If you at fault for an auto accident, you can expect some type of increase to your insurance rates. The specific increase in rates will vary, depending on the details of the accident and your driving record.
How Does an At Fault Accident Affect Insurance?
If you’re involved in an accident in which you are at fault, then you can usually expect your insurance rates to go up. The specific amount will vary, depending on factors like the percentage that you were considered at fault for, and whether you have any previous accidents on your record. Additionally, other factors are considered in your rates, including your age, credit score, and location.
At-fault accidents are one of the claims that you can make that will increase your rates the most. The specific factors involved in the accident will determine how much your rates increase. Here are a few situations:
- Drunk driving: If drunk driving is involved in the accident, this will likely lead to the highest increases in your insurance rates. The insurance company may increase the rates or drop the person from their policy altogether.
- An accident in which you injure someone: While an at-fault accident increases your rates, you can expect them to increase your premium even further if you injure someone in the accident.
- An accident that totals a vehicle: If an at-fault accident leads to a totaled vehicle, this will also lead to higher rates.
- Uninsured driver: If there is an accident with an uninsured driver, the policyholder can expect their rates to increase because the insurance company has to pay more compensation.
According to Bankrate, if you are responsible for a car accident and it leads to injuries, you could expect—on average—an increase of $1,157 per year, or a forty six percent increase, in rates. ValuePenguin states that an at-fault accident can stay on your record for years. The minimum number of years you can expect an accident to affect your rates is three, but that number can be as high as five, and in some cases, even longer.
What Happens If You’re Not At-Fault?
In most cases, if you’re not at fault for an accident, your rates will not increase. However, this may vary from provider to provider. Even if they do raise your rates, it will usually not be as much as if you were at fault for the accident. There may sometimes be disputes as to who is at fault and some states even allow more than one driver to be at fault when an accident occurs. The process of determining who is at fault will vary from state to state.
If your insurance provider increases your rates following an accident in which you are not at fault, you might consider changing insurance providers. Another provider may offer you a better insurance rate.
When to File a Claim Following an Accident
Some drivers may consider not filing a claim following an accident to avoid an increase in rates. In order to take advantage of any benefits available through your insurance company, you will need to file a claim.
However, if the total of damages is less than your deductible amount, then you might consider not filing an insurance claim. It is important to understand any requirements set by your insurance company. Some providers do require that you file a claim, regardless of the amount of damages. Failing to do so could void your policy, making it difficult to get insurance anywhere else.
What Is Accident Forgiveness?
Some car insurance companies have an accident forgiveness program. This means that they will forgive your first accident, even if you’re at fault. Not all insurance companies offer this perk and even for those that do, they may require that you pay extra for it or earn admittance into the program by going a specified number of years accident-free. Bankrate lists the following insurance providers as having some form of an accident forgiveness program:
- State Farm
- The Hartford
Keep in mind with USAA, while they tend to offer good rates and benefits, it is only available to active military members and their families.
It is always a good idea to ask your current provider if they offer this program and if you qualify. This program can save you a lot of money in rate increases if you’re in an accident.
How to Get the Best Insurance Rates After an At-Fault Accident
An at-fault auto accident on your record can significantly increase your rates. You may be able to find other ways to hedge against the increase in rates following an at-fault accident:
- Add discounts to policy: Find out if you’re eligible for any insurance discounts that you are not currently receiving. Available discounts might include good student, multi-policy, or multi-vehicle.
- Reduce your insurance coverage: Reducing your coverage can also affect your insurance rates. You will still need to ensure that you have the minimum coverage required by your state.
- Increase your deductible: Increasing your deductible can lead to decreased rates. The deductible refers to the amount of money you will have to pay out-of-pocket before your insurance company will cover any damages.
- Improve your credit score: Working on your credit can also get you a better rate. Paying down debts and making on-time payments can qualify you for discounts.
Shopping around is also an important part of finding the best rates. Even if you have had an at-fault accident, you may be able to find a different insurance provider who offers better rates. This is because insurance companies weigh factors differently, including at-fault accidents. One may increase your rates significantly whereas another company only slightly increases your insurance costs.
Having an at-fault accident on your record can make it difficult to find affordable insurance rates. However, by taking advantage of accident forgiveness programs and shopping around for the best insurance rates, you can find an affordable policy even with an at-fault accident on your record.
Check this out if you need additional information, resources, or guidance on car insurance.
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