Car insurance 101: Does it make sense for me to file for minor damage claims?
Is it worth it to claim insurance for small scratch or dent on your car? We find out…
If you are one of the many people wondering whether you should claim from your motor insurance after a minor incident such as a small dent or scratch, then you are not alone.
We take a look at when it’s worth it to submit a claim…
When something happens to your car, you are likely to first be annoyed and then you will start to think about how much it is going to cost you to fix this, and if you are one of the clever ones with vehicle insurance, then you are probably wondering if it makes sense for you to claim for minor damage.
Let’s have a look at some of the factors you should know before making a decision…
Find out what your excess is
The excess is the amount of money you have to pay in when it comes time to claim.
No matter who your insurer is, you will have an excess.
A low excess is can be about R1500. If your excess is this low and maybe the quote to fix your damage is about R3000 or R5000, then it might make sense for you to claim for your insurer.
But, if your excess is more than this, such as R10 000 (more or less), then it doesn't always make sense as this is bigger than your repair.
Another thing to keep in mind is that your insurer might take into consideration that you made a claim during the year when it comes time for your yearly premium review.
This means that your insurer might asses you as a customer who is higher risk, the more you claim the more of a risk you are seen as by your insurer when you are a higher risk then your premium increases.
Find out if you have a no-claims bonus?
There are a number of insurers who offer a no-claims bonus which is basically an incentive you get for not claiming.
This bonus is normally based on a percentage of your premiums that is paid back to you in cash after a certain amount of time if you have not made a claim. If you claim you could lose this bonus.
Was there another car involved in the event?
If there was another car involved in the incident, then things might start to get a bit tricky…
If the accident was the other driver’s fault, then he or she might apologise to you and promise to pay you out of their own pocket without having to involve an insurer.
Head’s up - always be careful of these sorts of promises.
If this person does not honour the deal between the two of you, then you will be left to fight this battle on your own and might have to chase them for weeks on end to try and get them to pay.
Another thing to think about is that perhaps what seems like just a surface dent might actually hide a bigger issue under your car’s panels which could lead to an expensive repair.
If the accident was your fault, then you could also offer to settle the damage costs yourself, but it could lead to a huge expense on your part to cover the damage and the person who you are dealing with might try and tell you the damage costs are higher than they actually are.
What about scratch and dent cover?
Some insurers are now starting to offer cover for minor claims known as scratch and dent cover, for an additional fee every month you will get additional cover for minor claims.
But, you need to be wary of these policies and here’s why…
Your insurer might only cover up to a certain (and small) amount. For example, if your cover is only up to R3000 for repairs, and your claim is for R3000.01, then your claim can be rejected.
This is why you should always read the fine print of your policy. ALWAYS.
So, what can I do?
You need to figure out if it’s worth it to claim from your insurer based on your excess and the other factors mentioned above. Sometimes when the claim is a couple of grand, then it might make more sense for you to pay for the damage yourself and leave car insurance for the ‘big damage’ incidents that range into the hundreds of thousands.
Scratches and dents come with owning a car - because of this, it might help if you save some extra cash for things like this.
It also helps to find a reputable and affordable repair shop who can buff out and repair any scratches.
If you would rather claim from insurance, then think about decreasing your excess, this will mean that you pay more every month but it will make sense to claim for minor damage when your excess is low.
Yours in uncomplicated car insurance,