A car insurance claim is when you contact your insurer to report an accident, vandalism or the theft of your car – and you want your insurer to help cover the cost.
The compensation you ask for might be to cover the car itself, someone’s injury or personal belongings in the car.
Usually, yes. When it comes to car insurance, every claim is unique, but most drivers who’ve made a claim have one thing in common – their car insurance premiums go up.
Claims can range from being very minor, such as for a broken wing mirror or a dented bumper, to very serious, such as for a vehicle being written-off, or serious injuries or fatalities. The cost of any claims will partly determine what happens to the price of your future car insurance premiums.
The deciding factor will be whether you’re deemed to have a "fault” or "no-fault” claim. This means your insurer will consider the circumstances of your claim and determine whether you were to blame. This is not always clear cut - for example, if your car was broken into or vandalised.
The easiest way to check your car insurance claims history is to ask your current insurer for any claims you’ve made to date. You could also ask your previous insurer if you switched in the last few years.
You’ll need lodge a ‘subject access request’ if you want more information. This gives you the right to find out what information a company holds on you under data protection law.
In this case, you’d make a request to the Claims and Underwriting Exchange. This is the central database of all motor, home, personal injury and industrial-illness incidents reported by insurers in the UK. Your data is held for six years from the date the claim was closed.
A no-claims bonus gives you a reduction on your insurance premiums if you haven’t made a claim, so normally this discount would disappear in future once you’ve made a claim.
But you can pay to protect your no-claims bonus so that the bonus will remain after you’ve made a claim – even if the incident was your own fault.
This doesn’t mean your insurance premiums won’t go up even if your no-claims bonus remains intact. This is because:
Depending on the insurer, you’ll be asked to state whether you’ve made any claims in the last three to five years
Insurers will calculate your premium based on your risk profile, and any no-claims bonus is applied to that amount.
But your premiums should still be lower than if you didn’t have a no-claims bonus in place.
How long a previous claim impacts your cover will depend on the insurer.
Most insurers will ask about any claims and accidents you've had over a set number of years, and not be interested in any claims made before this time.
Typically, insurers will ask about the last five years, but some car insurance companies ask about the last three years, which could be worth searching for when you come to renew.
Remember, it’s crucial to be honest about any previous claims. If you’re not and your insurer later finds out, your policy could be invalidated and any future claims rejected.
There are several steps that can be taken to reduce the cost of car insurance for drivers who have made claims. These include:
Raising your voluntary excess: the higher your car insurance excess, the lower your premiums could be, but make sure you can afford to pay the excess if you need to make another claim
Considering where to park: keep your car in a more secure place, such as on a drive or in a garage, or at least under a street lamp, if possible
Switching to a cheaper car: perhaps trade in your car for one in a lower insurance group
Considering telematics: also known as black box insurance, this option uses GPS technology to gauge how well you drive, adjusting your insurance premiums accordingly.