Car insurance companies typically have a monetary threshold that must be reached for accidents to be surcharged. If this is your first accident and you otherwise have a clean driving record, it’s possible it won’t affect your rates if the claims paid out are low enough.

But whether your rates will rise is purely up to the rating system of your current car insurance company, as governed by state laws. Ultimately, you’ll have to find out by asking your agent or looking at your insurer’s surcharge schedule.

In some states, it’s the state instead of the insurance company that decides the monetary threshold for a surcharge. For example, in New York, a surcharge isn’t permitted if the total damage by an accident is less than $2,000 and there were no injuries.  However, if you have two or more accidents within a three-year period, even if each is under $2,000, it can cause your rates to rise. 

The fault also makes a difference to car insurance companies.  If you didn’t receive a ticket, a single-car accident is likely to be considered your fault for losing control of the car – even though icy conditions were involved. 

If you just recently started your car insurance policy and are a young driver who doesn’t have years of driving experience without accidents, probably you don’t have options on your policy like accident forgiveness or vanishing deductible that could help.

To get your car fixed using your car insurance, you will need to have collision coverage.  If you only have liability coverage and not collision, you’ll have to pay out-of-pocket for all repairs to your vehicle. 

If you hit a pole, wall, fence or some other object to damage the side of your vehicle and that object were damaged, you may find that the owner may place a claim against your property damage liability coverage.

Remember that collision insurance coverage comes with a deductible amount; thus, it’s recommended before filing a claim for your car’s damage that you get an estimate of the repair costs.  You may find that it will cost less than your deductible amount, in that case, you don’t have to file a claim.

If your car’s repair costs are much more than your deductible, go ahead and make the collision claim since you need your car fixed.

— Penny Gusner contributed to this story.

author image
Contributing Writer

Shivani Gite is a personal finance and insurance writer with a degree in journalism and mass communication. She is passionate about making insurance topics easy to understand for people and helping them make better financial decisions. When not writing, you can find her reading a book or watching anime.