There wasn’t much I could do. The deer ran out in front of me and froze in the middle of the road. I had only an instant to react and knew swerving into on-coming traffic was likely to get me killed. My only choice was to hit the buck and deal with the inevitable damage.
I’ve hit deer before and they are sturdy creatures. A mere tap can cause more damage than is seemingly possible. My collision will mean repairing my bumper, hood, headlight, fender, door and side mirror. One deer is going to cost me thousands.
Although I do have auto insurance, whether or not to make a claim is not a no-brainer in this situation. In fact, there are plenty of good reasons why I might want to go it alone and pay for the damage out of pocket. Here are the things I need to consider before looking for my insurance company to pick up the tab.
Every insurance policy has a deductible. In a no-fault accident like mine, it means that I’ll definitely need to cover the first $500 of damage. There isn’t much use in making a claim if damages don’t exceed the deductible. You’ll only succeed in adding an accident to your driving record.
In this particular situation, I have plenty of damage to justify making a claim.
Insurance is when you are given an umbrella on a sunny day, but are asked to give it back the moment it rains. After making a claim where the insurance company is liable to pay for damages, you can be certain that your premium payments will increase as a result. It creates an interesting implication for your finances. You might be spared a large lump sum payment up front, but your monthly expenses will go up for years.
This is the consideration that I’m really struggling with. My car has low mileage, but it is 11 years old. It might have another 5 years in it. However, based on the age of the vehicle, it probably wouldn’t fetch much on the retail market. Since repairs might cost thousands of dollars, the insurance company may just hand me a check for the value of the car and move on.
That puts me in a tough situation. I’m not likely to find such a reliable vehicle in the same, excellent condition. Odds are, I’d need to spend quite a bit more to get a replacement vehicle that I’d be happy with. The worst part is, I’m only 5 months away from paying off the car and owning it free and clear. I was looking forward to being payment free. Making a claim, could mean going back to the start on a car loan.
Personally, I’ve decided to get my insurance company involved, but it wasn’t an easy decision. The important thing to recognize is that having an accident is not necessarily enough to justify a claim. You need to make sure that you are willing to cover the consequences of doing so.