Insurance Rates

How Accidents Total Insurance Rates

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Getting into a car accident can be a scary and frustrating experience. Depending on the nature of the accident, a car accident could also negatively impact your car insurance. Here are the factors that determine how a car accident could affect your car insurance rates:

If the accident is not your fault: If you are not at fault for the car accident, your insurance rates will likely not be affected. Regardless of whether or not you think you’re at fault for an accident, be sure to collect the insurance and contact information of the other driver involved and contact the appropriate authorities. It’s important to allow the police or other enforcement at the scene to formally determine who is at fault, especially if there is a disagreement between you and the other driver.

If the accident is both your fault and the other driver’s fault: Insurance companies will need to know how to divide the risk and the fault between all drivers involved; again, this is another instance where it is important to get an authority to document the accident. Insurance companies will assign levels of fault to each driver, which could determine how much or how little your insurance rates are impacted.

If the accident is entirely your fault: If you are determined to be the driver that caused the accident, you will likely see your premium increase when it’s time to renew your auto insurance. The amount that your insurance premium increases will depend on the situation and the severity of the accident. However, if your car insurance has an “accident forgiveness” policy, your insurance company may overlook this accident and not raise your premium. Be sure to check your policy to determine whether or not you have an accident forgiveness policy or how your insurance company judges the severity of a car accident.

Here are a few other considerations to keep in mind before filing an insurance claim:

  • If you’ve had a car accident in the last three years, filing another insurance claim could significantly increase your insurance premium.
  • If you can afford to pay for the damages out of pocket or the insurance deductible is more than the amount it would take to repair, it might not be worth filing an insurance claim. Similarly if the car accident is minor (you’re uninjured and the damage to the car is minor), you may want to think twice about reporting your accident.

About Stephanie Halligan

Stephanie is the founder of The Empowered Dollar, a site dedicated to helping millennials to fix their finances and find their stride in money and life. When she's not blogging, Stephanie is designing school curricula and online games to teach students about smart money management.

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