Even a minor car accident can cost thousands of dollars in car repairs. You may leave your car accident feeling fine and in severe pain the next day. If the ridiculous medical expenses were not enough, you get a pleasant little surprise from your insurance company in the form of a higher premium. That’s right. Your insurance premiums might increase when you are involved in a car accident.
Proving that someone else caused your crash and injuries is critical to avoid increased insurance costs. Contact a car accident lawyer for help right away.
Car insurance rates can increase after an accident due to an activated surcharge. Car liability insurance coverage in every driver’s policy offers coverage for any bodily injury or property damage caused by the driver. Once anyone files a claim against the driver’s liability policy, the surcharge will start.
Being involved in a car accident can affect your finances for years. Once you get involved in a car accident that involves property damage, your rates can increase by at least 45 percent. If your accident harms anyone, your rates can increase by at least 47 percent. Your rates still increase regardless of whether you have a good driving record. These increases should not apply when someone else is at fault.
Depending on the insurance company, you may have to submit proof that you were not the at-fault driver of your car accident. This proof may be the only way to classify your accident as non-chargeable. Evidence includes a statement from the other driver’s insurance company declaring fault, a police report establishing fault, a legal document showing proof of reimbursement for the accident, and the other driver’s voluntary written statement declaring fault.
Insurance rates will increase if you are a car accident’s at-fault driver. If you did not cause the car accident, your rates should not increase. Some examples of car accidents that should not result in higher premiums include:
The accidents listed are examples of non-chargeable accidents. Insurance companies consider chargeable accidents where the driver is at least 50 percent liable for the accident. The accident also had to be responsible for causing both damage to physical property and bodily harm. Some states group chargeable accidents by a specific dollar amount. For example, one state may define a chargeable accident as any accident that involves a claim over $1,000 in property damage.
One of the most troublesome aspects of a car accident is that it remains on your driving record for years to come. Even if you attempt to switch insurance companies to pay a smaller premium, the new company will still review your driving record and claim history. Once this happens, the new company will adjust your car insurance rates accordingly.
In addition to your claims history and your driving record, several other factors affect how high your insurance premiums will be. Some of the following factors include:
The insurance company that provides your auto insurance will determine your premium. For example, the average annual premium rate for a driver with AAA insurance after an at-fault accident is $3,453. This is nearly double the annual premium rate for a driver insured with State Farm, who has a yearly premium of $1,769 after an at-fault accident.
Another factor that increases your chances of a higher premium is becoming a high-risk driver. In essence, insurance companies view drivers with previous claims or a history of causing accidents as high-risk drivers. Insurance companies assume that high-risk drivers have a greater chance of filing claims in the future.
Another factor that can increase your car insurance rates is your age and gender. Insurance companies have no issues charging younger drivers higher premiums based on the assumed risk of younger drivers. The same logic can apply to gender. Younger males are more likely to be charged higher premiums because they engage in more dangerous behaviors.
The type of coverage that you select will also increase your premium rates. Some standard insurance policies purchased are comprehensive coverage, uninsured motorist coverage, collision coverage, and medical expense coverage. Some drivers make the mistake of dropping these types of coverage as a way to avoid paying high premiums. However, that action can end up hurting them in the long run if the insurance coverage they drop is the coverage they need.
Another factor that can increase your premium rates is the damage your car accident caused. You may pay higher premiums if your car accident involves severe property damage or bodily harm. If the damage was minor, like a fender bender, your insurance rates might not rise by that high percentage.
In addition to the damage in an accident, the severity of your claim can also increase your premium rates. For example, if your accident totaled your car, your rates may increase.
The length of time that your accident remains on your driving record varies. Many accidents stay on a driver’s record for three to five years. That means that whenever you want to switch insurance companies, the new company will consider any accident within three to five years. Depending on the insurance company, the surcharge after an accident can decrease each year you are not involved in another accident.
Car insurance rate increases can frustrate you. They can impose a financial burden that follows you from policy to policy. However, the increase does not have to last forever. You can take action to help lower your premium rates following an accident.
One of the actions you can take is to enroll in an accident forgiveness program. An accident forgiveness program is a program that drivers can enter to have their surcharges waived. You may get asked to pay an additional fee based on your driving history. If your driving history is good and you only have one accident, you probably will not have to pay additional costs. If your driving record is average or worse, you may get asked to pay an additional fee for this program.
This program only benefits drivers who have one at-fault accident on their record. If you possess a good driving record and are not a high-risk driver, your insurance company may automatically offer you a chance to enroll in the program. However, not every insurance company provides this program.
Some states also consider your credit score when increasing your insurance rates. If your insurance company considers your credit score, you can improve your credit score to lower your insurance rates. Paying off debts and remaining on track of your expenses will help to increase your credit score.
Although you may think searching for new insurance policies after your accident is pointless, it is always best to shop around and keep your options open. You can look into different insurance policies and their discounts during your renewal period. Even though finding an insurance policy that pays equally well as before the accident is challenging, you can still find an insurance policy that offers a more affordable premium rate.
Another way to lower your premium rate is to ask about different discounts insurance policies offer. Some insurance companies provide mileage-based discounts to drivers who join monitor-based apps and engage in safe driving practices. Some insurance companies also offer multiple policy discounts when drivers group their other insurance policies. For example, there can be a discounted rate on drivers who enroll in home, auto, and business insurance.
Another way that you can lower your premium rate is by increasing your deductible on your collision or comprehensive coverage. A deductible is an amount you must pay before your insurance policy can kick in. The higher your deductible is, the lower your premium rate will be. Before raising your deductible, consider other factors like whether you can pay the deductible out of pocket for your accident.
Another action you may want to consider is making changes to your coverage. By lowering the amount of coverage you possess, you can seriously reduce your premium. However, this can be an issue as some forms of coverage are required for you to carry. For example, many states require drivers to possess collision and comprehensive coverage. In any case, speak with your insurance provider before removing any coverage from your policy.
However, removing collision and comprehensive coverage may help if you possess an older car. Cars depreciate the second you buy them. If your vehicle is worth less than your insurance premium, it does not make sense to continue paying for coverage that will not be cost-effective in the long run.
Depending on your insurance company, you can also consider enrolling in some driving classes and receive a discount. Some insurance companies offer discounts to drivers who voluntarily enroll and complete defensive driving courses. Because each state has different procedures for enrolling in accredited driving courses, speak with an insurance agent or broker about the process and availability.
You can also reduce your premiums when purchasing a safer or more fuel-efficient car. Some insurance companies also raise your premiums based on the type of car that you drive. For example, drivers who purchase larger vehicles like pick-up trucks are more likely to pay higher premium rates based on the possibility of an accident. Drivers who buy safer or greener cars can take advantage of different discounts.
Some insurance companies may also suggest that you install anti-theft devices into your car as a way to lower your premiums. Insurance policies like Geico offer drivers 25 percent in potential savings if they install anti-theft systems. If you speak to your insurance adjuster, they can suggest different devices that qualify you for a discount. Car alarms are one example of an anti-theft device that can offer you a discount. Before installing these devices, however, you want to make sure that it makes sense financially to incorporate them into your car.
After being in a car accident, three or five years is a long time to continue to pay for a car accident. When you want to lower the cost of your insurance premium, you should consider having a lawyer review your policy and consider ways to reduce your insurance premium. If you did not cause a crash, your lawyer might ensure that your rates do not unnecessarily increase.
The best way to avoid insurance costs and expenses is to have the right attorney prove someone else caused your injuries—a distracted driver, someone driving under the influence, an aggressive driver, or even a company, such as a driver’s employer or vehicle manufacturer. Proving fault helps you obtain compensation and avoid insurance cost increases.
Do not struggle financially to maintain your car’s insurance coverage. Contact a car accident lawyer after a crash to protect yourself and your right to compensation.