By Serious Injury Law Group

In Traffic Accident Articles

Being involved in a car accident can have many serious consequences, including injuries, damage to your vehicle, and time missed from work. If you were responsible for the crash, you could also face another issue: rising insurance premiums.

Insurance companies take many factors into consideration before raising your rate. Among them are the seriousness of the accident, your driving history, and who was to blame. If the accident was caused by someone else, your payments shouldn’t increase. Even if you have an impeccable driving history, however, one claim for an accident that was your fault could create a serious increase in your bill.

A joint study performed by Insurance Quotes and Quadrant Information Services found that making just one claim could raise a driver’s rates by 41 percent, a significant hike. The average U.S. auto insurance payment is $815 per year. That 41 percent increase means that an average annual payment would rise by about $335. If you made a second claim in that year, rates could increase by 93 percent, almost doubling.

For How Long Will My Rate Be Higher?

The good news is that the increase in liability insurance premiums after an accident is usually temporary. Typically, it will last three to five years. Still, that’s a lengthy period to be paying an extra 41 percent, and it could make a sizable dent in anyone’s finances.

Which Claims Increase Your Rates the Most?

Bodily injury claims, in which one or more people are harmed, constitute the most serious claims and cause the highest spike in rates. Virtually every state requires drivers to purchase bodily injury coverage. An accident involving bodily injury gives extra weight to an insurance company’s assessment of a motorist as a risky driver.

Accidents in which property damage was involved can also cause your rate to rise, but not as significantly. Comprehensive auto claims (coverage that reimburses for any damage done to the car unrelated to a collision, such as weather damage or theft) cause the lowest increases overall. The average premium increase nationally after a comprehensive claim was just 2 percent.

How a Car Accident Affects Your Insurance Rate

Once you’ve been involved in one accident, your insurance company will probably consider you a risky driver. Whether correct or not, an insurer is betting on the likelihood that, if you’ve been in one collision, you’ll get in another. If you are involved in a second accident, another significant rate hike will usually be on the horizon. As suggested by the study, your rate could almost double.

The increase in premiums also varies from state to state, depending on the factors insurance companies use to set rates in those states. Insurers in some states consider driving history, total number of miles driven, and experience.

Because so few factors are taken into consideration in some states, a change that affects a clean driving record can make a huge difference to your premiums. In states where insurance companies calculate payment based on additional factors, such as age or marital status, rates are unlikely to rise so dramatically.

According to Insure.com, the average annual car insurance rate for most Alabama drivers is $1,217. The average annual rate for a driver after one at-fault bodily injury accident is $1,482. That means that drivers who caused a bodily injury accident saw a rate increase of 22 percent.

What You Need to Know About Filing an Auto Insurance Claim

Filing a claim can be complicated, and if you were hurt in the accident, you are usually best served by letting a personal injury lawyer handle the technicalities. Remember, though, that your premiums should only increase if you are to blame for the accident. If someone else is at fault, their insurance should handle the claim.

If you are at fault, however, your insurance company will likely pay the other party’s damages.

After any accident, you should always:

Call 911. The responding officers will investigate the crash and may make a determination of who was at fault.

Exchange information with the other driver. Get the driver’s name, contact information, and insurance information. Do not discuss the accident with the other driver, though, and never apologize or speculate about who was at fault.

Get medical help. If you were injured, be sure to seek medical treatment as soon as possible. Follow all your doctor’s orders.

Save any evidence. This includes photos you took at the scene, as well as the names and contact information for any witnesses.

Check your insurance. Your insurance policy most likely requires you to report any accident to the carrier promptly. You do not have to talk to the other driver’s insurance, though. And you should not give a written or recorded statement without speaking to an attorney.

Consult with a lawyer. The best thing to do is to schedule a free consultation with a personal injury attorney who is experienced in handling auto accident claims. Let your legal counsel manage all the interactions with insurers.

If you have been hurt in an accident that was not your fault, do not allow an insurance company to dictate what happens next. A skilled personal injury attorney can collect evidence such as the police report, eyewitness statements, and other key documents to help prove fault. Your attorney will also obtain the medical, employment, and other records that you need as proof of monetary damages. Then, your attorney will work to obtain the full amount of compensation you need to recover.

If you decide to pursue a personal injury claim after a crash, it’s unlikely that such a claim will affect your premium, unless it is deemed that you were partially at fault in the accident.

Contact Serious Injury Law Group

If you have been injured in a crash, contact the Birmingham accident lawyers at Serious Injury Law Group as soon as possible. Our attorneys will do everything we can to protect your right to full compensation, especially if liability for the crash is disputed.

Contact us now to schedule a free consultation, and get answers to all your questions about dealing with the insurance company after an accident.