If you’ve had insurance for any amount of time, you’re aware that before your insurance company can pay out a claim, there is a deductible that must be met. This deductible can act as a great measure toward discerning whether or not a loss should actually be filed with your insurance company. Some of you may be thinking, “well isn’t that what insurance is for – my losses?” The answer is yes, but there are smarter ways to go about using your insurance properly so that it doesn’t get used against you.

Let’s consider your home policy. A big wind storm comes along and displaces some of your shingles. At this point people typically do one of two things. They either call up someone to come quote the damage or they call up their insurance agency to report a claim. In this situation, the first option is the wise one. If the roofing service quotes your damage at about $900 and you have a deductible of $1,000, the insurance company shouldn’t even be involved. However, too often homeowners will immediately call their insurance company without assessing the true cost of the damage, and end up filing a claim for something that was under their deductible amount all along. Since the claim was reported, however, it still will show up on their claim history and potentially raise premium costs. Contacting your insurance agent, not the company, as a resource for finding quality repair and free estimates could save you the cost of an unwise claim. Simply call in reference to a question, not a claim. Instead of $900, assume the cost was $1,100. At this point, it is over your deductible, so the insurance company technically could pay out for this claim. The question you will need to ask yourself is if making this claim will be worth the jump in premium and the amount of money that jump will accumulate to be over time. It may be wise to simply pay the extra $100 rather than risk losing your claims-free discount, or in some cases, cause a claims frequency trend and put yourself at risk of being cancelled altogether. When a catastrophic event occurs, insurance can come in to save the day. But with something comparably minor, don’t let your insurance policy work against you over time by claiming a loss within arm’s reach of your deductible.