My 16 year old son backed our van into his grandmother's car last night, causing minor damage to one door on her car, though nothing noticeable on our van. I estimate that it will cost a few hundred dollars to fix, likely placing it below our deductible, though I have heard that property damage claims like this may be exempt from deductibles. I would like to discuss this with my insurance agent to decide the most economical way to proceed. However, I am concerned that this discussion may cause them to raise my rates, even if no claim is filed. Can they do this? Would I have any recourse if they did, besides just changing companies?
The estimate we got from the body shop was a lot more than we expected, so we just went ahead and filed a claim. Since "what happens if we don't file a claim" was no longer an option, I talked with my agent about these questions, so here's what I found.
- Because this was only damage to one car, not ours, it was a liability property damage claim, and therefore no deductible for us.
- I was under no obligation to them to report the claim, though I am responsible for the accident (financially either they or I have to handle it).
- Had I called to discuss possibilities, they would not have adjusted our rates as a result.
- If I start a claim and close it at any time before a payment is made, it will not change our rates.
- There will likely be an increase in my rates, but if and how much will depend on what the repairs cost.
Nota Bene: This is for one insurance carrier, and may even vary from policy to policy, but I think it is likely to be similar with most US insurance companies.