An at-fault or chargeable car accident occurs when you are at fault for causing property or bodily injury to another person, whether it’s a minor fender bender or a more serious collision in which you damage someone else’s vehicle. When you are at fault for a car accident, your car insurance premiums can significantly increase. But what exactly does your insurance company consider chargeable, justifying a rate increase?
Many car insurance companies offer forgiveness or safe-driving incentives, which waive insurance rate increases or pay you for being accident-free. Those can help keep your cheap car insurance rates — or at least keep them stable. Find out when an accident will and won’t increase your rates and understand accident forgiveness plans.
When Does a Car Accident Raise Your Rates?
An incident is considered a chargeable occurrence caused by an accident or a traffic violation. It’s an insurance-reported problem where you’re either at fault for an accident, fined, or required to appear in court.
When your insurance policy considers the accident chargeable, typically, you’re 50% or more at fault for it, and the claim exceeds a specific sum of money. If this occurs, your company adds a surcharge to your premium.
How long this surcharge stays on your insurance usually depends on your previous driving record. Driver’s with a history of being at fault in accidents are going to face higher insurance rates, regardless of their provider. Most surcharges are removed from your insurance after three to five years.
There are two kinds of chargeable events: accidents and infractions.
A chargeable accident refers to one in which you caused property damage or bodily harm to another person due to an at-fault collision. This could be part of a minor fender bender or a more severe accident in which you damage someone else’s car.
Under some circumstances, if a court convicts you of an on-the-spot citation, that will result in a chargeable violation. Speeding citations are just one example; other traffic infractions include violating your driver’s license restrictions (driving under a suspended or revoked license) and failing to stop and give information if you’re involved in an accident.
When Does an Accident Not Increase Insurance Premiums?
It’s more challenging to identify what isn’t an accident than to determine what is. However, most insurance firms evaluate the driver’s responsibility for an accident.
Some insurers demand that the policyholder be at least 50% at fault. If you don’t reach this threshold, insurers won’t usually increase your rates. However, there are exceptions. For example, some insurers do not adhere to this rule for new customers. Proving fault in a collision might be difficult, though.
State Farm holds that the policyholder is not to blame if they were:
- Parked lawfully
- Reimbursed by, or on behalf of, a person responsible for the accident
- Not convicted of a moving traffic violation in connection with the accident, but the other driver was
- Not convicted of a moving traffic violation in connection with the accident, but birds, animals, missiles, or falling things caused the damage
Insurance companies typically focus on your policy’s coverage before three years. So, if you were in an accident five years ago, it is unlikely to stay on your driving record and influence your rates. However, some accident forgiveness programs might have different requirements.
What is Accident Forgiveness?
Accident forgiveness is extra coverage that you can get in addition to your automobile insurance policy, which will not raise your price due to your first incident. You may be eligible to add these products and services to your coverage for free if you’ve been with a firm for a specific time and have a clean driving record. However, most companies charge extra to participate and may have restrictions for new drivers or new customers.
If you bought accident forgiveness coverage before your accident, you might be eligible to have the claim surcharge waived. Although each provider’s and state’s eligibility requirements are different, most accident forgiveness programs aim to waive the first at-fault loss on your policy and just one loss within a specified time frame, such as three or five years.
Proving Fault in a Car Accident
Insurers generally raise your car insurance premiums when a motorist is at least 50% responsible for an accident. With just anecdotal evidence, proving fault might be tricky. You’ll need to demonstrate the following on your accident insurance claim or in court:
- State law required the other person to be reasonably cautious in your presence
- The other person was careless
- The behavior of the other person caused your injuries
- You incurred losses (automobile damage, pain, or lost income)
You may demonstrate the other person’s responsibility (or dispute a finding that you were at fault) by collecting vehicle accident evidence and studying traffic regulations in your state. When filing a claim, include the following information:
- Police report
- Damage to the vehicle
- Witness testimony
- Photos of the damage
A no-doubt liability accident is when you’re in a car accident where the type of accident you’re in is the other driver’s fault 99% of the time. Insurance companies rarely dispute these cases. Rear-end collisions and left-turn accidents are typical no-doubt liability examples.
Understand the Effects of an Accident on Your Car Insurance
If you are involved in a car accident and are determined to be at fault, your car insurance rates will likely increase. However, many car insurance companies offer forgiveness or safe-driving incentives, which waive rate increases or pay you for being accident-free. Those can ease the burden of an increased premium after an at-fault accident.
If you find yourself in this situation, be sure to research your carrier’s policies and see what kind of relief may be available to you. At Finance is us, we’re here to help you make informed decisions about your finances after a car accident.
Disclaimer: All content on this site is information of a general nature and does not address the circumstances of any particular entity or individual, nor is the information a substitute for professional financial advice and services.