If you are involved in an auto accident, the experience can be distressing and traumatic.
Along with receiving the right medical care, the potential financial consequences of the accident are usually uppermost on the minds of accident victims.
One of the most common concerns is whether your car insurance will go up as a result of an accident, even if you were not at fault. This guide will explain how car accidents impact auto insurance premiums.
What If I File An Insurance Claim Against My Own Insurer?
Most people have an understanding that their own insurer will not increase their insurance rates if an accident is caused by another driver.
What happens, though, if the driver at-fault for the auto wreck did not carry enough insurance to cover all of your damages and injuries?
In this situation, most people want to know two things:
1. Whether to claim against their own insurer.
2. If claiming will increase premiums.
Fortunately, when another party is demonstrably at-fault for an auto accident, you should proceed with making a claim against your insurance company. The insurer is not permitted to increase your rates as a result of this claim.
Many states require motorists to carry insurance of $25,000 per person, with a total minimum insurance coverage of $50,000 per accident.
This coverage should be sufficient, as long as you are the only victim who sustains injuries in the collision. When there are multiple victims injured in a single accident, the coverage must be split between all parties up to the limits in place.
Even assuming you were the only victim injured in the accident and you are eligible to recover $25,000 in compensation from the insurance policy of the at-fault driver, this may still not be enough. Medical expenses could easily exceed this amount if you are seriously injured in an auto wreck. If this happens, the other driver is considered underinsured. You would then need to make a claim against your insurer to recover any shortfall. This is classified as an underinsured motorist claim.
Some insurance companies offer optional add-on coverage. This can stack on top of the at-fault motorist’s insurance coverage. If, for example, the driver at-fault only carried $25,000 of liability coverage and you opted for underinsured motorist add-on coverage of $75,000, you would have $100,000 of total coverage available to you.
Maybe you are concerned that making a $100,000 claim against your own insurance carrier means you will be penalized. Legally, the carrier is prohibited from either canceling your policy or by raising your insurance rates.
What To Do If You Are Injured By A Hit-and-Run Driver?
All too often, drivers flee the scene of an accident after causing harm. If this happens to you and you are injured by a hit-and-run motorist, you should file a claim with your insurance provider. Hit-and-run drivers are classified as uninsured drivers, meaning your claim will be covered by this portion of your insurance coverage.
While your insurance carrier is legally prohibited from increasing your premium or from canceling your coverage, the insurer is likely to do everything possible to deny your claim. The claims adjuster may imply that some vehicle damage predated the accident, or that you staged the collision to benefit from a payout on an older vehicle.
To safeguard yourself, call the police immediately after the collision. Also, check for any witnesses to the accident and obtain their contact details. If there are any nearby local businesses, you can ask your personal accident injury lawyer to request a review of the surveillance footage.
How To Prove You Are Not at Fault
Auto insurance companies are liable to demand proof that the accident was not your fault, making it not-chargeable. While the definition of satisfactory proof varies from insurer to insurer, it often includes:
- Police report stipulating who was at fault for the accident
- Statement from the other motorist’s insurance company accepting fault for the accident
- Written driver’s statement attesting to their fault under penalty of perjury
- Legal document showing you were reimbursed for damages
How do a Chargeable Accident and a Non-Chargeable Incident Differ?
A chargeable accident is a type of accident that can lead to an increase in your auto insurance rates.
Typically, a chargeable accident is one where you were more than 50% responsible for the accident, and that it caused:
- Bodily injury or death
- Property damage (another car or a fence)
In some states, a chargeable accident is defined in terms of a dollar amount – claims involving a payment of more than $1000, for instance. The driver must still be more than 50% at-fault for the accident for it to qualify as chargeable.
Not all auto accidents are chargeable accidents.
A chargeable incident, by contrast, concerns a moving violation, such as:
- Speeding ticket
- Driving under the influence
- Leaving scene of accident
In the same way as a chargeable accident, a chargeable incident normally affects your auto insurance rates for between three and five years, depending on the state.
What Else Can Cause an Insurance Increase?
The following three variables can cause your insurance rates to rise:
- Severity of the accident
- Your driving history
- Policy details
Severity of the accident
Understandably, a minor fender bender will not impact your insurance rates as heavily as a serious crash causing severe injuries or substantial property damage.
Your driving history
Car insurance companies reward safe drivers. If you have had no accidents or moving violations for several years, your insurer may not raise your rates, even if you have a minor accident.
Some auto insurance policies include accident forgiveness, allowing you to have an accident without a rate increase being triggered.