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Can You Enter A Claim If You Don’t Know Where The Accident or Damage Happened?

Updated on April 14, 2011

Can You Make A Claim If You Don’t Know Where The Accident Happened?

The answer to this question would be Yes.  You can enter a claim even if you don’t know where the accident or damage to your vehicle came from.  From time to time, I did take the occasional claim where someone walked out to their car and noticed a dent or scratch or some type of damage that they didn’t notice before.

What Do You Do Once You Notice The Damage?

The first thing you will want to do is call your insurance company as soon as you notice the damage.  They are going to ask you a series of questions.  They will ask you when it happened, where it happened, which vehicle did it happen on, where is the damage located, etc, etc.  Some of these questions you will be able to answer and others you won’t.  So just answer them the best that you can.  Try to think of the most recent places that you were at where the damage might have occurred.  Try to think of the last time that you would of noticed the damage if it was there.  All of these statements are going to be entered into the computer and given to the Claim Representative who is assigned to the claim.  Whether or not this claim is going to be a covered loss is going to be in their hands.  I would also ask them if they require you to or if they want you to get a police report.  Since you don’t know any information about where or when it happened, it might be difficult for the police to do a report, but some insurance companies want you to have one.  It helps to validate your claim as well.

Second, your going to want to get an estimate of the damages.   You want to know how much damage there is to determine if you want to enter a claim or not.   Most repair facilities will do free estimates, especially if you let them know its for an insurance claim.  But, be  sure to mention to them, that you haven’t decided if you want to enter a claim or not.  Some repair facilities work with your Insurance Company, and you don’t want them to start the claim process if your not going to enter one.

Will You Have To Pay Your Deductible?

This is going to depend on what type of damage was done to the car, and how the Claim Representative believes it occurred.  Since you don’t know Where, When or How it happened, they are going to look at the damage itself and try to determine how it occurred.

If it is determined that it was caused by another vehicle, then your looking at a Collision Claim.  So you would be responsible for paying your deductible amount that you have selected for Collision Coverage.  If your in a state that has it (like Michigan),  if you’ve selected Broadened Collision, then, typically you would not have to pay the deductible if your not considered 50% or more at fault.  So again, it’s going to come down to your Claim Representative and what they think happened to determine if your considered at fault or not.

If it’s determined that the damage was caused by Vandalism or Mother Nature (Hail, Wind, Etc) then your looking at a Comprehensive Claim.  People tend to have lower Comprehensive Deductibles than Collision Deductibles.  If you don’t then you really should consider lowering it.  In my opinion, most claims that are entered are comprehensive claims.  Things like hitting an animal, Wind, Hail, Fire, Theft, Vandalism, Stone Chips or other Glass Damage are all Comprehensive Claims.  It’s not much more expensive to lower your deductible on that either.  Ask your agent  for a free quote to check the difference, it only takes a few minutes.

Will Your Rates Go Up?

If you have went over the estimate of damage from your repair facility and have decided to enter a claim, the next big question is always, Will My Rates Go Up If I Enter A Claim?  I have always said, anytime that you enter a claim on your policy you run the risk of your premium increasing.   You also need to consider what your Claim Representative has decided was the cause of the damage and what type of claim it’s going to be.  Is it going to be a Comprehensive Claim or a Collision Claim?

Usually with a “Comp” or Comprehensive Claim, your policy will not be affected as much as if it were a collision claim.  You might see an increase but typically it takes more than one to see an increase when it’s a Comp claim.   My advice on this has always been, if your damage is close to your deductible amount then don’t enter the claim. Pay it out of pocket instead.  By doing this, you don’t have to worry about the premium increasing.  I know there are some people out there who will say, well that’s what I pay for Insurance for, and that’s fine…. just don’t complain if your rates go up because you had a string of bad luck and this is the 3rd claim you had in a year.

Insurance is there for you when you need it most.  Some people choose to use it for the small petty things.  Some people choose to only use it for the big stuff.  Keep in mind, the purpose of insurance is to put you back to where you were before you experienced a loss. If you vehicle happened to be a total loss, your insurance company is not going to buy you a brand new 2011 vehicle. Insurance is not in place to make you rich, or better off than you were prior to your loss.  It’s there to make you whole again.

So to sum it all up.  Yes, you can make a claim if you don’t know where or when the damage happened.  You may or may not have to pay your deductible, you may or may not need a police report, and you will want to get an estimate  to see how much damage you have.  Weigh the options and decide if you want to proceed with the claim or pay it out of pocket.  Your Claim Representative is going to be the one who ultimately decides if its’ going to be covered or not, and what type of claim it’s going to be.


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