Auto insurance is meant to soften the financial blow of accidents and other vehicle mishaps, but according to a new study, these policies can come with expensive triggers that are set off when you actually file a damage claim.

wrecked car
Sergey Kolesnikov, ThinkStock

According to, New Jersey drivers pay an average of 62 percent more for car insurance after making a single claim.

"When we look at what that means for your actual policy amount, it could cost consumers about $600 a year in addition to their base rate," said Laura Adams, senior analyst at

Only Massachusetts and California posted a higher first-claim spike. The national average was 41 percent.

According to Adams, New Jersey is among the states that focus largely on safety when studying and declaring rates.

"So when a consumer does make a claim, they're considered a risky customer in the eyes of the insurance company," she said.

Michael Barry with the Insurance Information Institute didn't put much stock in the study's findings, but said if any driver receives a renewal notice with a percentage increase such as the one the study suggests, that driver should immediately start shopping around for another policy.

"You have a very competitive marketplace," he said, noting drivers can also help themselves by taking advantage of certain discount programs.

A calculator provided by advises drivers on whether or not they should make a claim. According to Adams, motorists may be wise to avoid insurance companies for small jobs.

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