questionshave you ever made a claim on your auto insurance?

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i think you don't actually have to have insurance to cover damage to your car. i'd think you just need liability insurance in case you cause the accident and have to pay the other person(s).

i could be wrong though. it's been known to happen.

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That's just the way insurance generally works. Insurers can't pay out more than they take in minus their overhead, advertising, personnel, and profit. So in order to pay out the occasional large claim they need to collect a lot of small premiums from careful drivers.

Usually the required part of car insurance is liability, which doesn't protect you so much as the guy you hit if you're at fault in an accident. If you have a loan on your car then the lien holder will require you to carry comprehensive/collision to protect their investment. But once you own the car outright you can drop that coverage if you're willing to "self-insure".

The only time I filed a claim the other party was at fault, but they were uninsured. So my insurance company was obligated to pay me for the damages and it was up to them to try to get that back from the responsible party. There was no effect on my premiums so at the time it worked out really well for me.

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Sure, a few times. The last time out was several years ago, when my car was vandalized in a parking lot (multiple cars were keyed). I've been in an accident (circa 2003) where my insurance company handled everything, although it was the other company that paid.

It made me a AAA fan for life, since they have an option where, if you take the car to their approved place for repairs, everything is just handled and you pay nothing. You don't have to interact with the other company, you don't have to worry about anything, you just magically get back your car, all fixed and pretty.

The only thing that sucks about auto insurance is that you can't choose not to have it.

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I have yet to make an insurance claim, on my car even though my car was hit & run while it was parked once. Since my deductible is $500, and my insurance rates would've gone up, I bought a new bumper cover for $150, and paid an auto shop to paint it and installed it myself. I've had insurance since I began driving, haven't gotten into any accidents, and haven't got any tickets either! And not to mention my home-owners insurance which I have yet to file a claim on either.

I do have an alibi though, my windshield was destroyed by a piece of debris, it only cost me $50 to replace my windshield and my rates didn't go up. But that his hardly worth the thousands I've paid over the years in insurance.

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@carl669: You're probably right on that - though it may vary from state to state. I have, at times in the past, had bare liability just to keep my costs down. Then eventually I started buying cars I cared about a bit more and went to better coverage. Now I have a young child so I want to make sure I have good coverage.

Nonetheless, I still feel a little cheated for all those years I paid for essentially nothing.

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Insurance was once banned by the Catholic Church as gambling. You're betting something bad will happen to you, the insurance company is betting it won't. I have only had one claim on my car insurance, it was a straight accident but legally my fault. A neighbor parked an SUV in front of my house, taking all of my tiny stretch of curb. I was pulling my small car forward and due to the size of the SUV and it's proximity to my driveway, I could not see there was an oncoming car. Between the SUV and the rising sun in her eyes, she also could not see me. She hit the very front of my car and ripped off the bumper. It did some damage to her car and she hit the windshield because she was going so slow (under 20mph) that the seat belt did not engage. Because she had the right of way, it was legally my fault, even though there was no one really to blame. Old neighborhood, close quarters. My neighbor felt bad and quit parking their SUV in front of my house.

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@samstag: As you said "Insurers can't pay out more than they take in minus their overhead, advertising, personnel, and profit."
That part irritates me about insurance companies in general (though more often health insurance which wasn't my point when I started this question). Insurance companies are often profitable well past the point that most other companies could even dream of. Yet they get huge subsidies from the government - some health insurance companies in particular even qualify for "non-profit" or "not-for-profit" status which IMHO is total bull. How can a non-profit afford to pay out millions in bonuses to their top execs?

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added: The woman who was injured was called by the prosecution for my accident ticket and told the judge that it wasn't anybody's fault and she didn't think I should have to pay the ticket. The judge confirmed that my insurance had covered her losses and she was fine, and dismissed the ticket.

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The problem is, the moment you need insurance is not the time to realize you don't have any.

If your $10,000 Hyndai runs into someone's $350,000 Ferrari you might want some coverage.

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@mtm2: Worse yet your $400 geo metro hits someone that needs long term care, that bill makes the Ferrari look like a cheap fix.

Yes we have used it. Interstingly enough when we used our insurance is when we decided we hate our insurer and changed insurance company. The company was very good at taking our money but terrible at communicating with the people they cover.
Great news:
We are saving money and have better house coverage.
Best news: we found out it was not our drivers fault and now our insurance company is going after the drivers insurance to pay for damages.

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@mtm2: What if it's the other way around? Many years back, I saw a Ferarri (Testarossa) rear end a Hyundai (Excel).

On that note, I know of folks personally buying out whatever they hit instead of dealing with the insurance. In one case, it was their neighbor's Daewoo Lanos that they were selling for $900; she managed to resell it for $600 after caving in the door.

Then there was another friend who was on the receiving end of his car getting bought out. Insurance was under the mom ... and it was the daughter's boyfriend (who fled the scene, BTW) that was driving. Insurance didn't cover that one ... or the 3 cars it took out. Long story short, she had to refinance her house to pay off a Volvo 850, a Chevy Silverado, and a 3-week old Rav4.

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@caffeine_dude, @narfcake

You've both nailed it.

It sucks to pay insurance for years and not need it, but the day you need it, potentially you REALLY NEED it.

Then there is the group that gets caught without it.

I used to live in San Antonio where it was rampant. A law was passed and your car was impounded and towed if caught without insurance - no excuses. Cop waited around long enough for your ride to show up (they were worried about someone with young children being stranded) but you paid for a tow, new insurance, impound fees, and cab fare if needed plus the ticket.

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@lparsons42: I think at least here in Texas auto insurers' profit is limited by law as a maximum percentage of their premium revenue. I think that kind of limit is supposed to be pretty common in the insurance industry.

I don't have a car payment so I opted out of all but liability insurance. It protects me from losing my shirt if I hit someone and do a lot of damage, but if something happens to my car I can buy another one with the money I'm saving on premiums.

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I do have insurance, and I did have a $25000 claim last year. The other party's claim which my company paid also was around $50,000 (even tho their car was older than mine, but they claimed injuries - imo, not true, but they were paid to keep them from claiming more at a later date). This because a guy-speeding-with an oxygen tank in his lap changed lanes unexpectedly and front swiped my car. Cop said it technically was my fault - I would argue that, but such is the system. What is really annoying is that you pay the premiums for years and then with one acccident, your premium esclates to an obscene level for the next three years. It is a win/win for the insurance company for sure. I would never think of driving without adequate coverage, although I agree when you have not used it, you kind of begrudge the premium.

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@klozitshoper: That leads me to another gripe about the insurance industry - the concept of "no-fault insurance". I moved from one "no-fault" state to another recently. I know people who have been in accidents in both though I have never had one in either.
What is the first thing a police office does at the scene of an accident in either state? Assign fault!
In other words, "no-fault" is at best dishonest and more likely an outright lie. Someone is always placed at fault no matter where. It seems that it is just an excuse for the insurance companies to raise the rates of both the guilty and innocent parties...

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OK, I'd just like to add my two cents worth to this. I worked for a very large insurance company for a few years (not that makes me an expert, but I did gain a lot of information).
1.) Is insurance required? If there is a lein (loan) on the vehicle, the bank will require comp/collision insurance. If you own the vehicle, you are still required to keep liability on the car (i.e. if the accident is your fault, there is adequate coverage to pay for their vehicle, AND bodily harm. Remember, medical bills can be extremely expensive. You pay for this coverage with your Auto Insurance.
2.) Insurance-preferred Auto Shop: Most larger insurance companies offer repair shops in the area that "they trust". Basically, they've setup an agreement with the shop that they will do proper estimates and repair what is required. They will often times guarantee this work as well. Note: You are NOT required to use these shops, but they will typically be faster/easier for you.

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continued:
3.) Insurance is what it is...it's not something that you want to HAVE to have; however, it's better to have it when you need it, than not have it at all. Whether we talk about Auto/Home/Life/Medical/Dental -- doesn't matter, we pay the premiums so that we don't have to have the (potentially) large bill for ourselves later.
4.) Insurance companies aren't always the bad guy (I know I will take some grief for this and many will not agree with it). Many of these companies are some of the largest donators to the community, and help to support things like United Way and Habitat for Humanity.

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I'm in the "no claim yet" group. Any minor occurrences were paid for out-of-pocket because they were less than the deductible.

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Totally on accident (no pun intended) but had an interesting claim on one of our cars -- We had comprehensive coverage on the car (relatively inexpensive since it was an older car) but were too cheap and lazy to pay the deductible and make a claim after the car received minor cosmetic damage from a hailstorm. Few months later, hit a deer on the highway. That time, we DID make a claim. After car goes to the shop, get a call from the claims adjuster asking about the hail damage. After telling him what happened, he wound up totaling the car once due to the hail, and then totaled the car a second time (albeit at a reduced value due to the first claim), and cut us a check that came out to only a few hundred bucks less than I paid for the car to begin with!

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(continued) apparently, because we were too lazy to file the first claim, the car was technically under comprehensive insurance for both incidents, even though the company usually would usually cancel the comprehensive coverage after the first time a car was totaled. we actually got compliments from some of the insurance company employees for doing such a great job of gaming the system. And the best part was, after the deer hit, paid a fraction of the insurance payout to get the front straightened out (not the prettiest, but perfectly functional) and drove the car for a couple more years after that.

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Haven't had a claim in many years, but still keep insurance. Oddly, had a weird dream that I got into an accident and woke up in hospital after getting a temporary CSF shunt. Really strange. Even stranger as the hospital was in a place I haven't live in years, and was done by colleagues I haven't seen in 15 years at least. Really weird.