Will A Car Accident Affect My Insurance Rate?
Nashville Car Accident Attorneys Who Care About You, Not The Insurance Company
The damage is done. Your car is totaled and the driver suffered injuries as a result of your actions. Now you’re probably curious if your car insurance rates will increase.
Car insurance is meant to protect you and cover potential damages that may have occurred in an accident. Having cheap car insurance with minimum coverage may seem like a good choice financially to save money, but the cheapest car insurance company will do nothing for you in the event of a collision. The best financial decisions are not always the right ones, and comprehensive coverage or full coverage will protect you more effectively than cheap car insurance.
Whether you caused an accident or were the victim of one, it’s essential to know what insurance companies provide in your policy. Your company’s rates will change when different policies do not have the same coverage, so do the necessary research to find car insurance premiums that you can afford and will get the job done.
Also, an insurance writer will evaluate the risk associated with your driving record and the automobile you use to calculate average rates. A riskier driver will typically have higher average rates. Plenty of other factors will contribute to the personalized rates.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car wreck, the Nashville car accident attorneys at Mitch Grissim & Associates can help you with your legal claim.
How Do Car Insurance Companies Define An Accident?
The Value Penguin shared an article that discusses multiple facets of insurance rates by looking at the five largest insurers. Each car insurance company has a slightly different definition of what they define as an accident. To give you an example, State Farm and GEICO have similar perspectives:
“Totaling $750 or more under property damage liability coverage and collision coverage combined. The accident must also be at least 50% the driver’s fault. GEICO calls them “qualifying accidents,” and similar to State Farm, has a monetary threshold. In this case, however, for certain “risk groups,” the threshold is $500 instead of $750. GEICO also maintains the 50% at fault limit.”
These standards must be met for a collision to be considered an accident under their auto insurance policy. This will affect any changes in car insurance premiums, surcharges, and what insurers offer in an insurance claim.
There is also a definition for not-at-fault accidents or a no-fault accident.
What is Not Defined as an Accident?
Value Penguin shared State Farm’s list of what they do not define as an accident. According to State Farm, “An accident shall not be considered at-fault or chargeable if the applicant demonstrates…”
- It was caused by contact with birds, animals, missiles, or falling objects.
- They were lawfully parked.
- They were reimbursed by, or on behalf of, a person responsible for the accident or has a judgment against such person.
- They were struck in the rear by another vehicle and have not been convicted of a moving traffic violation in connection with the accident.
- They were involved in a “hit-and-run” accident and reported the incident to the proper authorities within 24 hours.
- They were not convicted of a moving traffic violation in connection with the accident, but the operator of the other automobile involved did receive a moving traffic violation.
If any of these situations apply, it may not be categorized as an automobile accident. However, what is defined as an accident may vary from state to state and will depend on your insurer.
Your Rates Don’t Always Increase
Myth: Car insurance rates increase after an accident.
Truth: Car insurance rates don’t always increase after an accident.
In some cases, small collisions like a minor fender bender may not cause your car insurance rates to increase, especially if your driving record shows you’re usually a safe driver. If the accident was the fault of another driver, your record is still considered a positive, and the likelihood that you will be punished with a rate hike is pretty low.
Some insurance companies have additional perks you can add to your policy, such as accident forgiveness, that avoid the need to raise rates after an accident.
Accident Forgiveness Programs
Insurance companies offer accident forgiveness that can protect your driving record from being impacted by the insurance company and their at-fault rating system. One thing to remember is that not every at-fault accident will be forgiven, so it’s important to know your insurance company’s policy and procedures for accident forgiveness.
However, this perk can greatly benefit those with a safe driving record, especially if they have been accident-free. If a company offers accident forgiveness as a part of their auto insurance policy, take advantage of it.
Surcharges: The Most Overlooked Factor When Shopping for Insurance
When people shop for car insurance companies, they often overlook surcharges, which is what you will be charged to your insurance premium after an event such as an at-fault accident, ticket, or citation.
If you’re uncertain about what your surcharge fee may be, talk with your insurer about what those charges might entail. After-accident rates will vary based on the type of auto insurance you have and what your policy states.
Surcharges can take many motorists off-guard when they are hit with these fees, so do your research beforehand so that you know what is coming after an event such as a car accident occurs.
How Do You Decrease Your Car Insurance Rates?
Surcharges can be added to your insurance policy to raise rates after at-fault accidents. But, there are ways to potentially offset the pricing, such as:
- Increasing the deductible.
- Find ways to improve your overall credit report score.
- Trying not to file too many claims.
The greatest method for decreasing your auto insurance rates, however, is preventing further at-fault accidents. This is why it’s essential to drive safely at all times and maintain a clean driving record. Of course, you can always switch to cheap car insurance, but then you will lose full coverage.
Defensive driving tactics are the best strategy for avoiding collisions with other drivers. Keep your head on a swivel, be aware of merges where you could be cut off, check your mirrors constantly, and always be on the lookout at intersections.
Automobile accidents happen often so all drivers on the roadways must practice driver safety while operating a car. Below are several more tips to help you drive safe:
- Keep eyes focused on the road- It’s easy to become distracted while driving. Keep your eyes on the road at all times and avoid texting, talking, and reaching for items. Even hands-free devices can divert your focus.
- Be a defensive driver- It’s important not to assume other drivers will make the right safety choices.
- Obey traffic laws- This can include using turn signals, hazard lights when necessary, and not running red lights. Also, maintain a consistent speed within the legal limits and try to avoid fast braking and accelerating.
A safe driver with an excellent driving history doesn’t just focus on their safety but strives to ensure the safety of other drivers on the roadways as well.
6 Things You Should Do After an At-Fault Accident
Check to see if anyone is injured
Safety is the top priority after an at-fault accident. After the collision occurs, check for injuries either to yourself or the other passengers in the vehicle so that you can inform emergency services when you contact them.
Get to safety
This step may or may not be possible. Other cars represent a huge risk to vehicles and passengers that have already been in an accident, especially if they are in the middle of the road. This scenario could lead to multiple accidents. Try to get your vehicle off the road if safe to do so, or at least turn on your hazard lights.
Call for help
Contact emergency services as quickly as possible. You must notify the police after an accident so that they can arrive on the scene and conduct an investigation. Plus, if there are injuries, medical personnel can administer care.
Ask for contact information
Exchanging contact information with all parties involved is a critical step after an at-fault accident. This will be important for the insurance claim, negotiations between insurance providers, and keeping a record for yourself. If the other driver is hesitant to share their information with you, try to get a copy of the police report.
You must also find out about their auto insurance carrier and their car insurance policy number. Take a picture of their card and their driver’s license if possible.
Document the scene
To prove who is at fault, accident scenes offer all the evidence that could help in your case. Take pictures of everything, including license plates of all vehicles, damages accrued, and the location of the accident.
The more information you record, the better chance you will have of filing comprehensive claims that will result in a fair settlement.
Seek medical attention
This step happens after leaving the accident scene. How can an accident affect you? Sometimes it could be property damage that is hard to pay for or injuries that must be treated. But not every injury is obvious at the beginning.
You could experience an internal bodily injury that presents symptoms later. Even if you were treated at the scene of the collision, those medical professionals do not have the equipment to do a more thorough screening.
A trip to your doctor’s office to get checked for additional damage is the wisest decision for your health in case there is unseen damage.
Car Insurance Requirements in Tennessee
Car insurance requirements will vary depending upon the state you reside. In Tennessee, residents are required to have liability insurance. One thing to remember is that you also have multiple options you can add to your policy for additional protection that will increase your insurance rate. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) lists the legal requirements you must possess in order to drive:
Required minimum coverage limits for liability include:
- $25,000 for each bodily injury or death per accident
- $50,000 for total bodily injury or death per accident
- $15,000 for property damage
- Uninsured motorists
- Medical payments
- Rental car
These additional options will raise your car insurance rate but protect you in more circumstances. For many drivers, slightly higher car insurance rates are worth the cost for extra protection. Just remember that average rates after an accident may increase.
Common Causes of Accidents
Car accidents can occur for numerous reasons, such as:
- Barriers and guardrails
- Highway construction zones
- Off and on-ramps
- Shoulder design
- Talking on the phone
- Changing radio stations
- Eating or drinking
- Other people riding in the vehicle
Failure to Obey Traffic Laws
- Running red lights
- Failure to use turn signals
- Driving with your lights turned off
- Driving under the influence
Do I Have a Case?
In some situations, people are unsure if they have an accident case. Only an experienced and qualified attorney can determine whether you have the grounds to take legal action. There is also a statute of limitations that affects when to file a claim after a recent crash, so pay attention to the time frame that you have to follow.
The injuries you have suffered have to be a direct result of another individual’s negligence. In other words, you must prove that their failure to implement safety on the roadways caused you to suffer injuries or property damage.
Compensation: Special Damages and General Damages
In most motor vehicle accidents, if you have suffered injuries or damages to your vehicle, you will file a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company. A licensed agent from the insurer will then calculate an amount they believe you should receive to cover the damages and any physical injuries.
This can include lost wages, property damage, and medical bills. These types of damages are typically known as “economic damages.” If insurance rates after an accident increase, this type of compensation could help cover those extra out-of-pocket expenses.
Also known as “non-economic suffering,” general damages cover pain and suffering, mental anguish, emotional distress, and shortened lifespan.
Once the insurance company has calculated both the special and general damages, they may offer you a settlement.
Our law firm highly recommends that you consult an attorney after an accident involving motor vehicles because insurance companies tend to low-ball you initially in hopes that you will settle for the first amount offered.
We understand how insurance companies work. When you hire one of our Nashville car accident attorneys, you can trust that we will not let you settle for an amount lower than what you deserve for your injuries and any damages that resulted from someone else’s negligent actions. Don’t let the insurance companies trick you into believing their first offer is the best.
Injured in an Automobile Accident? Call Mitch Grissim & Associates
At Mitch Grissim & Associates, we are devoted to serving our community by providing quality legal representation and compassion for each person’s situation. We strive to help victims get the compensation they rightfully deserve under state laws and have a long claims history filled with victories for our clients.
Your recovery is the most important factor for us. Receiving compensation for bodily injury or property damage that you suffered at someone else’s hands can make the stressful recovery process a little easier. We hope you find this article helpful when making financial decisions both before and after a car accident affects you.
Contact one of our car accident lawyers to help you with your accident claim
If you or a loved one has been a victim of an accident, call our law office today at 615-255-9999 or fill out our free consultation form.