After a car accident, it’s not uncommon for car insurance rates to go up, which can add to the already stressful situation. However, if you’re concerned about the amount of the increase. A car accident attorney can help you navigate the insurance claims process and negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf to potentially reduce the impact on your rates. They can also help you understand your legal options if the accident resulted in significant damage or injury.
How much your car insurance will go up after an accident varies depending on:
- How the car accident happened
- How bad the accident was
- Your complete driving history
- Who provides your car insurance
- Where the car accident happened
- The results of the insurance company’s investigation
How did the Car Accident happen?
Some accidents really are just that: accidents. If a driver was not at fault, their insurance rate should not go up. However, if a driver causes an accident by behaving negligently or recklessly, their rate may increase as soon as their insurer determines their liability.
The more careless drivers are, the more their insurance may increase after an accident.
- Person A was lawfully driving through an intersection when another car ran a red light and hit them from the side.
- Person B checked their text messages while driving slowly. They rear-ended a driver who had stopped at a stop sign in front of them.
- Person C drove drunk and was going well over the speed limit when they hit a pedestrian.
Each of these drivers will likely see a different impact on their insurance rate because:
- Person A did not cause the accident and did nothing wrong, so their rate should not increase.
- Person B caused the accident by behaving carelessly, so their rate may increase, even though they did relatively little damage.
- Person C caused the accident by behaving very recklessly and without regard for human life, so their rate will likely increase significantly.
How Bad the Accident Was
After an accident, the survivors may file claims with the insurer of the driver who caused the accident and/or their own insurer.
By doing so, they seek reimbursement for:
- Medical expenses they have already incurred, such as an ambulance ride, hospitalization, or surgery
- Medical expenses they may have to incur in the future, such as follow-up visits, rehabilitation, or ongoing care
- Property damage, or the cost of repairing or replacing their damaged vehicle
The worse an accident is, the more the insurer has to pay out—and the more your rate could increase.
In addition, insurance companies automatically consider accidents that are property damage only (PDO) to be less devastating than accidents involving injuries or fatalities. Therefore, car insurance rates tend to go up more after an injury accident than a PDO accident.
Your Complete Driving History
When determining your insurance rate, your insurer should not only take the recent accident into account but also your past driving behaviors.
As a general rule, insurance companies charge less if you:
- Have never caused an accident
- Have never been in an accident or have only been in a small number of accidents where you were not at fault
- Do not regularly receive tickets for speeding, failing to wear a seatbelt, or other infractions
- Have not been charged and/or convicted of any vehicular crime such as drunk driving car accident or vehicular manslaughter
If you frequently break the rules of the road, you could end up paying more for insurance—even if you never cause an accident.
For example, these risky driving behaviors could increase your insurance rate:
- Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Driving while fatigued
- Driving while distracted by your phone or other electronics
- Driving too fast for road conditions, regardless of whether you exceeded the posted speed limit or not
If you have already caused an accident within the past few years, your insurance rate may increase more than someone who causes an accident for the first time after many years of safe driving.
Who Provides Your Car Insurance
Every car insurance company has their own policies regarding rate increases. You can check your insurer’s website or contact your insurance agent for information on how, when, and by how much their car insurance rates go up after an accident.
If your insurer’s responses to your inquiries are unhelpful, consider contacting a car accident attorney to assist you instead.
Where the Accident Happened
Just as each insurer has its own car insurance rates, each state has its own laws pertaining to:
- Who must buy insurance and under what circumstances
- The minimum amount of insurance a driver must purchase
- Penalties for not complying with state insurance laws
- How much insurance companies can charge for insurance
In other words, causing an accident is more costly in some states than others.
You could face additional penalties and financial costs if you cause an accident while not carrying the proper amount of insurance. To find out how much insurance your state requires, do a quick internet search for “[state] car insurance laws.”
Then, if you do not have sufficient insurance, you should take steps to purchase what you need right away.
Insurance Requirements Vary by State
Some common types of state-mandated car insurance include policies that cover:
- Damage to your own car
- Damage to someone else’s car
- Personal injury you sustain
- Injury you cause to someone else
You can purchase more than the minimum coverage dictated by law. You can also choose to invest in non-mandatory policies that cover damage caused by something other than an accident, towing charges, and so on.
The Results of the Insurance Company’s Investigation
After an accident, your insurer will want to know what happened.
They may have an insurance adjuster contact you to:
- Interview you about the accident
- Set up a time when they can come to examine your car themselves
- Ask you to send any pertinent materials, such as photos of your damaged car, medical bills, and other receipts
If anyone else was involved in the accident their insurer will launch their own investigation. They, too, will want to ask you about what happened.
After speaking to the insurer, you may have to wait while they:
- Get in touch with other involved parties
- Collect evidence from other sources
- Analyze all the evidence
- Render a decision about who is liable, how much money to pay out, and whether or not they should raise your rate
You May Not Agree With the Insurance Company
The insurance company’s conclusions about the accident may differ greatly from reality or from your own memories of the event.
This can happen for several reasons, such as:
- They make an honest error when interpreting the data
- They try to blame you for the accident so they can increase your rate by a larger amount
- They do not conduct a thorough investigation and miss critical evidence
What can you do if you disagree with the insurance company’s assessment or rate increase? A car accident attorney can tell you more about your legal rights and options.
Why Does Car Insurance Increase After an Accident?
Insurance companies set their rates based on the perceived risk posed by the driver. Keep in mind that every insurer’s main goal is to make money: drivers who cause accidents cost the insurer more in claims, so the insurer charges them higher rates to recoup their anticipated losses.
How Long Do Insurance Increases Last?
Depending on various circumstances, your car insurance increase could last for several years—meaning thousands of additional dollars out of your pocket.
If you spend the years after the accident driving safely, your rate may decrease to what they were before. But if you cause another accident too soon after the previous one, your rate may increase accordingly.
How Much Do Car Accidents Cost?
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), Americans in every state lose anywhere from hundreds of millions to billions of dollars in car accidents every year.
These monetary losses come from:
- The cost of repairing their damaged car and being unable to use the car until the car is fixed after an accident or replaced
- Having to stay home from work and not earn a salary until their injuries heal
- Having to sacrifice a career or give up a promotion because their injuries prevent them from fulfilling their job duties
- The cost of short-term and long-term medical care
Insurance may cover some of these losses, particularly those related to property damage and medical expenses. If you suffer losses not covered by your insurance policy, you can consider filing a lawsuit against the liable party.
Dealing With Car Insurance After an Accident
If you suffered injuries in a car accident, consider hiring an attorney as soon as possible.
This is especially important if:
- You plan on taking legal action against the liable party
- The liable party might try to blame you for the accident
- You have already received information requests or settlement offers from the liable party’s insurance company
By talking to the insurance company on your own, you may accidentally say or do something to convince them that you caused the accident.
You can protect yourself by:
- Finding an attorney who has handled car accident cases before
- Telling the insurer to contact your lawyer instead of you from now on
- Letting your lawyer speak to the insurer on your behalf
- Alerting your lawyer if the insurer tries to contact you directly
- Working with your attorney to decide how to respond to the insurer’s offers, requests, and other communications
While insurance companies have an obligation to investigate every accident, you have a right to protect yourself. This includes your right to preserve your financial future by preventing rate hikes and pursuing financial compensation from the liable party’s insurance company.
Fighting Car Insurance Increases After an Accident
A car accident attorney can take any or all of the following actions to protect you after a collision:
- Contacting the insurer to let them know you disagree with their conclusion and their rate increase
- Collecting and presenting evidence to show the insurer came to a faulty conclusion and the rate increase is not justified
- Meeting with insurance company representatives to discuss the case
As your car accident lawyer handles your case, you should have plenty of opportunities to receive updates and ask questions about your case’s progress.
A good Atlanta personal injury law firm will encourage clients to:
- Contact them anytime with questions or concerns
- Speak with them regularly about what is happening and how to proceed
- Be open and honest about what happened and how the accident has affected them
Proving You Did Not Cause the Car Accident
Even before you leave the scene of the accident, you can collect evidence that may show you did not cause the crash.
- Getting the other driver’s name, contact information, and insurance information
- Getting the names and phone numbers of any witnesses to the crash
- Taking photos of your injuries, the damage to your car, and the accident scene as a whole
Not everyone realizes they have this opportunity or takes advantage of it, and that’s okay.
A car accident lawyer can still take your case and investigate the crash by gathering evidence, such as:
- The police report
- Testimony from medical experts and/or accident scene reconstructionists
- Testimony from all involved parties, including witnesses
- Your driving record
- The other driver’s driving record
- Any evidence the insurance company has collected in your case
If your attorney can prove the rate increase was unjustified, your insurer may lower your rate to its previous level and reimburse you for the extra money you have already paid.
Your lawyer can also use this evidence if you decide to sue the liable party for additional compensation, such as pain and suffering, medical expenses not covered by your insurer, loss of wages, and more.
You Could Work With a Car Accident Lawyer to Find out How Much Your Insurance Will Go up After an Accident
Most personal injury law firms in Atlanta offer free consultations to anyone who wants to discuss their car accident case and learn more about their legal options
Working with a car accident attorney can help you get the financial payout and fair car insurance rates you deserve.