the only one involved in the accident, for instance, you miscalculated the distance and backed straight into a tree, it’s generally simpler to just pay for the cost of repair yourself, especially if it only resulted in minor damage. But when another vehicle is involved, more often than not, the better choice is to file an insurance claim so legality issues that arise can be dealt with accordingly.

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On the other hand, generalizing doesn’t always work since there are still some cases when handling the repair expense on your own might be more beneficial.

To help with this decision, ask yourself the following questions, then make up your mind from there.

How much is the expected repair cost?

This is the most basic question you need answered, and for many, it might be the only deciding factor. It’s a simple matter of comparing which will cost you more: the amount you need to pay to cover the repair, or the amount of your insurance deductible.

Of course, this will require some research on your end. Don’t base your decision on just one estimate. Make sure to get estimates from at least 3 – 5 repair shops so you’ll have a better idea of how much repair expenses you may be looking at.  Keep in mind that lower cost may mean you get shoddier work done.

If the cost of repairs is lower than your insurance deductible or almost equivalent to it, you’ll be better off paying for the repairs yourself.


How will the accident affect your insurance premiums?

As we already mentioned, if there’s only a small difference between the repair cost and your insurance deductible, you’ll be better off paying from our own pocket. And it’s not because of the short-term benefit. It’s more for the long-term benefit. Keep in mind that when you file a claim, it will likely result in higher premiums afterwards. So if you keep the accident to yourself, your premiums will not get affected. You’ll pay for the accident just this once, but you won’t have to deal with having to pay higher premiums for the next 3 – 5 years.


How will the accident affect your driving record?

It’s a common misconception that if you do not file an insurance claim and pay for accident damage from your own pocket, the accident won’t be reflected on your driving record. While this may be true in most states, there are also some states where you are required to report an accident, regardless of who pays for the damage. The biggest determining factor, however, is whether or not you damaged someone else’s property.

If the accident happened in such a state (for example, Minnesota), there’s no sense in opting to shell out your own money to keep your driving record clean, because no matter who pays for the damage, the accident will show up in your record.


How much will the actual repair cost be?

Remember how important it is to get several estimates for the cost of repair? Although you might have done this diligently, the fact is, what you got from the repair shops you visited are just estimates. This means there’s always a possibility that the actual cost will be higher, because it is only when the repair work is being done that the full extent of the damage can be seen. And estimates rarely turn out to be lower than the actual cost.

If you’re on a tight budget and you can’t afford surprises, especially those that amount to more than just a few dollars, you might be better off filing an insurance claim. That way, at least there won’t be any surprises. Especially if you haven’t filed a claim before or if it’s been a long time since your last, this recent one might not even result in higher premiums. Meaning, regardless of how much the cost of repair eventually amounts to, your deductible will remain the same. And it’s always easier to prepare for something fixed rather than something unexpected.

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Big Sky Collision Center Fixes Cars

Here at Big Sky Collision Center, we pride ourselves in doing quality work the right way.  That means you won’t be left with a vehicle that looks fixed, but is unsafe.  You will have your vehicle repaired to factory safety standards, every time.

Give us a call at 406-259-6328 to schedule a time to bring your vehicle in.

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