Not only do car accidents result in damage to your vehicle and injuries, but they can also cause long-term financial problems. If you have ever been involved in a car accident in Sacramento, you must have wondered about how your car insurance rates are going to be affected by it. Accidents can bump up your insurance premiums significantly and cause them to remain at a high rate for years.
Moreover, if you are involved in multiple accidents over the years, your premium can also increase the compound. While steering clear of accidents is the obvious way to avoid insurance claims and increased rates, this is not always possible. Sure, you can be careful while driving, but these unforeseen situations can occur at any time and anywhere.
Every car accident situation is unique and can affect your insurance premium differently and for varying periods. This article will help give you a better understanding of how being at-fault in an auto accident can affect your insurance rates.
How Do Car Accidents Affect Insurance Rates?
A car accident mostly pushes up your insurance rates. The exact effect on your insurance rates depends on a few factors. These include the:
- The at-fault party in an accident
- The past driving record of the driver involved in the accident
- The total amount of the accident claim
If your insurance premium does increase, it won’t be in effect until your policy is changed or renewed. Moreover, even when it is in effect, the increase will only be a specific part of your current insurance premium, which is referred to as ‘surcharge.’ The amount of the surcharge can vary and may even decrease after every policy renewal until it no longer affects your car insurance rates.
However, the insurance rate doesn’t have to increase after every accident. Let’s take a look when your car insurance rate will increase and when it will remain the same.
Increase in Insurance Rates
The best-case scenario from all perspectives is that you never get involved in a car accident. However, accidents can occur at any time under any circumstances, which is why you get car insurance in the first place. When an unprecedented situation like a vehicular collision occurs, it’s the responsibility of your insurer to help you get through the process from the initial claim to the settlement.
Your car insurance rates will increase in the following cases:
If you are at-fault in a major car accident in Sacramento, your insurance premium will typically increase.
Previous Driving Record
Your previous driving record plays a significant role in determining your insurance premium in California. So, if you have experienced any recent blips while driving, such as running the traffic signal, it can impact the renewal of your insurance policy.
If you had a safe-driving discount on your insurance policy, which was given to you for your claim-free driving record, losing that could also cause the insurance rates to go up.
Involvement in Multiple Accidents
If you are involved in more than one accident within a three-year time period, your premium surcharges will consistently stack up. This can make your car insurance very costly if you’re involved in multiple accidents over a short time period.
Insurance Rates Remain the Same
Insurance rates don’t always increase! Just because you’re involved in an accident, you don’t need to assume that your insurance rates will naturally increase.
Your car insurance rates will remain the same in the following cases:
Minor accidents, such as fender benders, do not usually call for an increase in the insurance rates. However, if you have a history of reckless or unsafe driving, this can impact your car insurance rates.
Your insurance premium will remain the same if you’re not at fault in a Sacramento accident. A few insurance policies entail an ‘accident forgiveness’ clause. Under this, the company usually rewards you by evaluating your safe-driving patterns and checks your entire driving record.
How Do At-Fault Accidents Affect Car Insurance Rates?
In Sacramento, California the at-fault party in an accident determines the consequences of an accident. As mentioned, these two factors ultimately help identify the person who is liable to pay for the injuries and damage and who will incur higher insurance rates.
If you are at fault in an accident, it can affect your insurance considerably. Moreover, your insurance rates can further increase if you have received a traffic violation ticket. The only way your insurance rates will remain the same is if you have an ‘accident waiver’ or a ‘driving record protection.’ In simple terms, this waiver helps eliminate any first accident charges and prevents your premium from increasing.
However, you are still expected to keep paying for the coverage unless you switch your car insurance company. But, bear in mind that the coverage isn’t always applicable and available to everyone. You are required to have it on your insurance policy before you get into an accident.
Accidents, Traffic Tickets, and Convictions
Even if you are at fault in an accident, this doesn’t mean that you will receive a traffic violation ticket. For instance, unsafe weather conditions, such as heavy rain or storms, tend to contribute to their fair share of accidents. So, even if you were maintaining a distance from the car ahead or behind of you, you still could’ve met with an accident. Under these circumstances, you will not be subject to a traffic ticket.
Here are a few cases in which you will be given a traffic ticket if you cause an accident.
- Reckless and irresponsible driving
- Fleeing the scene of the accident
- Speeding away
- Tailgating (following another vehicle too closely)
- Traffic lane violations
- Incorrect overtaking or turnings
- Not following traffic signs and rules such as traffic signals and road signs
Insurance companies are worried or concerned about the amount of fine or demerit points you incur. They only care about the number of violations you have and their severity.
Accidents are classified as regular and serious. Regular traffic violations will not increase your auto insurance rates if it is the first violation you commit. However, if you happen to incur two regular traffic violations, your insure surcharge will increase by 20%.
Even one serious traffic violation can have a significant impact on your insurance surcharge. You can expect to incur at least a 20% surcharge increase with your first violation. A second, serious traffic violation will bump up your insurance surcharge by another 50%.
So, if you violate the traffic law, causing a severe accident, you can expect to experience a considerable increase in your insurance surcharge.
A criminal conviction will ultimately result in your car insurance policy being canceled. Moreover, it can also lead to an extreme increase in your insurance rates.
Why Do Car Insurance Rates Increase In an At-Fault Car Accident?
The law of being ‘Principally at Fault’ during an accident affects the insurance rates. For obvious reasons, if the accident for which a claim is being made is not your fault, then this doesn’t form any basis for a hike in insurance rates. California is a ‘comparative fault’ jurisdiction. This is important to know because even if some portion of the accident fault lies with one party, they can’t file a personal injury claim.
So, what does ‘principally at fault’ have to do with auto accidents and insurance? You see, as per state laws, the driver whose actions or omissions contributed to at least 51% of the proximate cause of the accident will be considered the at-fault party.
If you are the at-fault party in a car accident, your car insurance rates go up because your insurance company also has to pay for the damages that you have caused to other parties. This is typically covered under third-party liability insurances and accident benefits coverage. This covers:
- Benefits for those who have suffered in an accident. This includes income replacement and medical expenses.
- Replacement or repair of the damaged vehicle and other property losses during an accident
- All legal expenses incurred, especially if you are sued.
One thing you need to keep in mind is that insurance coverage isn’t exhaustive. You usually have a policy limit. So, in case you have a policy limit of $100,000 for your third-party liability insurance coverage, then that is the maximum that will be paid out. If the costs incurred are any higher than the coverage policy, you will be paying them out of your pocket. This is one of the main reasons why you require adequate third-party insurance protection.
For How Long Does an Accident Affect Car Insurance Rates?
Another question that most people are curious about is the time duration for which their insurance rates will increase. If you have been involved in an accident or a moving violation, your driving history will have complete details of it longer than you want it.
Insurance companies first evaluate and assess the severity of the accident and the total damages incurred. After this, they determine the extent to which your insurance rate will get increased and the length of time for which you will have to bear the high insurance rates.
You can expect your accident surcharge to decline every year if you are not involved in another car accident. In many US states, including California, the insurance surcharge will gradually decrease over three years, until it is entirely non-existent. However, this only applies under the case that you altogether avoid getting involved in another accident.
How to Reduce Car Insurance Rates after an At-Fault Accident
Here are a few ways to help you reduce your car insurance rates after an accident.
Inform Your Insurer
You need to tell your insurance company everything about an accident, no matter how big or small it is. For instance, if you cause a minor accident in which you’re at fault, and no one was injured, you might be inclined towards hiding it from your insurance company so that you can avoid the premium. However, if the other party sues you, later on, your insurer might refuse to honor your policy.
Check If Your Policy Entails an Accident Forgiveness Clause
Many insurance policies include an accident forgiveness clause. Insurers choose to ignore your first mishap and keep your premium the same. You need to confirm with your insurance company if you have any such provision in your agreement. However, your insurance company may require you not to be involved in any moving violations for at least three years.
Take Advantage of Discounts
Another great way to save up on insurance premiums after a car accident is to take advantage of discounts. Ask your insurance company if they are willing to offer lower rates because you have been a long-term customer.
We hope this article on car insurance rates proved helpful. Here are a few takeaways from this article:
- If you are not at fault during an accident, have a squeaky clean driving record and have only been involved in a minor accident, your car insurance rates will remain the same
- As the insurance inspector evaluates your surcharge, you will increase a considerable hike in your insurance rates if you are at fault
- If you experience any increase in surcharge, it will probably be put into full effect when your policy is renewed. This largely depends on your insurance company and can last up to almost nine years
Schedule a Consultation
Whether you are the at fault party or not, the personal injury lawyers at Phoong Law Corp have years of experience handling and winning these types of difficult cases. It’s always wise to seek legal advice to know what kind of situation you are facing. Schedule a free consultation to find out what your legal options are today. There is no obligation and no fee unless your case is won.