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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Here's what you need to know...

  • If you experience any type of loss and you want to use the coverage that you have on your insurance policy, you need to contact your insurer and file a claim
  • When you file a claim, the case will be assigned to a claims adjuster who will investigate the circumstances leading up to the loss and estimate damages to determine how much the insurer needs to pay
  • Whether or not a claim will affect your premiums depends on the type of claim you’re filing, the amount of damage, and the final allocation of fault
  • If you’re involved in a collision, your premiums may go up if you’re found to be 51 percent or more at fault for the events that led up to the loss
  • In most states, the damages must exceed a certain amount before an at-fault accident can be labeled as chargeable under your personal auto policy. The damage threshold is very low and easy to exceed even in a minor accident

You carry auto insurance to help you pay for the expenses that can add up after you have a loss. When you’re building your auto insurance policy, it’s important to customize your policy so that you have an extra thick layer of protection safeguarding you.

By doing your homework on coverage options, you can effectively build a policy that you can lean on.

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Equipping yourself with the knowledge to build your policy is important, but it’s also important to understand what can happen to your policy after you file a claim.

You avoid losses at all costs, but when the time comes to make a claim for coverage benefits under your policy, you need to know what actions the insurer might take. Here’s what you should know:

What happens immediately after you file a claim?


The first thing that you should do after you have any accident is to get out of clear and present danger. If you’re injured, you should seek medical attention.

If your car is mangled in the middle of the road, you should exit the car safely and contact the police to get a tow truck to the scene.

After you’ve mitigated the loss or you’ve been seen by a doctor, it’s your duty as a policyholder to contact your insurance company to notify the claims department that you’ve had a loss.

When you call your carrier, the representative will ask questions so that the claim can be assigned to an adjuster. Some of these questions include:

  • Where did the loss occur?
  • What time did the loss occur?
  • What were the weather conditions at the time of the loss?
  • Who was driving, or was the vehicle parked?
  • What was the year, make, and model of the vehicle?
  • Did you get the license plate number or insurance information?
  • Where were the vehicles involved damaged?
  • Who was driving the other vehicle?
  • Were there witnesses?
  • Were you or any of your passengers injured?
  • Where is your vehicle located?

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What does the adjuster do?

Once all of the initial questions are answered, the file will be assigned to an adjuster who will start investigations. The very first thing that an insurance adjuster does is take a recorded statement of what happened.

They will then verify the damage and check to see if you carry coverage under your policy that will cover the damage.

After the adjuster verifies your coverage, they will know how to proceed with the claim.

Part of the process is interviewing the other party involved, speaking with the other adjuster, and allocating fault. Once the company agrees on the fault determination, the adjusters will decide which policy will pay and which limits apply.

The adjuster may also send an estimator to assess the damage and estimate how much it would cost to repair.

They will compare the damage estimates to the value of the vehicle to determine if the car is a total loss. The company will then send you an offer detailing how much the insurer is willing to pay for first-party repairs.

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Will your rates go up after you file a claim?

Budget-minded policyholders always get nervous when they’re filing a claim against their auto insurance.

After all, the last thing you want is your rates to go up because you decided to use a policy that you’ve paid for years. Luckily, your policy premiums don’t always go up when you file a claim. It depends on the kind of claim that you’re filing.

What happens to your policy after a comprehensive claim?

A comprehensive claim is a non-collision claim that’s caused by perils like fire, theft, falling objects, missiles, explosions, flood, glass breaks, or vandalism. Comprehensive claims are typically called non-fault claims because they can’t be avoided.

Since the claims aren’t avoidable, having a comprehensive claim won’t affect your future rates.

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Can having multiple comprehensive losses affect your premiums?

A single comprehensive claim won’t hurt your rates, but if you start to file several different comprehensive claims in a short period of time, the company may non-renew your insurance policy.

Some states allow insurers to charge clients who have excessive comprehensive claims higher rates. You should see if this is allowed in your state.

What happens if you file an accident claim?


It’s not as cut and dry if you’re filing an accident claim. When you file an accident claim, there’s a chance that your rates could go up, but it’s not definite. If you’re not responsible for the accident, you won’t be charged at your renewal.

To be not at fault, you must be less than 50 percent to blame for the events leading up to the crash.

If you’re at least 51 percent at fault for the loss, there’s a good chance that you will be surcharged when your policy renews. At-fault accidents don’t affect your rates if the damage threshold in the state isn’t exceeded or if you have an accident forgiveness provision on your policy.

As you can see, filing a claim doesn’t mean that you’re going to pay more next term.

It all depends on the type of claim and who caused the loss. If you’re not happy with your rates following a claim, use an online rate comparison tool and see if you can find a better deal by switching carriers.

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