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My Car Slid on a Patch of Ice and Crashed into a Guardrail. Will My Insurance Rates Go Up?

The cost of car insurance depends upon dozens of factors. Your age, state of residence, previous driving history and many other data points will determine the exact amount that you'll be required to pay your insurer each month. In some cases, even the method with which you pay your premiums can affect your policy's cost: Many insurers offer discounts for customers who make single payments for multiple months of coverage. If you can afford to do so, consider paying for your coverage in six-month or one-year blocks.

Unfortunately, most single-car accidents have an inflationary effect on insurance premiums. If you report such an accident to your insurance company, a record of the incident will be added to your file and will be incorporated into the company's annual reassessment of your policy. If it's the only accident in which you've been involved for several years, you may earn a reprieve from higher premiums. On the other hand, your insurer may deem the incident to be indicative of a pattern of reckless or negligent driving. This is especially likely if you've been involved in other accidents in the recent past. In this case, your premiums will almost certainly rise.

Before you report the accident to your insurance company, you'll need to make an important judgment. The claims adjuster assigned to your case might argue that the accident was caused by your negligence. The poor weather conditions that contributed to the crash may actually encourage him or her to deny your claim outright. To support this judgment, he or she is likely to assert that you were "driving too fast for conditions." Even if the ice on which you slid wasn't visible before you struck it, your adjuster may argue that you should have assumed that ice would form in sub-freezing temperatures and adjusted your driving behaviors accordingly.

This could have serious financial consequences. In addition to being forced to pay out-of-pocket for any repairs to your vehicle, your premiums will almost certainly increase as a result of your perceived negligence. As such, you may not wish to notify your insurance provider of a minor single-car accident that causes no personal injury or serious damage to your vehicle. However, you must report the incident to the police in the event that your vehicle damaged the guardrail. If you do so, you'll also have to make a report to your insurance provider and face the possibility of higher rates.


This article contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation. The Law Dictionary is not a law firm, and this page does not create an attorney-client or legal adviser relationship. If you have specific questions, please consult a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

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