When buying auto insurance, insurers take your driving record into account to determine your rate. If your insurance company thinks you’re likely to get into an accident due to your history, your premium will be more expensive than the premium of someone whose driving record is clean.
But even if you can secure low rates due to a clean driving record, that doesn’t mean your low rates are locked in forever.
After getting into an accident and filing a claim with your insurance company, you might see an increase in your car insurance rate. At-fault claims and claims made against you are likely to cause your premiums to go up, and even accidents that aren’t your fault can impact your auto insurance rates, in some cases.
Here’s what drivers need to know about how their claims can impact their car insurance rates and what to do if your premium increases.
Will My Auto Insurance Go Up After an Accident?
Generally, when you make a claim after a car accident that is primarily your fault, your auto insurance premium is going to increase. If your insurer increases your premium, it will usually remain increased for an average of three years, per the Insurance Information Institute (III).
How much your premium increases depends on several factors. For example, the more costly the accident is, the more your rate might increase. Moreover, if you’ve been involved in other accidents in recent years or have a history of driving violations, your auto insurance will raise more.
After you file your claim, your insurance company will evaluate the incident to determine how much of a risk they think you will be, to continue to insure. Depending on the severity of an incident, you could see your rates jump by over 25%.
In severe cases, insurers may choose not to renew your policy. Each insurance company has its own standards for what constitutes a non-renewal, but certain incidents, like drunk driving accidents, often result in a non-renewal from almost any insurance company.
What Factors Can Impact My Premium After a Claim?
After filing a claim, your car insurance rate may or may not increase depending on your insurance company and the details of the accident.
There are a few key factors that can impact your premium after a claim:
- Your driving record,
- The cost of an accident
- The severity of the incident,
- And who is deemed to be at fault.
If your driving record is clean—meaning no accidents or traffic violations in the past several years—your rates probably won’t increase by much following a major accident. High-risk drivers, with several accidents on their records, see larger increases in their premiums after a claim.
The cost and severity of the accident are also major factors. Major accidents that total your car and result in 10s of thousands of dollars in damages, often have a major impact on drivers’ premiums. Meanwhile, minor accidents—like fender benders that result in one or two thousand dollars in damages—might not impact your car insurance rate at all.
The last major factor is who caused the accident. Insurance adjusters evaluate car accidents and determine which driver is at fault. If you are found to be the at-fault driver after filing a claim, you are much more likely to see an increase in your car insurance premium.
Will My Rates Go Up After a No-Fault Accident?
While an at-fault accident can cause an increase in your car insurance premium, no-fault accidents are less likely to result in rate increases. Though, it can still happen in some cases.
If you are involved in an accident through no fault of your own, such as when someone runs into your parked car, you will still typically have to file a claim with your insurance provider.
While it might seem unfair to drivers, no-fault accidents can still result in a premium increase. Despite not being at fault, some insurers will still view you as a risky driver for having an accident on your record. However, in these cases, the increase is often much smaller than it would be after an at-fault accident.
This also applies to comprehensive car insurance claims. If your vehicle is damaged by an incident other than a collision, like a natural disaster, you may see a small jump in your car insurance rate; depending on your insurance company.
What Are The Types of Auto Insurance?
Most auto insurance policies include the same basic coverages to protect you and other drivers while you’re on the road.
Here are a few of the most common car insurance coverages and how they protect drivers from damages.
Liability coverage is split into two parts: bodily injury liability coverage and property damage liability coverage.
Bodily injury liability coverage pays for the other driver’s medical expenses if you are held liable for the accident. If these expenses exceed your coverage limit, you will be responsible for the remaining costs.
Property damage coverage covers repaired expenses for the other driver’s car when you cause an accident.
Collision insurance can help pay to repair damages to your vehicle following an accident, regardless of who was at fault. After paying your deductible, collision insurance will cover the remaining damages to your vehicle up to your coverage limit.
Comprehensive insurance is similar to collision insurance, but rather than covering damages that result from a collision, it helps cover damages caused by incidents other than collisions.
This might include damages caused by fire, vandalism, theft, flood, or extreme weather events.
Personal Injury Protection Insurance
Personal injury protection coverage can help cover medical expenses for you and your passengers after a covered accident.
Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage
If you are involved in an accident that was caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver, uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance can help cover your damages.
Since many drivers choose to purchase the minimum coverage they need to comply with their state’s regulations, underinsured motorist coverage can be very helpful if the driver who caused the accident does not have enough coverage to pay for your damages.
Medical Payments Coverage
Following an accident, you might need treatment for your injuries. Medical payments coverage can help cover your medical costs after a covered accident, regardless of whether you were at fault.
How Long Do Accidents Stay on Insurance?
While an accident can cause your rate to go up when it’s time to renew your policy, the good news is that your premium won’t stay inflated forever.
Most car insurance companies only consider the past three to five years when reviewing your driving record. Once the accident falls outside of this window, it will typically not have an impact on your car insurance rates.
As long as you continue to drive responsibly and maintain a clean driving record following an accident, your rate will eventually drop back down in most cases.
What is Accident Forgiveness?
Accident forgiveness is one of the best ways for drivers to protect themselves against rate spikes.
Most car insurance companies offer this optional policy when you sign up for car insurance, and it is typically a very affordable add-on.
Essentially, accident forgiveness means that your rates won’t increase after your first at-fault accident. Adding accident forgiveness to your auto insurance policy is a great way to gain peace of mind while on the road and protect yourself in case you ever cause a collision.
Make sure to ask your insurer about this optional policy as not all drivers are eligible for accident forgiveness programs. To qualify, you may need a completely clean driving record; meaning no accidents or violations. However, requirements vary from one insurance company to the next.
How to Lower Your Premium After an Accident
If your car insurance premium has gone up after an accident, you might look for ways to bring it back down.
While it can be difficult to do, there are a few steps you can take to lower your rate, including:
- Waiting: Since accidents tend to fall off of your record after three to five years, waiting a few years and maintaining a clean driving record will usually result in your premiums dropping.
- Shopping around: If your current insurance provider informs you that your rate will go up, it’s worth shopping around for quotes from other insurers. While the quotes still might be higher than they would have been before your accident, you may still be able to find a more affordable policy elsewhere.
- Taking a defensive driving course: Almost all car insurance providers offer discounts to help drivers save on auto insurance. By taking an accident prevention course or a defensive driving course, you may reduce your car insurance rate.
If you decide to shop around for a new car insurance policy, ask about discounts you may be eligible for.
Request a Quote
If you have been involved in an accident, you might see your premium increase when it’s time to renew your policy. Fortunately, though, this increase doesn’t last forever and there are steps drivers can take to lower their premiums in the meantime.
At KSA Insurance, we work with drivers in South Carolina and across the southeastern United States to help them find comprehensive car insurance policies and discounts that offer all the coverage they need at low rates.
Contact us today to request a quote and learn more about car insurance in South Carolina.