To claim, or not to claim? That is the question.

You got into a fender bender or backed up into a pole. There’s mold in your basement, or the bathroom overflowed. No matter what your policy limits are – even if you’ve got plenty of coverage – you’re unsure if you should make a claim, or just repair the damage yourself. Consider the following before making your decision:

  1. Know claims facts. On average, car owners file a claim every 17.9 years.1 Auto insurance underwriters will consider anyone with more than one incident in a three-year period as having “multiple claims,” which could affect your premium, or could send you looking for a new carrier. A typical homeowner will make a single personal insurance claim every 10 years, and underwriters are not as likely to take a risk on a policyholder with more. To track and assess your risk quickly, carriers maintain risk databases with every personal insurance claim you’ve ever filed on hand to evaluate your insurability.
  2. It’s just you. If the mishap involved only you and your car, or involves only a minor home repair, get a repair estimate first. If the fix cost is less than your deductible, then take care of it yourself. If it’s more, consider whether the insurance payout now is worth the risk of a potential rate increase later. Auto and home insurance rates will go up when multiple claims exist and typically last about three to five years before they gradually decrease again - assuming you don’t have any more claims during that time.
  3. It’s more than just you. If your damage exceeds a couple of thousand dollars, you are clearly at fault or the mishap includes multiple vehicles, homes, etc., you’ll want to make a formal claim. In addition to the financial expense of the repairs, overseeing all the details and estimates of multiple claims can be extremely time consuming. Your broker or carrier have claims experts who specialize in coordinating multiple claims.
  4. Consider what you don’t know. Whether it’s just you or multiple drivers or homeowners involved in the mishap, the damage could be more serious than it appears at first. Similarly, injuries can sometimes surface only after an incident. Without your insurer involved, such liability could be financially crippling. If you are going to make a claim, your broker or carrier likely has deadlines for notification. Don’t delay.

What to do if you don’t claim

If you decide you don’t want to make an official personal insurance claim, there are still a few things you need to do just in case the situation escalates later. First, make sure to take photos of the damage done to both cars, and the area of the house that’s in question, before beginning repairs. In the case of a car accident, call the police to the scene or, go to the local station to file a report. Both will provide important documentation should the issue swell.

At renewal time

Whether you file the claim or not, use your annual renewal to freshen up on your policy requirements and coverage limits, understand your deductibles and determine if you should make a personal insurance claim or fund the repairs yourself.

Want to explore additional insurance options? HUB’s online Personal Insurance Marketplace provides a convenient, one-stop shop where you can get real-time quotes for all of your insurance needs