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Should I Pay Out-Of-Pocket for Damages After A Car Accident?

No driver wants their car insurance premiums to increase because they got into an accident.  That’s why some drivers consider paying for damages out-of-pocket when they are at fault. In a single-car accident without injuries, they may pay to fix their own vehicle. If another car was involved, they may want to pay the driver for vehicular damage. However, trying to hide an accident from an insurer could cause trouble. If you are tempted to do this, you should think twice.

A Phoenix Car Accident Lawyer on Why Drivers Opt to Pay Damages Out-of-Pocket

Drivers who are involved in minor accidents with little damage and no injuries try to avoid insurers. They know insurance companies often add a surcharge following an at-fault accident. The stakes are even higher if they:

  • Were at fault for another accident in the last three years
  • Have a generally poor driving record
  • Have recent breaches of traffic rules

Multiple claims could result in the insurance company canceling the policy or increasing rates substantially. It is understandable why such drivers wouldn’t want to report another accident.

Whether or not you should pay out-of-pocket depends on several factors. If you simply scraped your car while entering or exiting your garage, you can safely handle the costs on your own. Chances are repairs will cost less or just slightly more than your insurance deductible. If your driving history is already checkered, you don’t need to add a minor scrape.

The Dangers of Avoiding Reporting an Accident to an Insurer

If another vehicle is involved, this decision would be riskier. You would be better off contacting your insurance company and your Phoenix car accident attorney. If you don’t know the other driver, you can’t trust that they will stick to whatever agreement you made. They may inflate the cost of the damage. They may claim they are injured later even though they seemed fine after the crash. The driver may even report the collision later and claim you caused damage which was actually there before.

The driver may also have legitimate reasons to pursue you. They may realize the damage was greater than believed at the time. They may also discover injuries after the adrenaline wears off. If this happens and the driver files an insurance claim it may be denied. They may have grounds to pursue you in civil court. All this could be avoided if you notified your insurer in the first place.

Paying out-of-pocket can save you money in the short term. However, it may not be worth the costs in the long run. Unless you know the other driver or have a good reason to trust them, you should involve your insurance company. Some insurers allow a small amount to be paid out for at-fault accidents without implementing a surcharge. It is usually around $500 dollars. If this applies to your policy, you can claim for minor damage without fear.

You should also note that insurance companies expect you to notify them of accidents within a reasonable time. This is usually just a few days. Therefore, you can’t take several days to decide what you want to do. If you take too long to notify the insurance company, they may deny your claim.

The Bottom Line on Paying Damages Out-of-Pocket

No one wants to pay more in car insurance premiums. However, paying another driver’s damages from your own funds can be very risky. Experts, auto accident lawyers, and car insurers all agree that it is best to report such accidents promptly.

On the other hand, you can consider not filing a report if you were the only person affected. If only your vehicle and property were involved in a minor accident, it’s a less risky choice.

Contact a Phoenix Auto Accident Lawyer Today for Advice

For advice on how you should proceed following your car accident, it is best to contact a Phoenix car accident lawyer. The attorneys at Warnock MacKinlay Law stand ready to hear the details of your case and offer guidance. If you are considering not reporting an accident, you shouldn’t call your insurance agent asking about what is required. This would raise suspicions. Instead, let one of our experienced attorneys answers any questions you may have.

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