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How Fender Bender Accidents Affect Auto Insurance

2018 11 07 Blog Red Car Parked With Scratch On Fender

By Madeline Klein on December 10, 2018 in Insurance Basics

Causing a fender bender is enough to ruin any day. You’ve got the hassle of working with the driver whose car you hit, maybe talking to the police, and then working with your own insurance company. You’ll have to figure out what you may owe based on the coverages you have, and look into what your deductible actually covers.

And while you’re doing all of that, you’ll probably be wondering how this unfortunate accident will impact your car insurance rate. You figure it might cause an increase, but how much will a fender bender really affect your rate?

Factors of a rate increase because of a fender bender

A fender bender, or really any accident, will most likely cause your rate to go up. However, it depends on a few factors to determine how much your rate will actually increase. And of course, this will vary based on your insurance provider and your own specific situation.

1. How bad of an accident it was

Fender benders can range on how much damage was caused. A small fender bender accident without much damage probably won’t cause too much of a rate increase. However, if your fender bender was a doozy and both cars had significant damage, you may be looking at a bigger rate hike.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that bumper height plays a role in how much damage was caused. When one car’s bumper is higher than the other, more damage is caused in low-speed collisions (like a typical fender bender accident). That means that if your car has a higher bumper, like in an SUV, and you hit a car with a lower bumper, like a sedan, there will probably be more damage to repair. And we all know that leads to you and your insurance provider needing to pay more.

When it comes to your insurance rate, providers are all about balancing the risk. A bad accident with a lot of damage may signal to your provider that you are more of a risk to insure. They could offset that new risk by increasing your monthly rate.

2. Your driving history

The number of accidents you’ve been in could also play a role in how much your rate may increase after a fender bender. If this is the first accident you’ve been deemed at-fault for in years, and there’s hardly any damage you probably won’t see too much of an increase in your auto insurance rate. Some providers have “accident forgiveness,” and while Say doesn’t have that, we can let you know that the rate increase you’ll see after a fender bender really just depends on the cost of your claim.

On the flip side, if you’ve been in three other fender benders this year, that could signal to your provider that you’re more of a risk. If that’s the case, you’ll probably see a greater increase in your monthly rate. But don’t worry, after a few of years of safe driving, your rate will most likely go back down. A lot of providers focus on the past three years of accidents to determine your rate.

Should I file a claim for a fender bender?

We get that you could be tempted to keep your fender bender hush-hush and not tell your provider. It might seem more appealing to just bite the bullet and pay out of pocket if there wasn’t too much visible damage after the accident. But trust us, you don’t want to leave your provider out of the loop.

Yes, filing a claim means your insurance company will find out about your fender bender. And yes, that means that you may see an increase in your rate because of it. However, you should really file a claim anytime you’re in a fender bender or in an accident with someone else’s property, like their car. Even if it doesn’t look like much damage at the scene, you never know what is going on inside the car and how much hidden damage there is.

Filing a claim means you get to tell your side of the story. It also means your insurance could potentially help pay for any damage you’re covered for. Not filing a claim could make you pay entirely out of pocket for any damage your car or the other car may have. That would be a huge bummer.

Steer clear of accidents with safe driving

Fender benders could potentially be avoided with some simple safe-driving measures. One newer feature available on iPhones is the Do Not Disturb While Driving option. Putting your phone on this setting means you’ll be less tempted to look down at your phone because you hear the ding of a text. We’ve got some other safe driving habits too if you’re looking for more.

Not all fender benders are major accidents, but they still can cause a good deal of damage and can be a hassle to handle. The better you know what to expect from an accident, the better you can deal with the situation at the time. Knowledge is power, right?

Madeline Klein is Say's Digital Content Producer. She graduated from the University of Missouri with a Bachelor of Journalism, emphasis in Strategic Communication. Her experience is in writing and digital media. Madeline loves using her creativity to write and design new and exciting pieces of work for Say!