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5 signs it's time to settle a car accident (and 5 that it's not)

CarInsurance.com Logo By Barbara Marquand of CarInsurance.com | Slide 2 of 11: new caption

1. The accident is minor.

Only accidents without major damage or injuries should be considered for handling outside the insurance system, says Penny Gusner, a consumer analyst for Insure.com. You might be able to handle it on your own if you scratched a car while backing out of a parking space, for instance, but not if you T-boned a car in an intersection.

If the accident is your fault, get a mechanic's estimate for repairs first, before you decide for sure to pay out of pocket. Set a limit for how much you'd be willing to pay before getting the insurer involved. You might think you barely dented a car, but hidden damage could lurk under the exterior and cost a bundle to fix.

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