Every year, traffic incidents in the United States severely injure 4.4 million people. Such injuries are severe enough that they require medical assistance and, often, hospitalization. That’s on top of the billions of dollars in property damage and losses that crashes result in.

If not for auto insurance, those involved in crashes would have to shoulder all those costs.

However, that doesn’t mean all car accident claims are successful. For starters, insurers can deny them. Thus, you must first learn how they work and when to file one to avoid unpleasant surprises.

Below, we’ll share some of the most crucial facts about auto accident claims, so read on.

1. Deadlines for Filing Car Accident Claims

Car insurance providers often specify a time window for filing an accident claim. For example, some may require you to start the process within 24 hours from the time of the incident. Others may give you anywhere from 30 to 60 days.

If you miss that deadline, the insurer may no longer pay you for your covered losses. So, ensure that you check your policy and that of the other driver (if it’s a multi-vehicle accident).

2. Your State’s Fault Laws

Before filing an auto accident claim, read about car insurance laws in your state first. That’s because where you live determines which insurer you must file a claim with.

Suppose you live in a state with pure comparative laws, such as Arizona. You can file a claim with the other driver’s insurer if you’re not 100% responsible for the incident. You can also file one with your insurer if you sustain bodily injuries.

However, if you live in a state with no-fault insurance laws, you must file a claim with your insurer. You must do this regardless of who caused the accident. Your insurance company will be the one to cover your losses.

3. You Don’t Always Have to File

You may not have to file a car accident claim if the minor incident only involves you and your car. An example is if you didn’t injure yourself and the damage to your vehicle is almost negligible. For instance, you only backed into your mailbox, leaving just a tiny dent on your bumper.

In the scenario above, it’s okay not to file a claim since you may only have to pay $50 to fix a small dent. That may be a better option compared to the lengthy claims filing process.

4. Car Accident Claims Often Increase Premiums

Your premiums can skyrocket depending on the type of car accident claim you file. For instance, an at-fault claim can increase auto insurance premiums by an average of $750.

Also, the more claims you file, regardless of fault, the higher your premiums can get. Your insurer may even decide not to renew your coverage after numerous claims.

5. You Can Fight a Denied Claim

If an insurer denies a claim you believe is valid, talk to a car accident attorney. They can review your case and determine if the insurance company has legal grounds to deny the claim. If there’s none, the lawyer can help with the formal appeals process for fighting the denial.

Think Twice Before Filing

As you’ve learned in this guide, you don’t always have to file car accident claims, such as for minor incidents. As long as it only involves you and the damage costs little to fix, it’s okay not to make a claim. However, you must file one if a crash injures anyone or if it causes severe property damage.

To read more informative guides like this, check out our latest articles!