Car insurance can prove costly, especially if you carry more than minimum auto insurance. Getting into an accident may make that number climb even higher.
Just how much do you already pay for car insurance? If you get into an accident, you may worry that your monthly payment will climb even higher. Many accident victims ask, “How much does car insurance go up after an accident?” That number may depend on various factors, including what insurance company you use for your insurance.
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.
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.
Average Car Insurance Increases After an Accident
After an accident, the nationwide average rate increase for car insurance hovers around 45 percent for an accident involving only property damage and around 47 percent for an accident that involves any injury, according to a recent report by Forbes.
What Impacts the Insurance Increase After a Car Accident?
You got into an accident. You know your insurance rates have the potential to go up based on your policy and your insurance company’s expectations. What might impact how much your insurance will increase after an accident?
Who Caused the Accident
Regarding insurance rate increases, liability can greatly impact how much you will see your rates go up. If someone else caused the accident, you will likely not see an insurance rate increase. On the other hand, if your negligence caused or contributed to your car accident, you may notice your insurance rates climbing.
Depending on your insurance company, you may not see an increase in your insurance rates even if you had to use your own uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage to cover the damages associated with an accident caused by another driver.
However, make sure you carefully check your policy and talk to your insurance agent, or go over the policy with a lawyer, to determine whether you may see rate increases if you get into an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver. Nationwide, around 12.6 percent of motorists do not carry auto insurance at all, despite laws in every state that mandate liability insurance on your vehicle.
Even more, drivers may carry only minimum insurance for their state, which may mean that you have to use your underinsured motorist policy to cover the damages that the liable driver’s insurance policy does not cover.
The Damages Involved in the Accident
The damages involved in the accident may significantly impact how much your rates increase following the accident. Some insurance companies will have a policy that does not increase your insurance rates for an accident involving only minor property damages.
Others might not increase your policy costs as much if you cause relatively minor damage in an accident but may increase it significantly more if you cause a devastating accident with severe property damage or significant injury. Insurance policies, in general, also increase more if you have an accident involving any injury.
The Cause of the Accident
Sometimes, insurance companies may take a look at the cause of the accident when reevaluating the cost of your policy following an auto accident. Suppose, for example, that you get into an accident due to a momentary distraction: a child screaming in the back seat, for example.
Your insurance company might give more leniency to your policy for that relatively minor cause than for a deliberate choice to engage in dangerous behavior on the road, including reckless driving. Driving while intoxicated and causing an accident may further increase your insurance rates or, in some cases, make it difficult, if not impossible, for you to get an insurance policy that will cover those damages.
Your Driving Record
Your insurance company may look closely at your driving record and accident history to determine how much to increase your rates after an accident. If you have a clean driving history, complete with few or no tickets and only rare accidents, you may find that your rates increase much less than someone with a driving history filled with accidents or who receives tickets regularly. Insurance companies frequently base their rates on how much risk they feel a driver poses. A driver with a clean driving record with a single slip will look like a much smaller risk than a driver who regularly engages in dangerous behavior behind the wheel.
Your insurance company may also look at how long you have held a policy with that specific company.
Your Insurance Company
Often, insurance companies will have their own complex internal policies regarding how much rates will increase in the event of a car accident. Some insurance companies immediately send rates skyrocketing after an accident. Others, after a single accident, may allow some grace or leeway, which may mean that you do not see the same extreme increase in your rates.
Consult your personal insurance policy or agent to get a better idea of what your rates might look like after an accident. You may also want to discuss what other policies you have with your insurer. For example, if you insure multiple vehicles, you may find that your rates increase less or that you may spread the increase over multiple vehicles or areas.
In some states, insurance may increase more after an accident than in others. Some states already have much higher overall car insurance costs than others. Not only that, in some states, an auto accident may mean more extreme costs, which may mean higher costs passed on to you by the insurance company.
California, in general, sees the highest rate increase for an accident involving injury, at 97 percent, according to the Forbes report. Texas residents see around the same rate increase for accidents involving injury and accidents involving property damage, at 54 percent. Understanding your state’s laws and requirements around insurance increases may make it easier to determine what type of rate increases you might face following a car accident.
Managing Your Car Insurance Costs After an Accident
Okay, you got into an accident. You know that you may face insurance increases, and you find yourself as prepared as you can for that eventuality. However, before you resign yourself to insurance rate increases, you may want to take several steps to decrease those increases.
Ask about your insurance provider’s policies.
Before worrying about insurance rate increases related to a car accident, ensure you have a solid understanding of your insurance provider’s policies. Do you have an accident forgiveness option? Can your insurance company work with you to decrease your overall insurance costs, even after an accident? Your insurance provider may want to work with you to keep you, especially if you have previously worked extensively with that provider.
Discuss your options with your insurance provider.
Sometimes, you can change your coverage after an accident to decrease the costs associated with insurance rate increases after an at-fault accident. For example, you may decide, especially if you end up with a lower-cost vehicle after the accident, that you do not need to carry comprehensive car insurance or that you want to remove some of the riders on your policy.
Your insurance agent can help you go over the specifics of your policy and give you a better overall idea of how much you can change your policy and how much it will impact your costs. You may also increase your deductible or decrease the coverage offered by your policy to make it easier to cover the costs associated with your accident. However, keep in mind that changing your coverage may also change your costs in the event of an accident, so you should carefully consider your future needs before changing your insurance coverage.
Just like you might shop around when you get your car insurance policy in the first place, after an accident, you may want to shop around. Some insurance companies will place less weight on the accident than others. Others may have lower overall premiums.
Make sure, as you shop around, that you compare apples to apples: only compare a full-coverage policy that offers coverage for all types of accidents to a policy that only covers liability coverage, for example. Check all the riders on the policy and ensure you understand everything they offer so that you do not inadvertently choose a policy that does not fit your needs.
Look into insurance discounts.
Many insurance providers will offer discounts for various things related to your driving behavior. Some might lift some of your insurance costs if you take a class designed to help with safe or defensive driving. Others may lower your costs if you install an app to track your driving behavior, offering you lower costs for safe driving decisions. Your insurance agent can let you know what discounts your company offers and how you can get them for your auto insurance after an accident.
Clearly establish liability for the accident.
Insurance companies can sometimes make it very difficult to clearly establish liability for an accident. You could find yourself bearing liability for an accident you did not cause or using your insurance policy to cover damages caused by another driver’s negligent behavior. Talk to an attorney if you need help establishing who caused your accident.
An attorney can help collect evidence related to your car accident and make it much easier for you to lay out liability for the accident. By establishing that the other party caused your accident, you may decrease the insurance increases associated with the accident.
Check your vehicle.
If you carry comprehensive or collision coverage on your vehicle, you carry enough coverage to repair or replace your vehicle after an accident. A high-value vehicle can mean expensive insurance premiums, especially after an accident. If you decrease the value of your vehicle, including purchasing an older-model vehicle, you may find that your insurance costs drop accordingly.
Did you have to replace your vehicle because of your accident? If so, keep your insurance premiums in mind when you purchase the replacement. Immediately after an accident, you may find it much more practical to purchase a lower-value vehicle that will not cost as much to insure.
Revisit your insurance costs as time passes.
After the accident, do your best to keep your driving record as clean as possible. Avoid tickets. Drive the speed limit. Do what you can to reduce future accident potential. Your insurance company may not automatically lower your rates as time passes after your accident. However, if you call in and discuss those rates with your insurance company several months or years after the accident, you may find that those rates have come down.
Talk to your insurance provider about the timeline for insurance rate decreases after your accident, and make sure you have a good idea of when you should expect to see rate decreases. Take advantage of obvious promotional offers or deals offered by your insurance company. Over time, you can significantly lower your rates.
Dealing with the aftermath of an accident can prove incredibly complicated. By working with a personal injury lawyer, you can get a better feel for what you can expect to happen after your accident, from how you can establish exactly who caused the accident to what you may need to keep in mind when dealing with the insurance company.
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.