If you’ve recently been in a car accident and had to deal with all the stress, worry, and frustration that just seems to happen automatically, whether you’ve suffered a physical injury or not, then it can seem like adding insult to injury when you get a notice from your insurance company that your car insurance rates are increasing. Should you simply accept that a car accident means that you will get stuck with higher car insurance rates? Maybe the accident’s even your fault; should you just accept that more expensive rates are in your future? In a word, no. There are a number of steps you can take to have the best shot at keeping your rates as low as possible, even after a car accident.
The first step to lower car insurance rates is to recognize that if you are considered “substantially at fault” in the accident and then just sit back and do nothing, then you likely will be hit with much higher car insurance rates. If the accident wasn’t your fault, then generally speaking, your rates should not see an increase, because according to Florida Statute 626.9541(1)—a description of Unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices defined, under (o) Illegal dealings in premiums; excess or reduced charges for insurance—then the following applies:
3.a. Imposing or requesting an additional premium for a policy of motor vehicle liability, personal injury protection, medical payment, or collision insurance or any combination thereof or refusing to renew the policy solely because the insured was involved in a motor vehicle accident unless the insurer’s file contains information from which the insurer in good faith determines that the insured was substantially at fault in the accident.
However, if you are considered to be “substantially at fault” in the accident, then even small claims can result in significant rate increases. Rates vary by state, vehicle, and many other factors, but even small claims in an at-fault scenario can result in rate increases that range from 20% to as high as 90%, particularly in very expensive insurance states like Massachusetts and California, while the average increase for Florida is very middle-of-the-road, 38% (this is just slightly below the national average car insurance rate increase after a car accident of 41%).
Okay, so you’ve decided to be proactive and fight your rate increase; what should you do?
Talk to Your Insurance Company
Wait, pick up the phone and talk to the cold-hearted, callous company that kicked you when you were down and increased your rate after an accident? Yes. Many companies offer some form of accident forgiveness program, and if you have a relatively spotless accident history, and this new accident is relatively minor, maybe even your very first accident, then there are often some opportunities to get this accident “forgiven”. If your driving record is not clean as you’d hoped, then this might not be the option for you, but there are some other things you can do.
There are dozens and dozens of auto insurance providers in the state of Florida, ruthlessly competing for your business, and you’ve likely seen the TV commercials to prove it. Each company underwrites and prices risk differently, makes a business decision to serve different market segments, and has different types of rates and policies available to Florida residents. Just because your current insurance company is threatening to raise your rates, don’t take that to mean that you can’t do better elsewhere. In fact, many companies will use the offer of accident forgiveness as an incentive to switch car insurance companies after an accident.
When you compare rates, be sure to shop for quotes online and compare rates from at least 5 or more competing insurance companies. Speaking of endless insurance commercials, here it’s actually true that spending just 15 minutes comparing rates could end up saving you… well, you know the rest, right?
If you are in Lakeland, Winter Haven, or Lutz and have questions involving a car accident and need expert legal representation, don’t hesitate to contact Tania L. Rivas and the Rivas Law Group to speak to an experienced auto injury attorney today.