Image: Parked cars partially submerged in flood water © Rich Iwasaki, Getty Images

Insurance companies are great judges of character. They've spent decades honing their skills at predicting whether you'll crash your car, burn your house down, fall ill or live a shorter-than-average life. That depth of knowledge is based on claims information -- who's made them, how often and how much the insurers got stuck for.

So you'd assume that insurance companies frown upon any type of claim. But there are cases in which an insurer is probably happy about your claim. How can this be? Here are five examples.

1. A claim they don't owe you money for

People submit claims all the time that insurers don't owe money on -- because the claim is lower than the customer's deductible. For example, if I crash into a stone wall and incur $900 worth of car damage and the deductible on my collision insurance is $1,000, my insurer doesn't owe me anything.

If you take away only one thing, take this: Don't report damage you won't be making a claim on. It will still likely make its way to your CLUE report, which is a seven-year history of property-damage claims that could affect your ability to buy cheap insurance in the future.

2. A claim the government will have to pay

Flood damage claim? Come on down! Flood insurance is generally provided through the federal government, so the National Flood Insurance Program will pay -- a program that, by the way, is on the verge of financial collapse.

3. A claim that someone else has to pay

If you've crashed a rental car, you may be making a claim against insurance that's not your personal auto policy. For example, if you charged the rental to a credit card, your credit card company may have automatic coverage. Or if you purchased the rental car agency's insurance, that coverage will kick in first, and your own collision coverage, if you have it, will be "excess" coverage.

And it's probably better that way. Making a claim on alternative insurance keeps your own insurance record clean and saves you from paying your collision deductible.

4. A claim on someone else's policy

Every state except New Hampshire requires drivers to carry liability insurance for the damage they do to others. If someone crashes into you, you should make a property-damage claim on that driver's auto policy, not your own collision coverage.

By making a claim on someone else's policy, you can avoid paying your collision deductible, and your own insurer will be perfectly happy with your decision.

5. A claim that will eventually save them money

Occasionally, an insurance claim can head off future, bigger claims, so who wouldn't be happy about that? Take, for instance, a visit to the doctor for preventive care that leads to the early diagnosis and treatment of what could have turned into a severe medical condition.

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Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, health insurers must cover preventive care 100%, so a checkup may not cost you anything. This health care reform timeline shows other current and upcoming provisions.

I'm sure your goal in life isn't to make a big insurance company happy. But remember that keeping your own insurance record as uncluttered as possible will likely help keep your future rates down.