Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health insuran...

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Chris Harrigan has an economic degree from Limestone College and an MBA from Clemson University. He previously managed auto insurance claims for Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Currently, he is using his business and insurance expertise to provide insurance data analysis and visualizations to enhance the user experience.

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Reviewed by Chris Harrigan
Former Auto Insurance Claims Manager Chris Harrigan

UPDATED: Apr 13, 2022

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Key takeaways...

  • It’s important to compare the cost of repairs against the deductible
  • Your deductible will vary based on the types and levels of coverage you carry
  • Often, there’s no penalty for filing a claim with the insurance company

When you get involved in a car accident, there are going to be expenses to consider. You might want to file a claim and pay the deductible or you might want to pay out-of-pocket.

Much of this decision will depend upon the cost of the repair as well as the type of coverage that you have.

Compare car insurance quotes and see how much you could save on your premium! Just enter your zip code above to get started.

Filing a Claim


You should always file a claim when there is a car accident. This claim will alert the insurance company that there has been an incident. They will then have you go to a body shop where you will get an estimate.

Depending upon the insurance company, you might also meet with an adjuster.

If you have sufficient coverage, the insurance company will tell you what your deductible is (usually either $500 or $1000). If you don’t have the right kind of coverage, the insurance company will deny your claim.

When you file a claim, you aren’t necessarily going to get your car fixed. Filing a claim with the insurance company simply lets them know that an accident has taken place.

Especially if the accident involves another vehicle, it is your responsibility to report it. Otherwise, the other party could report it and if you wait too long, it can have a negative impact on you.

Once you get a quote for repair, you can then choose to schedule a repair with the body shop. This repair can be done immediately or you can wait based on whether you have the money to pay the deductible.

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Paying a Deductible Versus Paying Out-of-Pocket

You always have the option to pay the deductible or pay for damages out-of-pocket.

It’s sensible to look at the cost of the repair in comparison to the cost of the deductible. If the cost of the repair is more than the deductible, then it makes sense to pay the deductible. The insurance company will then take care of the rest, up to the limits you have on your policy.

If the repairs are less than the deductible, the better option is to pay out-of-pocket.

Damages that are often less than the deductible on a policy include:

  • Window replacement
  • Side view mirror replacement
  • Paintless dent repairs
  • Bumper repairs

Much of your decision is going to depend upon how much your deductible is.

The deductible is something that you determine when you get a policy from an insurance company.

You are able to control the cost of your premiums by raising or lowering your deductible. Higher deductibles result in lower premiums because you make the commitment to spend more out-of-pocket on the repairs when they are needed.

Will my premiums increase if I file a claim?


Many people make the assumption that if they file a claim with their insurance company, their premium will go up. This potential for higher premiums is why many choose to make the decision to pay for the car repairs out of their own pocket.

You always have the choice to pay for the repairs on your own. However, insurance companies don’t automatically increase the cost of your premiums because of filing a claim.

The decision to increase premiums are based on many factors, including:

  • Whether there is an “accident forgiveness” feature in place
  • The cost of the repair
  • Whose fault the accident was
  • How many accidents have recently occurred

You can get quotes from other insurance companies. This way, if your insurance does go up, you can see if getting insurance from another company is more affordable. Just enter your zip code right here and compare today!

Additionally, you can choose to adjust your deductible so that there is less to pay out-of-pocket if you are involved in another accident.

Paying for a car accident out-of-pocket is always an option available to you. You have insurance and therefore it’s often best to go through the insurance company.

However, based on the cost of your deductible and the cost of repairs, sometimes it is more cost effective to pay for it on your own. Take the time to analyze the costs before you make a decision.