Getting into a car accident is a frightening experience for everyone involved. Whether or not you are at fault, your priority should be to make sure everyone is alright. If anyone needs medical attention, that needs to be taken care of first. Even if you think you’re ok, it might be prudent to be evaluated by a physician before doing anything else.
Once you are confident that everyone is okay or taken care of, contact an attorney. You will also need to contact your insurance company right away, but reaching an attorney is important because they can help you deal with your insurance company or the other driver’s’ insurance companies as soon as possible.
After the accident, you will need to evaluate your insurance. It is entirely possible that whether or not the accident was your fault, your rates will go up. There are a variety of reasons why this can happen.
1. The accident was your fault
This might seem obvious, but if the accident was your fault, whether, through negligent driving or even an unforeseen circumstance (such as a medical issue while driving), your insurance company would likely raise your rates. You will now be seen as more of a risk to the insurance company so that they will want more money from you in return.
2. Someone else was driving your car
If someone else is driving your car and gets into an accident or does something else for which you would like to make a claim (like scratches the paint), you will likely be subject to a rate hike. Since it is your policy that will be shelling out for the repairs, you will be subject to any surcharges or rate increases.
3. You damaged your car
Even a one-car accident, whether or not you did something negligent, can result in higher insurance rates. For example, if there was black ice on the road and you slid into a tree, you may still be subject to an increase in your insurance if you made a claim.
4. Minor accidents can result in increases
Let’s say you’re in a parking lot, for example, and another car taps your car resulting in minor damage. Maybe you and the other driver agreed to take care of it without dealing with insurance companies and come to a verbal agreement. You exchange information, and all seems well until you get a notice from the insurance company that your rates are going up because a claim was made. The other driver claimed that the accident was your fault and because you don’t have anything in writing, you can’t contest the claim. Contact an attorney in this case and always get agreements in writing.
5. The accident was someone else’s fault
Yes, your rates can go up even if the accident is deemed to be someone else’s fault. An insurance adjuster could assert that you could have avoided the disaster and the result might be that your rates go up.
In most cases, it is beneficial to contact an attorney to make sure your best interests are being kept in mind. Rate hikes can happen, but if you stay on top of your insurance company and any claims, you should be able to avoid outrageous prices.