While auto insurance companies are called upon to handle major accidents with bodily injury and serious physical damage, the most common car insurance claims are generally minor and do not involve great amounts of damage. By understanding the most common car insurance claims, you can save money on car insurance premiums by planning to pay cash for these expenses, thereby avoiding an insurance claim that may raise your rates.

1) Fender Benders

Surprisingly, the greatest number of car insurance claims involves damages of less than $1,500 and no bodily injury. Parking lot accidents in which a fender or wheel wall is dented, low-speed collisions such as rear-ending a car at a stoplight, and other small-damage claims consume a great deal of adjustors’ time and insurance companies’ expenses. If you do have a small accident in which the damage amounts to only a few hundred dollars of damage, it is usually wise to attempt to settle the claim for cash rather than allowing the person to file a claim under your insurance. Of course, not everyone is amenable to this solution, but if you can simply pay to have a taillight replaced, you may be saving yourself hundreds of dollars over the next few years in rate increases.

2) Windshield Breakage

Your windshield can be chipped or broken by a flying rock on the highway or by an impact from a thrown object. In many cases, the damage must be fixed before it gets worse, or it may be necessary to have the entire windshield replaced. Many companies offer this service at a reduced price, so it may be in your best interest to avoid a claim and simply pay your own replacement costs. Windshield damage may be covered under your policy with no deductible, so weigh your options carefully and ask your agent if a claim will result in an increase in your premium.

3) Whiplash and Back Injuries

The most common bodily injuries in car accidents involve minor impact-related problems such as whiplash. While whiplash can turn into a serious condition, it is often easily treated. You may not be able to pay a victim’s medical bills yourself, but if you can work out an agreement with the victim, it may pay to avoid a bodily injury claim on your car insurance.

4) Theft and Vandalism

Car theft and vandalism are on the rise, and surprisingly the types of cars stolen are not just sports cars or expensive sedans. One of the largest groups of cars stolen is small sedans that get good gas mileage such as Hondas and Toyotas. Thieves target these cars because they are easily re-sold. Vandalism can occur anywhere, but is more likely to happen in urban areas or places where there is high population density and a high crime rate. You can help to avoid problems with your car by parking in safe locations and installing theft-deterrent devices on your vehicle. The installation of theft-prevention systems may also save you money on your car insurance because many insurance companies offer discounts on your comprehensive premiums if you have these devices.

5) Animal Collisions

Deer and other animals frequently run into the road in front of cars, and they can cause accidents that range from minor to serious. It is usually a reflexive action to try to swerve and avoid an animal, but this can result in serious accidents with injuries to the driver if the car goes off the road and hits a tree or flips over. It is also likely that hitting a large animal like a deer will cause significant damage to your car and may also cause bodily injury. The safest bet is to drive only in daylight hours in heavily wooded areas, and stay alert for animals bounding across the road. If you do see deer or other animals where you drive, slow down and be prepared to avoid a collision if possible. Staying alert to this danger is the best option, although some companies sell devices that are purported to make noises that drive away animals as the car approaches. No verifiable data is available on the efficacy of these devices, but if they make you feel safer, you may want to invest in one.

If you can avoid small damages to your vehicle or those of others, you will be doing your part to keep your insurance rates low. Drive carefully and stay alert to those around you, and take care when parking, especially in tight spots. By doing these things, you can avoid insurance premium increases due to “small” accidents.