In a Fender-Bender? Think Twice Before Filing an Insurance Claim

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
/ Source:

Think twice before filing an insurance claim over that fender-bender or other minor damage. It could cost you big time.

One $2,000 property damage claim is enough to hike your auto insurance rate at renewal by an average 41 percent, according to new data from A typical consumer would pay $1,250.50 per year, they say, instead of $814.99. "That's pretty hefty," said Laura Adams, senior analyst at the site. Bodily injury claims tend to be even more expensive, raising rates by an average 45 percent. There's also some variation depending on the state you live in, based on varying insurance regulations.

Price jumps stem from insurers' perception of you as an increased risk. "Statistically, if you file a claim, you're more likely to file a second or third claim," said Adams. If one claim is expensive, a second is exorbitant, spiking rates by an average 93 percent. Increased rates typically stay in effect for two to three years, she said, provided you don't have any more accidents. Not all claims trigger big price hikes. Comprehensive claims—which include damage to your car from vandalism, animals and natural disasters—generate a small increase of 2 percent on average. Often, that's because such incidents are out of the driver's control, said Adams. "If a tree falls on your car, yes, that's what your insurance is for," she said. "Those kinds of claims move the needle very, very little."

The lesson for drivers: Use insurance as intended, to cover significant losses only.

-- Kelli B. Grant, CNBC