It's a fact of life: You file an auto insurance claim just once and your premium goes up. But just how much of a hike are you looking at? A study by InsuranceQuotes and Quadrant Information Services has the answer.

Nick Diulio says the average car insurance premium increases by nearly 42 percent after filing just one claim. In New Jersey, that hike is 36 percent which is higher than both New York and Pennsylvania, which clock in at 31 percent.

He says while the average driver may look at this as a form of punishment for filing claim, what the insurance company will tell you is that after you file a single claim, you are statistically more likely to file a second claim. So in their eyes, you are more expensive to insure.

The good news is that you won't see your premium go up if the accident is not your fault. Your insurance company is not going to be involved in paying out a claim. Diulio says the person who hit you is responsible for compensating you whether it's through themselves or through their insurance company.

But Diulio says if you file a comprehensive claim — for example, for a tree falling on your car, theft or vandalism — that will increase your premium by about 20 percent. But Diulio says it's still odd that there would be a hike for something that is out of your control.

Diulio recommends negotiating with your insurance company to avoid a premium hike. It does depend who you insurer is and many of them do have accident forgiveness.

He says where you live absolutely affects what you pay. Every insurance market is individually regulated by the state in which they exist, says Diulio.

The study also finds that the costliest claim is bodily injury — a 47 percent hike nationally. States like California and New Hampshire have a more than 70 percent hike for filing a bodily injury claim. It's a 38 percent hike in New Jersey for a single claim.

"The way a lot of insurance folks will phrase it is, it's easier to repair a car than it is to repair a person," says Diulio.

But he says despite these increases, people should not be discouraged to file a claim. Insurance is there for a reason. Don't bankrupt yourself because you're worried that filing a claim is going to put a spike on your premium.


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