More than 125,000 auto accidents are likely to have occurred over the Labor Day holiday weekend, according to just-released estimates by the Consumer Federation of America. The organization predicts 75,000 to 100,000 auto insurance claims could be filed as a result.
In our most recent surveys, 10 to 26 percent of filers encountered a claims-related problem, depending on the carrier. So it pays to know the right procedures for filing a claim and how to deal with any glitches you might encounter. Some tips:
- Always call your own insurer right away if a crash involves another person or vehicle.
- Never agree to skip reporting a crash out of sympathy for an at-fault motorist who promises to pay you out-of-pocket.
- If you're at fault, you might not want to file a report with your insurer if damage is limited to your own vehicle and you expect costs to be within your deductible or slightly more. You're not required to file a claim, and doing so can cause a premium hike.
Picking a top-rated insurer is also key to controlling your costs. An insurer can charge less in premiums but cost you more overall by lowballing loss estimates, forcing the repair shop to cut corners, and making you pay extra for the manufacturer's replacement parts if you choose them over cheaper knockoffs. Check our Car insurance buying guide and car insurance Ratings (from our 2010 report) for more. Consumer Reports' guide to insurance claims includes advice on how to get your due from home and life insurance policies as well as car insurance.