By How Much Does You Car Insurance Go Up After an At-Fault Accident?

Written by James Hirby and Fact Checked by The Law Dictionary Staff  

If you haven't looked over your car insurance policy in some time, take a moment to do so. Auto insurance policyholders who don't bother to read their policies can be blindsided by seemingly punitive rate increases or denials of claims. Although private insurers are undoubtedly driven by the profit motive and may design claim and coverage protocols that reflect this inclination, most providers tend to act rationally. When pressed to do so, car insurance companies can usually provide solid justifications for their decisions to drop customers from coverage or deny certain claims. Of course, this doesn't mean that you have to agree with every decision that your auto insurance provider makes.

In fact, you're unlikely to agree with your provider's decision to raise your premiums after an accident. Depending upon the circumstances surrounding the accident and your previous driving record, your premiums could rise by a substantial amount in the months following the incident.

If you're involved in an accident caused by another driver, you may not be considered to be at fault for the event. In fact, you may be compensated for any damage to your vehicle or person by the other driver's insurance company. A police report of the accident and the subsequent insurance-company investigation will collectively determine which driver was at fault. While each insurance company might come to its own conclusion about how to assign blame, most scenarios can be resolved by a joint admission of fault. In some cases, the claims adjusters assigned to investigate the accident may base their findings off of the already-extant police report.

During the premium-adjustment process, most insurance companies treat partial assignations of fault as full admissions of blame. In other words, a driver who is determined to be liable for 50 percent of the damage caused in a given accident will experience the same rate increase as a comparable driver who is determined to be fully liable for all of the damage caused in a similar event.

Assuming that you're found to be at fault for a given accident, the size of your rate increase will depend upon your driving history. If you haven't been involved in an accident or received a moving violation in several years, your rates will probably remain constant. If you've been involved in an accident within the past three years, your rates may rise by between 25 and 50 percent. Any previous convictions for DUIs or reckless driving could magnify this increase.

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