What To Know Before Filing an Auto Insurance Claim
When you are involved in an auto accident and you have to file a claim, you may see your auto insurance rates change. Some drivers don't anticipate these kinds of changes to their policies and others may be entirely confused about whether changes will occur. While auto insurance companies draw up their own rules on policy premium fluctuations, there are some industry standards that can help drivers get a better understanding of what to expect.
It Wasn’t My Fault
Most auto insurance companies agree that rates shouldn’t go up for drivers who were not at fault in an accident. However, depending on the accident specifics, the state and the insurance companies practices, you could find yourself paying for something you didn’t cause. One thing to note is whether your state of residence has a traditional auto insurance system or a more sophisticated system involving comparative fault. While some states insurance systems simply indentify a primary at fault driver, others try to assign a portion of the blame to multiple drivers in an accident. In fact, experts point out that an insurance company’s claims adjuster is often one of the parties involved in assessing fault. In turn, this means that the “portion of fault” may go directly into your insurer’s computer which can lead to your premium being recalculated.
Unless a driver has “accident forgiveness” written into their auto insurance contract, rate hikes are inevitable. Actual accident forgiveness, a relatively new offering by insurers and is hard to get. For the most part this preferential treatment is restricted to members who have zero accidents on their driving record and are considered “preferred customers” either because they have been with the insurer for a number of years or because they have paid extra for a plan upgrade. Unfortunately, this perk can be stripped away after more than one at-fault accident and the insured will receive the same rate increases as regular customers.
Level of Damage
One unclear aspect of accidents for drivers is whether an accident is “substantial” enough to generate insurance rate hikes. Usually, small fender benders resulting in minor damage with no bodily injuries will not increase rates. However, no matter how small the accident most insurance companies require that the accident be reported. Many times with fender benders, insurance companies will excuse the accident and refrain from raising rates. In the event that each driver in the accident opts to walk away from it without reporting it to the authorities, any and all damage done to ones car is each individual owners responsibility. A good rule of thumb to go by is, unless the damage caused by the minor accident is obviously less than your deductible, it is best to report the accident to the police and your insurance company immediately.
Delayed Rate Hikes
In some cases, if an accident occurs right before the re-up time, the customer will see a new bill that doesn’t include a rate increase and think that he or she is safe from future hikes. These drivers may be unpleasantly surprised when they see a big increase in their next bill. This happens when drivers choose long-term lump sum payments, either annual or semi-annual billing schedules, for their policies. Drivers can be more informed on how an accident will impact their rates by asking their insurance company rep the following questions:
Was my accident “bad enough” to increase my rates and by how much?
Do I qualify for accident forgiveness or other similar perks on my policy?
What evidence do I need to provide to prove that an accident was not my fault?
If there was a rate increase, when will it show up on my bill?
Cheap Auto Insurance
Preventing you from allocating your money the way you want to,auto insurancemight be one of your largest monthly costs, but it doesn't have to be. Whether you're young or old, male or female, a good driver or a bad driver: you too can have access to the cheapest auto insurance available. The car insurance industry is overflowing with providers who want your business. There are a number of insurance policies / types of coverage that are required in certain states, however, there are a number of optional coverage policies that can be skipped if you are struggling to afford your monthly payments.
One of the major factors that affects the cost of your auto insurance company is the location in which you seek coverage. Auto insurance in Los Angeles is going to cost extremely more than auto insurance in Phoenix due to the fact that Los Angeles is a major metropolitan city with high traffic volumes and high crime rates. Your car is therefore more at risk in Los Angeles than it is in Phoenix, so you will be required to pay a higher premium. If having cheap car insurance is a major priority for you financially, you should consider relocating to a more rural location where costs will be minimal.
Another way to benefit from cheap auto insurance is by comparing all available providers within your area. The car insurance industry is thriving, and so there exists a large supply of insurance vendors looking to benefit from the demand. If you are serious about finding a cheap rate, then you should consider getting an independent insurance agent to work for you. Since independent agents are not tied to any one insurance provider, they will be able to shop around to find the best available policy to fit your needs.
Other ways in which to get cheap auto insurance are as follows:
Higher deductible: If you can afford it, then a higher deductible could save you a great deal on your premiums.
Security Measures: Lower rates can be achieved through making your car safer & more secure. This includes the addition of a car alarm, theft protection device, air bags, carports, etc.
Occupation: If you have an occupation that requires you to travel a great deal, your insurance rates will be higher. You might be able to balance out higher premiums by receiving a larger tax return, but you should consult the IRS beforehand.
Use our site to search through all the available providers, so that you can find the most affordable premiums around.