Can you name which states have the highest auto insurance?
According to Insure.com, the top five states, in order, are Michigan, Louisiana, Florida, Texas, and California.
Insurance rates and driver safety go hand-in-hand, so it’s no surprise that these five states also have some of the worst numbers when it comes to accidents, pedestrian deaths, and fatal car crashes.
Over the years, insurance companies have made it clear to consumers that their rates will go up if they file claims. So naturally, many drivers are hesitant to make an insurance claim after an accident. But is this really true? Just how much will your rates go up after an accident?
A Simple Breakdown of Your Insurance Policy
How much do you really know about your insurance policy, besides how much you pay every month? Do you know what your policy covers? Your deductible? What about which events will actually cause your insurance to go up? Let’s break it down:
Hail damage? Car break-in? Pot-hole damage? This all falls under your comprehensive insurance. Comprehensive policies cover any loss that is not related to a collision (including theft).
If you file a claim through your comprehensive insurance, your insurance company may or may not raise your rates. Since these types of claims don’t involve another party, it’s usually more affordable to pay for the repairs out-of-pocket than to take the hit on your insurance.
Bodily Injury Liability
Bodily injury protection (BI) covers the other driver and their passengers if you’re found at fault in an accident.
All states have some sort of law regarding how much insurance drivers need to carry. This is the insurance you need to worry about when it comes to your rates. If your insurance company has to pay out a bodily injury claim, it will almost surely raise your rates. These claims only happen if the other driver files a claim against your insurance and proves that you are at fault.
The good thing to know is that your insurance company doesn’t want to pay out just as much as you don’t want to see your rates go up. This means that if you are in an accident where there is an issue of fault, your insurance company may take your side to try to prove the other party is liable.
Property Damage Liability
Similar to bodily injury liability, property damage liability only pays out if the other party files a claim against your insurance and you are found to be at fault. While legally you can cover these costs out-of-pocket to avoid an insurance increase, this is not always the best idea. There’s nothing that stops the other driver from making a bodily injury claim or property damage claim even after they’ve cashed your personal check. In this case, you are out the money you paid for repairs and still have to pay a higher premium.
Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage is optional on most policies. This coverage comes into play if you are hit by an uninsured motorist or if the at-fault party’s insurance is not enough to cover your claim. If you use this coverage, your rates should not go up. However, if you make a claim for a hit-and-run collision, and you do not have UI/UM coverage, your insurance company may charge you. To learn more about your coverage options and make informed decisions, make sure you talk to a car accident lawyer before you file a claim.
Will My Rates Go up When I File a Claim?
Still confused? Insurance is tricky, and it’s designed that way for a reason. The less insurance companies have to pay out, the more money they make. Last year, State Farm, the country’s biggest property and casualty insurance company, made $5.9 billion in profits! It’s safe to say they’re not going to help you save money on your rates or receive a payout on your claim.
The most important thing to understand is that your rates should not go up if you are not at fault. After an accident, your insurance company only charges you more if it has to pay more. If you are not at fault, your insurance company will go to the other party’s insurance company to try to get them to pay. This is why you need to hire a car accident lawyer who can establish fault clearly and quickly after an accident.
How Do I Prove the Other Party Was at Fault?
If the other party hit you or pulled out in front of you, that party’s at fault. It should be that straightforward, right?
Not so fast.
After an accident, it’s unlikely that the first thing to cross the other driver’s mind was: “Is the other driver okay?” Instead, it’s often something more along the lines of: “There go my insurance rates.”
According to Insure.com, after just one at-fault accident you can expect your rates to go up 26 to 32%.
Unfortunately, this is enough to cause some drivers to lie. So how do you prove you’re not at fault?
- Pictures: Pictures can show a lot after an accident. They may show where an accident happened, how it happened, and the amount of damage caused by the wreck. After you check to make sure everyone is okay, pull out your phone and start taking pictures. Make sure to get pics of all vehicles, any property damage, and your injuries. Don’t forget to take a picture of the other driver’s license plate. Some people actually lie about even being involved in an accident, so insurance companies are on high alert.
- Witnesses: Witnesses are a great way to prove what happened in an accident, and it’s even better if they were not in the vehicle at the time of the accident. Third-party witnesses have no vested interest in the outcome of the case. That means they’re likely to give reliable and unbiased testimony regarding the accident. Even so, witnesses aren’t perfect, and they may forget important details as time goes by. That’s one of the main reasons it’s important to start a car accident case as soon as possible.
- Physical evidence: Was the other driver on the job? Was the vehicle in need of repairs? How was the other driver’s driving record? This physical evidence may not be present at the scene, but a good attorney can dig it up when fault comes into question. Other items that can help prove fault include the police report, the driver’s medical history, and cell phone records.
- Accident reconstruction: In some cases, it may be necessary to bring in an accident reconstruction expert to determine how the accident likely happened and who is at fault. The expert might evaluate the physical damage to the vehicles, your injuries, and any skid marks or property damage.
What to Do After an Accident
Your actions after an accident are extremely important. What you say and do can make a big difference for your case, and possibly for your insurance rates too.
Things you should do after a car accident include:
- Stay at the scene: Do not leave the scene of an accident. For one, it’s illegal (unless you’re critically injured). Furthermore, once you leave the scene of the accident, it’s your word against the other driver’s, and all evidence is swept away. This is why we strongly recommend staying at the scene of an accident and taking plenty of photos until law enforcement officers indicate that you may leave.
- Exchange insurance information: Get the contact information of all other involved parties. This information is particularly important if you plan to file a third-party claim. At this point, you also need to give the other driver your information. Remember, this does not mean that they will file a claim against you or your insurance, but in most states, you have to hand over your insurance information if the other driver requests it.
- Go to the doctor: If you plan to file a car accident case, you need to establish a medical record as soon as possible. Even if you are not in pain, it’s still a good idea to get checked out. Some serious injuries involve symptoms that don’t present for days or weeks following an accident, so it’s important to have a doctor evaluate you for any hidden injuries.
- Contact an experienced car accident attorney: A car accident attorney can help you pursue a fair settlement after your auto accident, and help you prove your case. While car accident lawyers are not the same as criminal defense lawyers, car accident lawyers can help you prove who’s at fault in your accident and prevent a claim from unjustly affecting your insurance rates.
What Not to Do After an Accident
The insurance company will pounce if you make a mistake, so it’s important to be mindful about every move you make after a car accident. An attorney can be a valuable ally throughout this process, but if you’re on your own right now, here’s a list of things you should not do:
- Don’t talk to the insurance company: The insurance company doesn’t want to pay out your claim. If they can shift the blame onto you or diminish your injuries, they will. Instead, contact an attorney and have them deal with the insurance company on your behalf.
- Don’t post on social media: If you think the insurance company won’t bother to look into your social media accounts, you’re wrong. Insurance companies can get a lot of information about your life just by checking out Facebook. Never talk about your accident on a public platform. Don’t post pictures of yourself engaging in physical activities. Don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know. You should turn your social media accounts to private while your car insurance claim is open.
- Don’t misrepresent your injuries: There will be many times throughout your case when someone asks how you are feeling or the status of your injuries. You need to be honest. If something hurts, don’t hide it, but don’t exaggerate your symptoms either. This ruins your credibility and could potentially destroy your case. We know it seems automatic to respond “fine” when someone asks “how are you?” But this could actually be a sneaky tactic used by insurance adjusters trying to invalidate your suffering.
How to Save Money on Your Insurance
Insurance is expensive, but it’s also not an area you should skimp on. How can you make sure you’re not overpaying for your insurance?
We recommend the following approach:
- Shop around: Different insurance companies may consider different factors. While one company may ding you for that speeding ticket last year, another may only consider traffic accidents when it comes to increasing your rates.
- Re-evaluate your insurance policy annually: Have you noticed that your rates go up every time you renew? If so, you might want to talk to different insurance companies next time before renewing to see if you can get a better deal with someone else.
- Look for a policy with accident forgiveness: Mistakes happen, but if you don’t have accident forgiveness, that one mistake may cost you for several years. Many companies offer accident forgiveness. Check with your current company to evaluate their offerings, and consider switching if it doesn’t have what you’re looking for.
- Weigh your deductible costs: Generally, the lower your deductible, the higher your monthly premiums will be, and vice versa. If you have an older car, it may not make sense to pay higher monthly payments. You also need to consider if you can afford to pay a higher deductible if you do have an accident.
- Analyze your coverage: Take a close look at what you are paying and what your policy provides. Do you really need rental coverage? What about roadside assistance? If you have AAA or a similar service, you don’t need to pay for this service through your insurance policy as well. Little things add up, so you may be paying more than you should.
Protect Yourself After a Car Accident
After a car accident, the last thing you should have to worry about is money.
That’s why it’s so important to have someone by your side that you can trust.
Don’t let the insurance company take advantage of you. If you have questions or need help after a car accident, contact an experienced car accident attorney. They can guide you every step of the way, and fight for the compensation you deserve!
Since starting his firm in 1999, Stewart J. Guss has had the honor of representing clients from all over the world, helping them recover from even the most catastrophic injuries.
Today, thanks to a strong belief in those values of compassion, respect, and approachability, the firm has grown to employ over 120 legal professionals in numerous offices across 4 states, with nationwide reach.