Depending on the amount of your loss and your deductible, you might not even want to make a claim. Your $400 bike is stolen and you have a $300 deductible? Coming out $100 ahead may not be worthwhile if it means you'll lose your claims-free discount. So think hard and check your policy first.
In other situations-for example, making repeated claims for minor water damage in your basement-the insurance company could say you're ignoring the root cause and potentially will refuse to sell you that coverage anymore. "Insurance isn't a maintenance contract," says Bob Fitzgerald, executive vice-president and chief marketing and underwriting officer at Aviva Canada. You need to do your part.
By law, you must report any car accident resulting in an injury or damage over a certain dollar amount, which varies by jurisdiction. However, for minor at-fault accidents, which could affect your insurance premium (how much you pay per year for coverage), dealing with repairs on your own could be wise, says Leonard Sharman, spokesperson for The Co-operators Group.