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Filing An Auto Insurance Claim: Points You Need To Know

November 12, 2010

Automobile insurance is an item we purchase because we are required by law to have it, but we all hope we’ll never have to use it. You may even have opted for higher deductibles to lower your insurance rates. But in the unfortunate case you suffer a loss due to an auto collision, theft or other incident and need to make a claim, is it worth it? Will your rates increase? Here are a few points to consider when filing a claim.

How will making a claim impact your policy?

If you are at fault or partially at fault in a collision, or if you lend your car to others and they cause an accident, your premium may be affected. If you have bought optional coverage for collision or upset, or all perils, and if you are fully at fault for the damage to your vehicle, a standard deductible applies. In Ontario, the standard deductible is typically $500, unless you have opted to pay a higher amount, which will be outlined in your policy.

Should you be in a collision and are 100% not at fault, your insurance rate should not be affected. In this case, you do not have to pay a deductible unless you have chosen to lower your premium by adding a deductible to your policy.  

If you make a claim for theft, vandalism, fire, or broken glass and you are not at fault, your policy should not be affected. However, if you have a lot of these types of claims, your insurance company may choose to increase your deductible or discontinue this type of coverage on your policy.
In the case that your vehicle is broken into, damage or loss to your vehicle including theft of any equipment that is part of the actual vehicle such as a built-in CD player should be covered under your automobile policy if you have All Perils, Comprehensive, or Specified Coverage.

Should your personal belongings be stolen while in the vehicle, items such as a laptop computer or other electronics, a bike, skis, fishing equipment, golf clubs or suitcases, these items are not covered under your automobile insurance policy. Claims for such items would be made on your Home, Condo  or Tenant’s Insurance policy. Under such a policy, personal property is generally insured while this property is away from your premises anywhere in the world, but there are usually limits, so be sure to review your policy or check with your insurance professional.

Report any loss to your insurance company

When you have suffered a loss to your vehicle, whether due to a collision or theft, be sure to report it to your insurance company as soon as possible. They will explain the coverage under your policy and start handling your claim.

If you are injured, you may be entitled to benefits. Your insurer can provide you with the necessary claim forms and help you complete them.

To repair a damaged vehicle, your insurer may recommend you take your car to one of their preferred shops to have the work done. In this case, it is up to your insurer to confirm the work is done to your satisfaction. You can also opt to have the work done by your own shop; however, the insurer will only pay the amount quoted by their recommended shop.

If the vehicle is beyond repair, the insurer may choose to “write it off”. This means that a settlement will be made based on the cash value of the vehicle at the time of the accident.

Remember, in case of an accident, your insurance professional is there to help you, so contact them if you have questions about your policy. For more information on auto insurance or to compare quotes, visit InsuranceHotline.com.

Not sure if you should report an accident to your insurance company? See the article “When to Report Your Accident” on InsuranceHotline.com.