If you can avoid auto claims, it will save you on your insurance. The rates you pay are based, in part, on your past driving and claims history. While no one wants to have an accident, they do happen on occasion. That’s why we call them accidents, after all. Auto insurance is an important part of protecting yourself and your assets.

Even more, it can save you time and injury if you can keep your car and its occupants safe. Here are 10 of the most common auto insurance claims and tips on how you might avoid them.

The Auto Claim: Rear-End Crash

A rear-end crash is one of the most common accidents on the road, and also one of the most avoidable. Outside of inclement weather and poor road conditions, many rear end accidents are a result of following too closely or not paying attention when driving.

Two easy ways to avoid this type of collision: Keeping space around your car and putting down your phone when driving.

Most new cars have automatic emergency braking to help keep drivers safe. In 2023, the U.S. Department of Transportation even proposed a rule that would require all passenger cars and some trucks to have automatic emergency braking systems. While positive news, it’s important to remember there is no true replacement for staying focused on the road.

The Auto Claim: Windshield Damage

Windshield chips and crack claims take a top spot on this list, yet many drivers don’t believe this type of damage is avoidable. While you can’t make rocks and pebbles stay on the ground, you can take steps to avoid the most common situations where windshield damage takes place.

Most chips and cracks come from rocks thrown up in the air by large trucks, snow removal equipment and other debris from the road. If you can keep your distance from these trucks and situations, you are doing your windshield and your wallet a favor.

For example, if you live in an area with dirt and gravel roads, keep your distance when trucks turn on or off of an unpaved road. In areas with frequent snow and ice, leave plenty of room between yourself and all other cars. If you see plows ahead, add extra distance, as plows often drop gravel on the road to help improve traction on potentially icy roads.

The Auto Claim: Stolen Catalytic Converter

Across the nation, law enforcement is reporting a dramatic increase in the theft of catalytic converters from personal vehicles. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), there were fewer than 1,300 such thefts reported in 2018. That number jumped to more than 64,000 in 2022.

Hybrid vehicles, trucks and SUVs are popular targets. Because a hybrid car doesn’t use the gas engine as often, the catalytic converter retains more of its precious metals. Trucks and SUVs can also be targets because it’s easier for thieves to slide underneath the vehicle where the converter is located.

Take these steps to help prevent theft of your vehicle’s catalytic converter:

  • Park your vehicle in your home garage or another secured parking area. If you don’t have a home garage, install motion sensor lights in your driveway or park in a well-lit, highly visible area with security cameras.
  • If you have a high-riding vehicle, like a truck or SUV, back into parking spaces near lower profile cars, fences, bushes or other obstacles to make it more difficult to access underneath your vehicle.
  • Set your car alarm to respond to vibrations, if you have one.
  • Purchase a specialized clamp or shield to protect your catalytic converter. Talk with a trusted mechanic or dealership to determine if one is right for your vehicle.
  • Talk to your local body shop about etching your vehicle’s VIN on the catalytic converter. VIN etching can help police identify the owner and aid in a criminal investigation. It can also alert metal recyclers that the catalytic converter may have been stolen.

The Auto Claim: Damage to a Parked Vehicle

Have you ever returned to your parked car to find that it’s been nicked, dented or scratched? While you can’t always avoid parking lots, you can take some steps to protect your vehicle and the items inside it.

If you have a garage, that is the safest place to park. When away from home, avoid parking too closely to other cars. Try to park away from tight corners, turns and driveways where someone may bump or scrape your car when passing by.

The Auto Claim: Theft to a Parked Vehicle

In October 2022, a viral TikTok challenge encouraged people to steal certain Kia or Hyundai models, targeting those that require a key in the ignition to start. While originally posted a while ago, this trend is still, unfortunately, alive and well. In some areas of the U.S., this challenge has helped spark car thefts at a frequency that’s more than 30 times normal levels.

No matter what you drive or where your car is parked, there is always a risk of a break in. By taking a few precautions when leaving your car, you can lower the chance of a thief getting in. Never leave your valuable items in view when you park your car. Put them inside consoles within your car, a closed off trunk or take them with you. When parking, make sure you are in a well-lit area, especially at night.

The Auto Claim: Backup Accident

Backup accidents are more common than you think. Whether you’re pulling out of a shopping plaza, or even backing out of your own driveway, an accident can occur easily. That’s why the NHTSA now requires all new cars to have a backup camera, something we started seeing in all 2019 models.

Many cars today are already equipped with backup cameras. The best step you can take to avoid a backup accident is to get a camera-equipped vehicle. You can also buy a backup camera kit for your car for around $70 to $300 depending on the features you want.

To avoid a disastrous back up accident, there are a few tips you can follow:

  • Before getting into your car, take a look around to take in traffic and other surroundings
  • When backing out, go the shortest distance possible
  • Back out slowly, using brakes and mirrors until you’re fully out of the spot
  • Reverse in a straight line
  • Stay off handheld devices when backing out to avoid distraction.

The Auto Claim: Single Car Crash

Single-car crashes can be dangerous to you and those around you, causing immense traffic jams or even contributing to more accidents. But, similar to rear-end crashes, many single-vehicle crashes can be avoided, outside of weather-related incidents.

From drowsy driving to road rage, many causes of single-car crashes can be avoided by staying diligent on the road and focusing on wellness behind the wheel, including the acronym (EX) H.A.L.E.

Newer technologies exist to help keep drivers safe, like ensuring cars stay in the correct lane, even if the driver nods off.

The Auto Claim: Hail damage

Hail Alley,” where Nebraska, Colorado and Wyoming meet, averages seven to nine hail days a year, according to the National Severe Storms Laboratory. Frequent damage includes plenty of vehicles with broken windshields, dented hoods and water damage.

Tip: Using your garage for extra storage might seem like a great way to add more space to your home, but it may not be worth it if it means your car will be unprotected when the bad weather hits. You are best off parking where your car is covered if possible.

The Auto Claim: Personal Injury

Back and neck injuries are very common with car accidents. Even a minor fender bender can lead to whiplash, back and neck pain and other minor injuries. At higher speeds and intersections, injuries get more serious.

The best way to avoid injuries is to follow traffic laws and always wear your seat belt. As a general rule, the newer the car, the safer it is. Over time, the government and car makers introduce new safety standards and technologies, like backup cameras and crash avoidance systems. If you have the means to drive a newer, safer car with top safety ratings, upgrading is one of the best options you have to help prevent injury in the event of an accident.

The Auto Claim: Crash at Intersection

Busy and confusing intersections are ripe for a crash, but they can happen at any intersection at any time. Never take it for granted that other drivers will obey traffic signals and be alert when approaching an intersection.

When preparing to go after stopping at a red light, take a moment to look for other drivers speeding to make it through a yellow light. If you are that driver approaching a light that turns yellow, make the cautious decision and hit the brakes. This will not only save yourself, but even pedestrians walking near the scene.

The Federal Highway Administration works with cities, states, insurance companies, transportation experts and other concerned citizens to make intersections as safe as possible. But at the end of the day, it falls on us as drivers to make the best decisions to help everyone reach their destination safely.

Take the Steps to Stay Safe

As a driver, you have the power to drive safely and take steps to avoid these common insurance claims. If you do, you will help make sure you and your family are safer along with everyone else on the road. As a bonus, safe driving and avoiding claims may lead to car insurance savings.

Every time you get behind the wheel, you are responsible for both safe driving and defensive driving. Knowing what to look out for, like cognitive distractions, best prepares you to end every journey with a safe arrival.

As a reminder, never risk driving after drinking, drug use or any time there is even a remote possibility you won’t be able to safely reach your destination. Also, talk to your doctor and check your medications to see if it’s okay to drive while taking them.

Do you have any tips for safe driving or keeping your vehicle safe that you’d like to share with our readers? Add them to the comments.