The last thing you want to worry about after a car accident is an increase in the cost of your insurance premiums. If you were involved in a collision, you’ll likely be dealing with injuries, or even the loss of a loved one, mounting medical expenses that you can’t pay, and lost wages from time off work. With all these new costs and stressors, a higher monthly insurance payment only adds to financial strain. So how much will your insurance premiums go up if you are involved in an accident?
It’s possible for your rates to go up after reporting a collision to your insurance company. But the fear of increased rates should not prevent you from seeking the legal help you need to pay for any damages that resulted from the accident. Especially if the accident wasn’t your fault.
If the other driver caused the crash, your rates should not increase. But if they do, any rate increases will usually pale compared to the financial recovery you will obtain from filing a personal injury claim. Further, if you are not at fault in an accident and your insurance rates increase, any decent insurance broker should be able to find multiple carriers that wouldn’t be foolish enough to raise your rates.
Dealing with insurance companies can be one of the most frustrating aspects of a car accident claim—however, a skilled injury lawyer can protect your rights throughout the claims process, and more importantly, help you recover compensation for any injuries or damage sustained in an accident.
Exactly How Much Will My Monthly Rate Go Up?
There is no way to know exactly how much a car accident will increase your monthly premiums. However, you can assume that having a claim made against you is likely to increase your car insurance premium.
One study found that drivers’ rates went up by an average of 28% to 52% after filing an at-fault claim. Generally, it’s not a sure bet that your premium will go up for filing a claim that wasn’t your fault. But it could possibly happen.
The exact amount that your rates will increase is difficult to predict. It depends on:
- the severity of the accident
- who your insurance carrier is
- how many claims you have filed
- your driving record
- other similar factors
As we’ve mentioned, this should not prevent you from filing a claim. An increase in your premium, even a large one, is better than paying thousands of dollars in medical bills, lost wages, and property damage on your own.
Illinois Is a Fault State
The state of Illinois adheres to the traditional fault-based system that many other states follow. Illinois is a tort liability state, which means that you claim an accident on the at-fault driver’s insurance. In our experience, most insurance companies will not increase your rates if the accident is not your fault, especially for your first accident.
Thus, if you are involved in a collision and make the good decision to hire legal representation right away, your car accident lawyer will contact the at-fault driver’s insurance company as soon as possible—and typically your own, too, because you will want to give notice to your insurance carrier of a medical payment claim and a potential uninsured or underinsured motorist claim.
Determining Liability in Illinois
Because Illinois is a “fault state,” it’s even more important to have a lawyer working on your case. That way they can prove that the other driver was at-fault and prevent you from being wrongfully blamed.
Car accident claims are based on negligence. For your claim to move forward, it must be established that the other party involved acted negligently. This is done by establishing that:
- the other driver had a duty of care
- they breached that duty
- that breach caused your injuries and damages
This is the crux of how you prove liability. And only with thorough legal representation can you ensure that everything is done to prove the other party liable. This may involve investigating the accident, collecting video evidence, and interviewing witnesses and involved parties.
In some situations, there may even be multiple parties involved who are partially at-fault. By working with an experienced attorney, you can be sure that the best course of action is taken and that your accident is investigated properly to find all the parties responsible. This is so that you can recover the maximum compensation that you deserve.
Car Insurance May Not Increase
The amount of any increase depends on how an agency performs a study and which insurance companies give information. For example, Bankrate, Insure.com, and CarInsurance.com said that insurance premiums in Illinois increased an average of 30 percent, or about $347, after an accident. NerdWallet, on the other hand, states that insurance premiums in Illinois go up by 52 percent after an accident.
Those increases, however, typically accrue to the person who caused the accident, not the victim. Even so, over a lifetime, a premium increase like those above are nothing compared to the cost of hospitalization, let alone the costs that can come with a catastrophic injury like a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or spinal cord injury.
Don’t let the unfounded fear of a rate increase prevent you from seeking the help of a skilled car accident lawyer.
If you have accident forgiveness on your policy and this is your first accident, it’s likely that your rate may not go up at all. Or your rate may only increase slightly. Either way, this should not be a determining factor in filing an injury claim.
If you’d like to know more about how your insurance may change after a car accident, get familiar with your policy. This will give you a better understanding of your insurance agreement. You can also do some research online and see what other people have to say about similar situations.
Most insurance companies have a surcharge schedule. So unless the insurance company agrees to waive those charges when an accident is not your fault, you might see an increase in your premiums. Thankfully, this is rarely the case: In reality, insurers rarely penalize you for an accident that was not your fault.
If your insurer attempts to raise your rates due to an accident caused by another party, an insurance broker can help you find a different (and maybe better!) insurer. You could end up saving money from shopping around. At the same time while pursuing compensation to pay for your accident-related expenses.
Insurance surcharges are a different matter, however, for customers that cause accidents. Some insurance companies, such as Geico, use a sliding scale based on points. For example, if you get four points and someone filed a claim against you alleging bodily injury and property damages, the insurance will hit you with a 32 percent increase on your premiums. Geico adds 20 percent if the accident claim includes personal injury protection coverage. Your Geico premiums will increase by 25 percent if you file a claim under collision.
If you feel the surcharge that your insurance company charges is too high, or that your insurer is penalizing you for an accident that was not your fault, you can file an insurance complaint with the state of Illinois, which will then review the surcharge to ensure that it doesn’t violate public policy. More importantly, if you disagree or are unhappy with the terms your insurer offers, an insurance agent can help you evaluate different options and/or different insurers.
How to Decrease Accident Insurance Rates
Considering the scope of potential damages in a car accident (whether medical bills or auto repairs), you should make a potential increase in insurance rates the least of your worries.
That said, if your insurance went up because you filed a claim against your insurance policy—perhaps because a hit-and-run driver injured you and you couldn’t find the responsible party—you can also decrease your rates by:
- Increasing your deductible. However, keep in mind that you’ll have to pay that much more out of pocket if you file another claim against your insurance. Instead of a $500 deductible, you might increase it to $1,000 or even $2,500. You can avoid getting into a pinch if you set aside the amount of the deductible in a savings account.
- Filing as few claims as possible. If you crack your windshield, you might consider paying cash for the repair instead of filing a claim against your insurance. Pay for other small claims yourself, including dent repairs or other minor things, such as replacing a bumper.
- Shopping for a new policy. An insurance agent you trust can help with this. It’s a great way to save money.
- Bundling multiple policies can also help reduce your monthly premium rate. For example, if you have a home, car, and boat that need to be insured, consider taking advantage of one of the many bundle plans available from most major insurance carriers.
What to do After a Car Accident
After a car accident, it’s important to take certain steps so you can protect yourself. And to preserve your rights and prevent wrongful determination of liability.
If possible, you should try to do the following after you’re involved in a car accident:
- Get the other drivers’ contact information, such as their name and phone number, registration and license plate number, and insurance information.
- Ask any witnesses for their contact information. If they can, ask them to stick around until the police arrive so they can give a statement. Eyewitness testimony in police records is helpful in winning car accident cases.
- Take plenty of pictures of the accident scene, including distance and close-up photos. As time goes on, evidence can deteriorate, road repairs can be made, and damage can be cleaned up. All of this can make it difficult to see the full extent of the collision to understand what happened. By taking photos and videos with your phone immediately after an accident, you are documenting more than you probably think. Get photos of the car damage to all vehicles, the intersection or roadways, any stop signs and streetlights, and any obvious injuries. This evidence will make a major difference in your claim.
- Take your time giving your version of the accident to the police officer to make sure you provide a proper recounting. Adrenaline levels spike after you are involved in an accident. Take a second to calm down. Then outline the events of the collision with the most details possible. It’s okay if you can’t remember everything. But do your best to give the police the most accurate and detailed account you can.
- Get medical attention as soon as possible if needed. Some injuries take hours or even a couple days to manifest. Do not delay treatment. It could worsen your injuries and even damage your injury claim if you end up needing to file one. Let your attorney contact your insurance company to let them know that you were in an accident. While not recommended, you can contact them yourself and give them very basic accident information and provide your lawyer’s contact information. Even your own insurance company may try to twist your statements to place the fault on you in an attempt to deny a claim.
- Have your car accident lawyer contact the at-fault driver’s insurance company to file a claim. Never tell the at-fault driver’s insurance company anything about the accident, since you may pursue this insurance company to pay your claim. Refer them to your car accident lawyer if they contact you. Do not give a written or recorded statement.
Contact a car accident lawyer for a free consultation. Almost all injury attorneys offer a free consultation that has no obligations or risks. It’s simply an opportunity to explain your accident to a professional. And to get their opinion about your options for legal remedy. The insurance companies will have a team of lawyers working for them. And so should you. Do not be fooled by thinking an insurance company is on your side or is trying to get you the most money possible. They are not. That is what your lawyer is for.
Get in Contact with the Attorneys at Abels & Annes Today
Never let concerns about potential premium increases dissuade you from pursuing a claim. An attorney can help ensure you recover full compensation for any damages sustained in an accident. An increase in insurance expenses should not be a significant factor when evaluating the scope of a car accident claim. Always seek the counsel of a trusted attorney following a car accident.
At Abels & Annes, P.C., we routinely represent people like you who have been injured in accidents. We fight for their rights and help them get the compensation they need to rebuild their lives. We can help you too.
Let our attorneys put our decades of experience to work for you so that you can recover compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and any other losses caused by the car accident.