Please be advised that the following topic is for informational purposes only and not a legal matter currently handled by our firm. If you need further assistance regarding this particular topic, you can contact your local Bar Association for a referral to an attorney who may be able to address your inquiry in more detail.
One of the biggest concerns for many drivers in California is car insurance premium increases after an accident. When a person is at fault, it is understandable that the consequences would involve an increase in their insurance rate. But what if the driver is not at fault?
At Sally Morin, as California car accident lawyers, our clients often ask us, “How much will my insurance go up after an accident?” or “Will my premiums go up if I was not at fault?” So we decided to answer these questions and a few more by putting together this list of frequently asked questions regarding insurance rates and car accidents.
How much does car insurance increase after an accident?
On average, car insurance policy rates do increase by around 46% when a driver is involved in an accident that causes an injury. However, the exact rate increase can vary based on numerous factors. Each state, for example, has its own average for rate increases. In California, the average dollar increase is $585, and the average percent increase is 69%.
Insurance rate increases after an accident can also differ depending on the insurance company the policy is with, who was at fault, driver history, driver experience, and miles driven. So if you’re wondering, “how much does car insurance go up after the first accident,” it will depend on your specific insurer.
Some insurance companies offer safe-driving programs and accident forgiveness that will result in rate increases being waived or reduced if you are a good driver on average. However, if you are frequently involved in accidents, it is more likely that your insurance rates will spike significantly.
When you file a claim, your claims adjuster will also conduct a car insurance inspection after the accident. This will give them a better idea of the damage involved, which could impact your insurance premiums.
Will my car insurance premium increase after a no-fault accident?
Again, car insurance premium increases after at-fault accidents go up 46% on average and potentially even more than that in California. Rate increases will go up even more if there are injuries and property damage.
If you are not at fault, however, the rate increase is less severe. On average, drivers who are not at fault will only have their rates go up by about 4%. But in California, there are laws against raising rates on drivers who were not “principally at fault.”
So, as a California driver, so long as you are not at fault, your rates should not increase after an accident. Keep in mind, however, that California operates under a comparative negligence system, which means it is possible for you to share some of the liability for causing the accident. This means your rates could go up, even if you only share a small percentage of fault.
When does car insurance go down after an accident?
There is no set timeframe for when insurance rates go back down after an accident. But the general rule of thumb is that the longer it has been since you were involved in an accident and filed a claim, the lower your rates will be.
Rates typically go up immediately after a crash and will return to normal within three to five years. But again, this only applies if you file no other claims during that time. If you do file another claim or are involved in another accident, it will take longer for your rates to go back down, and you will likely face more increases.
Luckily, there are tips and tricks for drivers who are interested in lowering their rates. These are not foolproof, as, again, numerous individual factors can affect your policy rate. Still, on average, these can help.
How to lower car insurance after an accident:
- Shop around for better rates. No two insurers are the same. So if you are wondering how to claim insurance after an accident or how to get lower rates, the key is to do your research and look into different insurance companies.
- Adjust your deductible. A lower deductible comes with its risks because it means you will have higher out-of-pocket expenses if something happens. But, it will at least lower your premiums.
- Lower your coverage. Similar to lowering your deductible, if you lower your primary coverage amounts, this will also lower your premiums. Just make sure you abide by your state’s minimum coverage requirements.
- Raise your credit score. Some insurance companies will reward policyholders with lower premiums when they have good credit. This will not work with every insurer, but it is a potential option.
Can I cancel my car insurance after an accident?
The simple answer to this question is yes, you can cancel your insurance policy at any time. However, this can put you in a worse spot than having your premiums increase. Car insurance is meant to help you cover things like property damage, car damage, bodily injury, etc. So if you cancel your policy to avoid premium spikes, you won’t have coverage for these things if you need it.
Also, California drivers are required to carry insurance coverage. So if you cancel your policy without having another ready to take its place, you could face being fined if you are caught without insurance.
Can I sue my car insurance company after an accident?
Suing insurance after a car accident is possible, but you have to have just cause. You cannot, for example, sue your insurance company simply because you think it is unfair that they raised your premiums a significant amount. However, if your insurer is doing something unlawful, such as raising your rates when they are not allowed to do so or because of discrimination, then you could have probable cause for a lawsuit.
Questions To Ask an Insurance Adjuster After an Accident
If you have questions about insurance after a car accident, you can speak to a car accident attorney or your insurance adjuster. Just make sure not to admit fault when talking to the insurance company, as they could use it against you.
Pertinent questions to ask could include:
- Will you raise my rates?
- How much will my rates increase after an accident?
- Do you have a safe-driving program that could reduce my rates?
- How does my claim get paid?
- Will you give me copies of the documents involved or “index” information concerning my claim so I can verify my rate?
We Handle Your Accident Claim So You Can Focus On Your Life
If you have questions or concerns about your car accident claim and insurance rates, the accident attorneys at Sally Morin can assist you. We understand how frustrating it can be to have your premiums go up after an accident. If you suspect your insurer is unlawfully raising your rates or denying your claim, we can protect your rights.
We truly care about the people of California. Call us at 877-380-8852 or contact us online today for a free case evaluation.