Here's Why You Get An Estimate For Minor Car Damage Before Filing An Insurance Claim

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No one wants to find their car in worse condition than when they left it, but accidents do happen. And even if the damage was minor, there are a few reasons why you may want to get a repair quote before you file a claim.

Recently our friend Laura, the editor in chief of The A.V. Club, got herself a brand new Honda Civic Si after being featured on What Car Should You Buy? She loves it so far.


But within just six days buying her car, some bonehead crashed into her mirror while the car was street parked. She was as upset as any of us would be after having a brand new car get damaged. Luckily, it was just the mirror that was damaged, but because the mirror is a pretty crucial safety device the car was deemed “unsafe to drive” in its current condition.

Naturally, she called her insurance company to start the process of getting it fixed, but that’s when a minor accident became a major headache. The insurance company would not be able to send an adjuster out for five days and said she needed to file a police report. Of course, the local police station was not where they handled that kind of thing, so she would have to go across town.


After she told me the whole ordeal I asked: “How much is your deductible?” For those that aren’t aware, the deductible is how much money you are on the hook for when the insurance does a repair. If it’s $500 that comes out of your pocket and the insurance company covers the rest. This is an important number to know, because you have to pay this no matter what. There are some instances where your insurance company can recover your deductible later from the at-fault party but that rarely happens. Deductibles vary depending on the policy, and generally the higher the deductible the lower your payments.

Like most folks, Laura’s deductible was $500, and knowing that a side mirror couldn’t be all that expensive to fix I told her to call her local Honda dealer and get a quote on the repair. After talking with the shop they said the mirror would be $255 and $140 for the labor.


Because the repair cost was below her deductible threshold she was able to schedule a repair at the dealership and didn’t have to go through the hassle of filing a claim a police report or going through the insurance process. She actually saved money here by not filing the insurance claim.

What most people may not know is that by handling inexpensive damage claims on your own, not only are you saving time but you may benefit in another way—your car’s resale value.


Most of the time when an insurance claim or an accident report gets filed with the police department, that will show up on a vehicle history report like a CarFax. The unfortunate part about this is that once that is in the report, it affects the resale value of the car, even if the damage was minor. If there are two similar cars for sale and one has an accident history and the other does not, a buyer would expect to pay less for the one that was in a collision regardless of the extent of the damages.

If you fix the damage without the claim, the likelihood of the collision showing up on the report is much lower. While some repair shops may submit this information into the databases that are pulled for these reports, most don’t. However, if and when the time comes to sell your car you would be obligated to disclose that damage happened even if it wasn’t on the CarFax.


Granted, this is only for minor stuff, and anything above it should clearly be handled by your insurer—that’s what it’s for.

But even the simplest things can be expensive to fix on modern cars. And knowing your deductible and the repair costs ahead of time for something minor could save you some hassle and maintain your resale value.