How Does a Car Accident Affect Your Insurance

by: Sonja Bradley
If you are at fault for the accident your insurance premium will increase, and even if the accident's not your fault your premium could increase. The determining factors include, your driving record, claims history, and type of insurance policy you have.

You’ve just been in a car accident, and you feel like you have dodged a bullet because no one is seriously injured. However, your next thought is, will the accident affect my already high insurance rate?

If you are at fault for the accident, your insurance premium will increase, and even if the accident’s not your fault, your premium could increase. The determining factors include your driving record, claims history, and type of insurance policy you have.

Insurance companies are in business to make money. If you become a risk to their earnings potential, they raise your rates. Persons who make car accident claims are deemed high risk insured and pay higher premiums to offset the risks. Let look at the effects of car accidents on insurance in greater detail.

Does Your Insurance Go Up if Someone Hits You?

Just because you got hit by someone doesn’t automatically cause your insurance rates to go up. But if you file a claim against your insurance policy, then yes, it will likely increase. Ideally, the at-fault party has a valid insurance policy to cover your losses; if so, it’s unlikely your rates increase.

Raising rates for not-at-fault accidents varies by company, some raise your rates, and some apply a surcharge, and others may not raise rates, especially if it’s your only claim within the last three years.

Why might you need to file a claim with your own insurance company when you are not at fault for the accident? If the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance, doesn’t have sufficient coverage, or flees the scene of a crash, you may have to file a claim with your insurance to recover your losses from the accident.

Filing a claim, regardless of fault, raises the possibility that your premium could rise. However, if it’s your first accident and you have a good driving history, without moving violations and no prior insurance claims, your insurance may not increase at all.

If your insurance company increases your rates for a first time filing of a not-at-fault claim, it may be wise to start looking for a new carrier. When choosing a new company, ask if they surcharge for a not-at-fault accident.

How Long After a Car Accident, does it Affect your Insurance?

Accident claims typically affect your insurance for three years. How it affects your insurance varies by company. Some will raise your rates a set amount over the next three years, while other companies raise your rate initially then gradually decrease it over three years.

To ensure your rates return to its initial levels, you need to avoid tickets and accidents. Also, contact your local DMV and review your driving record to confirm its accuracy.

It is not uncommon for citations or accidents to be erroneously included in government records. If you are a victim of DMV errors, contact their office to have the information removed from your driving record and update your insurance company.

How far back do insurance companies look for accidents?

Your driving history is the critical factor used by insurance companies to determine your insurance rates. Most insurance companies review your last five years of driving records, looking for traffic violations, accidents, and vehicular crimes, like DUI. Expect higher rates if you have had speeding tickets, reckless-driving convictions, and accidents.

How much does insurance go up after an accident?

At-fault insurance claims will raise your insurance rate. How high is goes depends on the amount of damage, and if a bodily injury claim is involved. The average rate increase across the United States for an at-fault accident with over $2,000 in property damage is $450 per year or an average increase of 31 percent.

This average was calculated using a first-time at-fault claim. If you have had multiple prior applications or have moving violation tickets, the increase will likely be higher.

To determine the amount of increase, insurance companies use a surcharge schedule. Some states place limits on what can be surcharged and regulate the surcharge schedule.

Can I cancel my car insurance after an accident?

Yes, you can cancel your insurance after an accident, and in some instances, it is a prudent decision. If your car is repairable after the accident, you shouldn’t continue to pay insurance.

Before canceling your insurance, contact your states’ Department of Motor Vehicle to ensure you are following the proper procedures. You can be fined in some states for not have insurance on a vehicle registered in your name.

What happens if I don’t tell my insurance company about an accident?

Not reporting an accident to your insurance company could result in their refusal to cover the damages you discover later. In some states, you have a legal duty to report all accidents to your insurer.

You may also have a contractual obligation with your insurer to report all accidents, and failure to abide by the terms in the contract could result in the termination of your insurance policy.

It is best to report all accidents to your insurance company as soon as you can. Some accidents may seem minor at the time but later reveal serious severe damage. It is best to have a record of the accident than to be stuck with losses.

Do I Have to Talk to the Other Driver’s Car Insurance Company After an Accident?

No, you are under no obligation to speak to the other driver’s car insurance representative. If you have been involved in a major accident, you could damage your claim by speaking with an insurance adjuster.

The insurance companies are in the business to save money, and they have very well trained people to help them achieve this goal. They know how to converse in a friendly manner to draw out information from the unsuspecting.

If an adjuster calls, the best idea is not to take the call and talk to an attorney. The attorney will notify the insurance company to refrain from contacting you directly and will take control of the situation.

If you elect to speak to the other driver’s insurance representative, be aware that they will record the conversation and could be used against you at a later date. If your claim ends up in litigation, the recorded interview can be used during your cross-examination.

If you were involved in a severe accident or liability is an issue, don’t talk to the other driver’s insurance company. However, if the accident was minor and the other drivers’ responsibility is established, you may want to speak to the adjuster to get the matter settled fast.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, call our office, The Law Offices of Sonja Bradley, to speak to an experienced attorney. We have offices in Hammond and Livingston Louisiana.

Sonja Bradley J.D., Sonja received her undergraduate degree from Southeastern Louisiana University and a Juris Doctorate from Loyola University School of Law. Sonja is a member of the Louisiana State Bar Association and the 21st JDC Bar Association. She has 21 years of legal experience.