Claims happen all of the time, but it may not always be necessary to get you insurance involved. If the claim will only amount to a small payout over your deductible I recommend taking care of it yourself. Save filing a claim for the big disaster. That's what insurance is for.
My rule of thumb is if the repair is 3x your deductible, file. For example, hail storm and the car has $5000 worth of damage, file the claim. The deductible is usually $500. Garage door is damaged due a mishap, repair is $1300, don't file - the deductible is usually $1000. The insurance would only pay you $300 in that situation and you would have a claim following you for 5 years.
Most companies want to see no more than 2 claims in 5 years. If you take care of most of the small stuff on your own, when you do have a claim, it is more likely to get everything handled quickly.
If you must file a claim here are some tips:
WHAT TO DO:
CALL YOUR AGENT FOLLOW THAT ADVICE
HAVE YOUR POLICY NUMBER
DATE OF LOSS
TYPE OF LOSS
WHAT PROPERTY WAS INVOLVED
CALL THE INSURANCE COMPANY OR GO ONLINE TO AVOID LONG HOLD TIMES.
HAVE PATIENCE – MANY ARE GOING THROUGH THE SAME THING
GIVE ACCURATE CONTACT INFO FOR CLAIMS TO GET AHOLD OF YOU
IT WILL TAKE UP TO 72 HOURS FOR THE ADJUSTER TO BE IN CONTACT WITH YOU
MINIMIZE THE DAMAGES BY TAKING PRECAUTIONS TO PREVENT FURTHER DAMAGE – TARP THE ROOF, COVER UP A CAR WITH BROKEN GLASS ETC.
CHOOSE A LOCAL, REPUTABLE COMPANY TO COMPLETE REPAIRS.
KEEP ALL RECEIPTS.