Clients often raise serious concerns about using their own insurance after a not-at-fault accident for fear that their insurance company may raise their rates. Insurance companies are likely to raise your rates after not-at-fault accidents regardless of whether you make a claim or not.
The Consumer Federation of America performed research regarding not at fault accidents and insurance rates and concluded that “[s]afe drivers who are in accidents caused by others often see auto insurance rate hikes.” The Federation studied insurance rates after not-at-fault accidents in 10 major cities. In 8 of the cities, insurance rates increased. The only two cities that did not see a rate increase were Los Angeles and Oklahoma City. California and Oklahoma are the only 2 states with consumer protection laws that prevent rate increases after not-at-fault accidents.
That is not the entire story. Almost every major insurance company raised rates. Progressive penalized not innocent drivers the most by an average of 16.65%. Geico and Farmers were not far behind Progressive at 14.1% and 11.1%, respectively. Allstate occasionally penalized not-at-fault drivers and State Farm did not raise rates at all.
Additionally, the report also indicates that insurance companies raised rates more on lower income drivers than higher income drivers by a staggering margin.
In Texas, there is no law protecting consumers from rate increases after not-at-fault accidents. In fact, insurance companies have the right to cancel your coverage after two not-at-fault accidents within a year.
If you are paying an insurance company for underinsured motorist coverage and/or personal injury protection it is probably in your best interest to make claims on those policies. These claims can increase your recovery and ensure that you can pay for proper medical treatment. Of course, it may also allow you to pay for the rate increase your insurance company is going to make you pay just because someone else hit your car or truck and caused your injuries.
Will My Insurance Rates Go Up If I File a Personal Injury Claim in Texas?
Logic would seem to dictate that the less severe the injury, the simpler it should be to resolve your personal injury claim. However, that is not always the case. All too many insurance companies are refusing to be fair in settling personal injury claims, knowing full well that consumers will have to seek a qualified attorney to collect what is rightfully due. For now, suffice it to say, the insurance company is probably not going to bend over backward trying to be fair with you. Therefore, what you are about to learn here should be invaluable in your efforts to understand and deal with insurance companies when you have a personal injury claim. With this in mind, let us proceed.
Will my insurance premiums go up?
The short answer is, it depends on your insurance company. Insurance companies generally consider a number of factors when deciding whether or not to raise your insurance premiums after a motor vehicle collision. Some of these factors include the amount bodily injury and property damage that was caused, which party was listed at fault for the collision, your personal history with your insurance company such as the amount of time you have been with them or if you have had previous claims in the past, and how recent those previous claims were. Often times, if a number of claims have not been made against your policy, and you are not listed as the at-fault party, your insurance premium will not be affected significantly.
What Rate Increase Can I Expect?
There is no actual firm rule of thumb when it comes to an expected increase in your premium following an accident. In fact, these rates often vary by state, and can be as little at 12% in the state of New York or as large as 87% in Minnesota. You can truly expect additional premiums to add up over the years if you have multiple accidents on your record or if you were at-fault for the accident.
What Can I Do About an Insurance Premium Increase?
If you find that your insurance premium goes up after an accident, there are courses of action you can take. First of all, if this is your first accident or you were proven to not be at fault, you can talk to your auto insurance provider and ask if they could lower your premium back down. Many insurance companies offer accident forgiveness, which allows a literal forgiveness of the accident on your record so that your premium won’t climb too high.
Avoid an Accident in the First Place
The number one way to keep your insurance premiums low is to make sure there are no accidents on your driving record. You can avoid an accident by making sure you practice good driving habits, including not engaging in distracted driving or texting while driving, not drinking or using substances before driving, and keeping your eyes on the road and following the speed limit. Being a safe driver will not only keep your insurance rates low, it will also keep you safe and protect you and your passengers from harm.
Can I use my insurance to fix the damage to my vehicle even if it wasn’t my fault?
Yes! It will speed the process up, so you don’t have to wait for the at-fault party’s insurance to accept liability for the collision.
What happens if you use your insurance to fix the damage to your car, but it was the other person’s fault?
If you are involved in a motor vehicle collision and you are not at fault, you can always pay your deductible to your own insurance carrier, and they will take care of fixing your vehicle damages for you. After this process is complete, your insurance company will begin the process of subrogation, in which your insurance company will contact the insurance company for the at-fault party after liability has been accepted, at which time your insurance carrier will be reimbursed the amount they paid out for the property damage to your vehicle.
Rights and Obligations – Yours and Theirs
If we were to go into details and subtleties here you would probably lose all interest in reading further, so let’s try to keep this simple. To begin with, you have the obligation to prove who is responsible for your personal injury. Because this is a “comparative negligence” state, YOU also have to prove that YOU were NOT guilty of any negligence that may have contributed to you having sustained a personal injury. Then YOU have the obligation to “mitigate” (minimize) your damages and YOU have to prove your damages. Are you beginning to see a pattern here?
Will my insurance rates go up if I file a personal injury claim in Texas?
One of the most common reasons accident victims don’t file a personal injury claim is because they fear it will have a negative impact on their insurance rates. If you were injured through no fault of your own, how can the company penalize you for something you didn’t have control over?
Pursuing, and even winning a personal injury claim doesn’t mean your insurance rate will increase. When you pursue a claim, there’s no guarantee that you will win, so the insurance company won’t have cause to increase your rates. When you win a case, it means the court found you to be not at fault for your accident (or at least less than 50% at fault), which also does not give them the right to raise your rates.
The only time companies have a right to raise your insurance rates is when you are found to be the negligent or at-fault party. The defendant in your case may have his or her rates raised because they were the ones found to be the cause of your personal injury.
Be Aware of Repetitive Claims
There is one red flag that can be raised when the insurance company reviews your policy. Too many collision claims in a car insurance policy can cause the company to raise questions of your liability. Some insurance companies do limit the number of claims you can submit before they will drop your coverage, so it’s important to have a Texas personal injury attorney who is well-versed in car insurance rates and coverage working on your side.