If you have an accident in your car, even a minor one, you probably think the first thing you need to do is inform your insurance company so they can start processing a claim. But this isn’t necessarily the case.

Studies have shown that premiums can be doubled or even trebled because of a claim made on a motor insurance policy. The exact amounts and reasons for the price hike vary between insurance companies, but they can be substantial and may mean the loss of a no-claims discount or other benefits.

Don’t assume that staying with the same insurance company for a long time will automatically prevent a price hike. Regardless of loyalty, if you make a claim your insurer will up your premiums, although some do take individual circumstances into account. Read the small print in your insurance contract to see what can adversely affect the price.

To avoid potentially high premiums following a claim, it might be advisable to see if you can cover any repair costs yourself, especially in the case of smaller claims. For example: if your policy excess is £200 and the repairs are going to cost £250, it would be better to pay that extra £50 than face a higher sum being added onto your insurance premium. This also means that you could keep any no-claims bonus you may have accrued.

You can also lessen the chances of a premium price hike by simply being more careful on the road. Many claims which are made can be avoided by safer driving; slowing down on wet roads, sticking to the speed limit, using mirrors more and just generally being more vigilant are all things which could prevent some accidents from occurring. Keep your car maintained and serviced regularly, and you can reduce the risk even further.

If you do find yourself with higher insurance premiums after making a claim, try shopping around to compare car insurance quotes from other companies, even if your policy isn’t up for renewal. You may find you can obtain cheaper car insurance from a different firm.

About the author

J Tillotson is a financial author in the UK