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Icy roads, crashes & insurance claims: Experts say do the math before deciding not to file

By Robbie Owens,

2023-02-03

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How to prepare a claim from a fender bender 01:57

NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) - If you were able to stay inside safe and warm during the most recent winter storm, here's one more reason why that was the right call: More than 1,000 crashes have been reported since Monday night across North Texas and that's likely not the full tally.

Even little 'fender benders' will still likely come with a very big bill.

"10 years ago, a bumper was a piece of steel that you bolted on the back of the car. Now it's got three or four sensors, it might have a camera," says Richard Johnson with the Insurance Council of Texas, "So getting rear ended now is so much more expensive."

"You're buying a headlight? Over $1,000. Minor repairs are going to cost you $2,000-$3,000 easy," says Mark Walker, Jr., owner of Walker Autobody and Frame in South Dallas.

Walker says the phones began ringing early and business has been brisk, even before the ice storm. But before considering repairs, prepare for that claim, says Johnson.

"Get their insurance information. Document damage. Take as many pictures, as many videos as you can," advises Johnson, "Wide angle... get close up. You really want to document everything that happened to your vehicle."

And then there's the increasingly complicated decision of whether to file a claim. With premium costs up sharply, Johnson knows that some drivers are hesitant to file claims. Walker is seeing it in his shop as well.

"One lady had full coverage," says Walker. "She refused to file a claim."

So, Johnson urges anyone involved in a crash to do the math before deciding it's too costly to file a claim - because that feared premium increase could hit your mailbox anyway.

"We always say that insurance is a team sport," explains Johnson. "It's not just what you did individually. Your insurance policy isn't a piggy bank that you're packing away money for in case you're in an accident. You're actually paying for the risk of the community around you. It's not necessarily a singular event that's going to make your rates go up."

Rather than reducing or dropping coverage, Johnson also encourages consumers to check those policies carefully and ask for any available discounts.

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