If you’ve been involved in a car accident, you might wonder if calling the police is the right thing for fear that your car insurance will increase. Even when a person wasn’t at fault, they may still fail to report an accident to avoid a jump in insurance premiums.
Not every car accident results in higher insurance rates. While sometimes your car insurance may initially increase, you can take action to reduce it.
Ways a Car Accident Can Affect Insurance
Only a chargeable accident can lead to increased insurance rates. Under California law, an insurer cannot increase your insurance rates if you weren’t at fault for the crash. That means that an insurer would first have to ascertain that you were more than 51 percent at fault for the accident. Usually, this is determined through an investigation and written notice that includes:
- A determination that the insured was principally at fault
- The percentage of fault attached to the insured
- The percentage of fault attached to the other involved drivers
- An explanation of why a particular driver was designated the “at fault” party
- The insured’s right to request a reconsideration
If the insurance company determined that the accident was a chargeable one, then your premium can increase. Usually, the amount is based on several factors.
- Driving history and the number of car accidents experienced
- The years of driving experience
- Number of miles driven each year
Although the dollar amount will vary on the factors listed above, California drivers can see as much as a 78 percent increase after one accident claim. If the driver filed a second claim, the insurance surcharge can almost double with a 98 percent upcharge.
The dollar amount that your insurance increases is referred to as the surcharge. An insurer isn’t allowed to add the surcharge amount in the middle of the policy period. However, the surcharge will begin with each renewal. The surcharge can remain for three to five years while the driver’s history shows no further chargeable accidents.
Accidents That Won’t Increase Rates
Not every accident will cause your insurance rate to go up. Some examples include a damaged car that was legally parked or being struck by another car where the driver fled the scene.
A car insurance company may demand proof that the accident wasn’t your fault. The documentation will vary according to the type of accident. Generally, though, evidence of a police report and statements from the other driver’s insurance company will be considered satisfactory evidence.
Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney
If you have been involved in a car accident, it’s best to consult an attorney. Even if a case doesn’t go to trial, the statements given during a settlement agreement can be used by an insurance company to contribute fault, thereby increasing insurance rates. That means that if you make a written statement that you were “principally at fault,” under California law, an insurer can increase your premiums. Contact our attorneys at 415-737-5886 or at Dan Rose Law to schedule a free consultation to discuss your specific case.