How accidents can affect your rate

car-accidentEven really good drivers can have a poor experience on the road. Whether you go flying over a speed bump or collide with another vehicle, accidents, by definition, are never on purpose. But just because you didn’t mean to do something, doesn’t mean you aren’t responsible for it. And in some circumstances, your insurance premiums can go up as a result of a collision.

 

 

There is always someone at fault

Even if there was nothing you could have done to prevent an accident, in the eyes of insurance companies, there is always someone at fault in a car accident.

If you were the sole driver – that is, the other vehicle wasn’t moving or there was no one in it at the time of the collision – you are automatically at fault once you file a claim with your insurance company.

If you were in a collision with another driver, then determining who was at fault can be tricky. If the police are involved, they will likely use the regional rules of the road to figure this out. Sometimes, however, the decision is cut and dry. You’re at fault if you:

  • Rear-end someone
  • Make a lane change and sideswipe someone in your blind spot

Occasionally, it may take time and further investigation by the police or insurer to determine who ultimately caused the accident.

In addition, so-called “acts of God”, or accidents caused by extreme weather, are still considered at-fault.

In any case, being at-fault in an accident can be grounds for an increase in your auto insurance premiums.

When you’re at fault

An at-fault accident on your record stays with you for 6 to 10 years. Since your auto insurance premiums may be affected, you could be paying for that accident for years to come until it is off your record and your rate decreases.

Accident forgiveness

As of June 1, 2016, insurers can no longer use a minor at-fault accident, meeting certain criteria, to increase your premiums. Said criteria include that no payment has been made by any insurer, there are no injuries, and damages to each car and other property were less than $2,000 per car and were paid by the at-fault driver. This provision is limited to a single minor accident every three years.

If you have a second accident though, prepare to pay a price.

How your insurance company can help

Despite an accident causing an increase in your insurance premiums, your insurance company will work with you to help keep your premiums manageable. Ask about discounts you may be eligible for and tips on reducing your premiums.