Claims Information

To Claim, or not to Claim…

We`re very sorry that you have potentially suffered an incident that has brought you to this section of our site.  Fortunately, you`re one of the forward-planners who purchased insurance, so let`s discuss your next move.

You carry insurance to protect you from financial hardship due unforeseen incidents. But sometimes the accident or damage can seem rather minor, and that’s usually when we get questions such as…

  • Should I file this claim?
  • How will it impact my insurance policy, including how much I pay?
  • Will I lose my claims-free discount?
  • How much is my deductible, and will it come into play?

These are all legitimate factors that should come into play when deciding to file a claim or not.

Many people find that it’s not worth filing a claim that is only a certain amount above their deductible.  They find it best not to lose their claims-free discount, or use up their one “claims forgiveness” free-pass on a relatively minor claim. 

Should I file this Claim?

You`re definitely going to want to file a claim in certain scenarios.  These likely include:

  1. Larger losses: Many people decide against reporting smaller losses that result in a claim that is barely above their deductible and will only result if a few dollars in their pocket in the end.  Contrast that with a big auto accident, or a significant theft of property that could cause serious financial hardship if insurance wasn’t there to help recuperate from the loss.
  2. Where someone may be hurt: If there is even the slightest potential for injuries – either in the short or long term – you’re best to report the incident.  An example is an at-fault car accident where there were people either in your vehicle, or in the one hit.  Although the accident may appear very minor and everyone says they`re fine at the time, you don`t know if this will remain true in a few days, weeks, or months down the road.
  3. There is damage that you’re unsure how to take care of properly.  An example of this is a substantial amount of water leaking into your home.  Improperly handled water leaks can leave water underneath floors and behind walls and can lead to costly future damage like rot and mold.  Best to reach out to us for some advice on incidents that you have no experience with.

How will it impact my insurance policy, including how much I pay?

As an insurance broker, we work with a variety of insurance companies who each tend to handle claims slightly differently.  The impact on your policy can range from zero impact at all (eg. If your insurer has a “First Claim Forgiveness” feature), to causing a significant increase in premium on your next renewal.  That being said, the impact is usually somewhere in between these two extremes.  A filed claim will usually result in a small and temporary increase in premium in the range of 5-20% per year.  This holds true for a “first claim” or “first claim in years” scenarios.  Obviously, the impact will be greater where there are multiple claims over a short period of time.  A frequency of claims can also lead to your insurer refusing to renew your insurance policy.

Another factor to be aware of is how insurers view reported claims.  Company A might allow you to report a potential claim, they will investigate it, and give you the breakdown of damages and costs to give you the opportunity to decide if you want to take care of it yourself or put in a claim.  Company B might count it as a claim against your insurance record as soon as you report it!  A quick call to us will allow us to guide you in the right direction without

Will I lose my claims-free discount?

Going through with a claim will usually result is losing a claims-free discount, however this is not always the case. Many of the insurance companies we deal with offer a “first claim forgiveness” feature to those who qualify. This option allows you to submit a loss without affecting your policy.

How much is my deductible, and will it come into play?

A deductible is a feature that applies to almost all insurance policies.  In a nutshell, it’s the initial amount of any claim that you must first absorb yourself before your insurance kicks in to pay the rest of the claim.  It’s important to try to pick an amount that you feel comfortable with and won’t cause you a lot of financial hardship. 

Deductibles play an important role in keeping insurance premiums lower by eliminating a lot of smaller claims, including the costs that come with processing these minor incidents.  The higher you set your insurance deductible, the more the savings on your annual premium.

There are a couple of insurers that we do business with who have a “shrinking deductible” feature where you may not even have to pay a deductible if you haven’t claimed in a certain number of years!  There are also certain claims scenarios where deductibles generally don’t apply (e.g. theft of the entire vehicle, or windshield chip repairs).  Also, when you are involved in a not-at-fault auto accident for example, usually the at-fault person’s insurance company ends up covering your deductible.

Deductible are generally quite well indicated on your policy documents.  However, sometimes policies have different deductibles for different types of claims (e.g. $1,000 for Collision claims, but $500 for Fire and Theft incidents). 

Don’t hesitate to reach out if you want to discuss where you stand with your deductibles on your insurance policies.

Still not sure what to do?

Give us a call and we`ll figure it out together!  After all, that`s what we`re here for.  We’ll go over the options with you so that you can rest easy knowing that you made the right decision as it relates to your potential claim.