If you cause a vehicle accident, then it’s to be expected that your insurance will be more expensive when your next premium is due, or you’ll pay more when you look for a new car insurance policy. However, when you were not the at-fault driver, then it seems like it wouldn’t make sense that you would be hit with higher insurance premiums. Unfortunately, not-at-fault accidents can still affect how much you pay for car insurance and increase your premiums.
What are surcharges and no-claims bonuses?
If you have an at-fault accident, a car insurance company may add a surcharge for a period of time and you will lose all or part of your no-claims bonus. The timeframe depends on various limitations, such as your geographic location and your driving history.
If you are in the UK and you have a query about your insurance company, you could speak to the insurance ombudsman, or if you are in the USA, you will want to speak with a car crash lawyer in your state if you have any questions about your accident, and making sure the liable party is the one who pays.
When an accident does not increase your premium
There are times when vehicle accidents do not affect your insurance premium. These are cases where you have no fault in the accident, such as when your car is legally parked when it is hit, another driver didn’t give you right-of-way when they should have, or the vehicle damage was caused by an ‘Act of God’ such as a falling tree.
When an accident increases your premium
However, there are some cases when being the not-at-fault driver still means that you will be hit with a higher premium. Usually, when an accident occurs, a claim is filed with the at-fault driver’s car insurance company, but if it’s not possible to locate the responsible party, the victim claims on their own insurance. For example, in a hit-and-run scenario, you have no way to file a claim with that driver’s car insurance company because they fled the scene before you could get that information from them.
Even though a claim wasn’t your fault, car insurance companies are focused on risk and see that. So the more claims you have, regardless of who is at fault, the more you are perceived to be a higher risk to insure.
Another factor that can increase your car insurance premium is your driving history. If you have a history of getting into fender-benders, then those may affect your rate. However, if you have gone many years without any accidents or moving violations, then your insurance company will gradually increase your no-claims bonus, sometimes up to a maximum of 75%.
Proving that you’re not at fault
In order to prove that you were not at fault, you will need to provide evidence. The typical types of evidence submitted for these kinds of cases include:
- The police report: if you did not receive one at the scene of the accident then you will need to request one from your local police station
- A statement from the other driver or their insurance company accepting fault
- If the driver admits in a written statement that they are at fault.
What to do after an accident
There are some important things that you can do after a car accident to help you limit your liability and to obey the law.
First, it cannot be stressed enough that the side of the road is not a courthouse. When your adrenaline is pumping and tensions are high, it’s important to stay calm. That is not the place where you should be making comments about the other driver, or in any way trying to assert any sort of opinion about the accident. Your roadside decorum may be noted in the police report if you are extremely belligerent, admit fault, or say or do anything else that you really don’t need to do. Just answer the questions the police officer asks you, such as your name and what you recall happening, exchange information with the other driver, and remain calm. Your lawyer cannot do much if at the scene of the accident you said or did things that harmed your case before it ever made its way in front of a judge. If the other driver is trying to upset you or confront you, then calmly stay in your car or in a safe place.
If someone has been injured, call 999 and ask for an ambulance. Even if you did not cause the accident, you should still check on the other drivers and any passengers in their vehicle, as well as any pedestrians, and others that were affected. You must report any accident causing damage or injury within 24 hours if you don’t give your details at the time of the accident and you must also report it to your insurance company, even if you’re not planning on claiming.
Take pictures of the scene of the accident, and from multiple angles. You want to get as many different pictures from different angles as possible to really tell what happened. It’s best to get images that include the number plates of the vehicles involved, especially if they’re similar vehicles. This helps to differentiate easily between the vehicles involved. You also want to capture images of any road debris or obstacles that contributed to your accident, such as a large tree or bush that is obstructing a street sign. Additionally, take pictures of your injuries and continue to take pictures as you heal so you can provide evidence of your recovery and the time it is taken. You can also take video footage if you are capable of walking around.
Hiring a personal car accident or personal injury lawyer is a good idea to help you get the compensation you deserve.