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08 Jul 2020
Georgina Kent Georgina Kent

Car insurance: Is claiming always a good idea?

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A close up of the front of a white car with some damage to the wheel arch

You’re pulling out from the supermarket car park when you realise you’ve knocked into the car next to you. There’s no damage to their car, and just a scrape to yours. The question is, should you tell your insurer?

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Just big bumps or all bumps?

In short, ALL bumps or incidents should be reported to your insurer. Every little bump and scrape you have builds up your driving profile.

That profile is your *risk*. The higher risk you are, the more expensive your premium could be. Our advice is always to tell your insurer. You don’t have to claim, but they need to know about all bumps you have in your car.

READ MORE: When should you report a car accident?

But the insurance company would never know?

In some cases, maybe you’re right. But your insurer asks you to be open and honest, and that's the contract you enter into when you buy car insurance.

Let’s say you have a bump, a small one, and don’t tell your insurer. Then 6 months later, you have a bigger bump and need to claim. When the assessment is done on your car, they could find damage from other bumps you may have had.

If they do, and they feel that you haven’t told them about the accidents, it could invalidate your car insurance. That'd leave you with no cover to repair your car.

Or, they could go back and add the other bump onto your policy. Then ask you to pay the premium you would have had if you’d told them about the bump when you purchased the policy, or renewed it with them.

Either way, it’s a risky move. And with things like this, honesty is the best policy.

There are other ways the insurer could find out

If you have an accident and don’t tell your insurer, there’s a chance the other party might let their own insurer know. In that case, their insurance company will let yours know too. It’s much better you’re the one who tells them.

Insurers may well think that customers who don’t tell them about incidents are a higher risk. That could then affect your premium more than if you’d told them the day the incident happened.
Is it worth claiming on car insurance for a dent?

Only you can decide that. It’s definitely worth weighing up the pros and cons. Check what your excess is, both voluntary and compulsory, to see if it’s more than the cost of repairing the dent.

You should also keep in mind that any claim you make is likely to affect your premium when you come to your next renewal too.

And any automatic renewal quotes you get at your next renewal probably won’t have the claim included. You’ll need to make sure you add that in to keep quotes accurate.

Check your policy details

Insurers usually set out a timeframe for when you're supposed to notify them of any accidents. It could be 24, 48 or 72 hours as an example.

You should check the terms and conditions in your policy documents to find the timeframe.

If you’re not making a claim, be clear when you call them to tell them that this is for information only and you’re not making a claim.

How do I let my insurer know?

If you just want to let them know about the bump:

  • At renewal. If the bump happened when your policy is renewing, call the renewals number in your documents and tell them about it.

  • Mid-policy. If you are mid-policy, call the claims team and tell them you've had a bump. But tell them that it's for information only as you're not claiming.

If you want to claim:

  • At renewal. Call the claims number to tell them about the accident. You'll need to give the renewals department a call too so you can get a new renewal price with the accident.

  • Mid-policy. Call the claims team. They’ll make a note of it on the system so it’s up-to-date and accurate.

READ MORE: How to claim on your car insurance

Will the accident affect my premium even though I’m not claiming?

It might do, yes. Your insurer won’t be trying to re-coup the amount they’ve paid out to fix your car, because you haven’t claimed. But they’ll be looking at their risk.

Fault or non-fault, you’ve had an accident, that puts you in a higher risk category. The insurer will be trying to off-set their risk with your premium.

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