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Covered? Yes -- but a claim isn't always wise

Question: My parked car had its side mirror hit off by a cyclist. I felt bad for the cyclist so told him not to worry about it, and he rode off.  I’m hoping the repairs won’t be too expensive because I now see a dent on the car as well. If it is costly, will my car insurance cover it?

Answer: If you have collision coverage and the cost of repairs is over your deductible amount, then the damage from the cyclist would indeed be covered by your car insurance policy.

If you have liability-only insurance, unfortunately, you’re out of luck. Property damage liability only covers those that you harm with your vehicle. It doesn’t cover your vehicle in any way -- even if the damages sustained weren’t your fault.

When you purchase collision car insurance for your vehicle, the car is covered for situations where you hit, or are hit by, another car or object. This means if it’s a bicycle, scooter or ATV that hits your vehicle, your collision coverage should cover the resulting damage (minus your deductible amount).

However, if the damage is minor, I would advise against making a claim.

Before calling your car insurance company, go get an estimate or two for the repair work. If the damage is under your collision coverage deductible amount, then there is no reason to notify your insurer about the accident because it wouldn’t be covered. Remember your collision benefits don’t start until your deductible amount is exceeded -- and there is no need to get a notation put in your file over an accident you didn't claim.

If the damage is just a bit above the deductible amount, then I still would recommend that you personally pay for the damage if you’re able. I always advise to pay for the small things, if you can, and save your physical damage coverages of collision and comprehensive for the major items you can’t afford.

Now, if the damage turns to be pretty extensive for the mirror and dent and the cost of parts and labor is way over your deductible amount, then the wise choice for your finances may be to make a collision claim. After your deductible is paid by you, your car insurance company would pay the remaining amount of repair costs.

If you’re aware of the name of the cyclist who hit your vehicle, don’t be surprised if your car insurance provider requires you to share this information if you make a claim. 

Insurance companies typically try to recoup the money paid out on a claim if there is a known at-fault party that it can pursue.  Your insurer may also try to get your deductible amount back from the cyclist.

Surcharge schedules of auto insurers vary greatly.  So, if you would receive a surcharge for making a claim for this incident would depend upon state laws and the internal guidelines of your insurer. This is another reason to save your car insurance policy for expensive claims and paying yourself for minor damages. 

Also, the amount of claims you make can affect your car insurance rates, or if your policy will be renewed. A few claims in a short period of time, even if all are minor, can result in your policy being non-renewed, or you being unable to find cheap car insurance if you decide to shop around.

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