Owning a car comes with plenty of perks. But you do have to deal with car accidents, even if they’re minor ones. Fender benders are inevitable, and they could affect your car insurance rates in the future. Here’s how.
Car accidents are an unavoidable aspect of the driving experience. Fortunately, almost all states in the country require drivers to carry car insurance. Car insurance can protect your finances and cover the cost of damages in the event of a fender bender. Unfortunately, your car insurance quotes will almost certainly rise after filing a claim for a fender bender.
If you’ve had a “chargeable” accident, you could expect your car insurance rates to shoot up. But what is a chargeable accident?
A chargeable accident often refers to an accident in which you were more than 50% at fault and resulted in property damage, such as a collision with another car or a fence, and death or bodily harm.
Some states may define a chargeable accident in monetary terms. In Minnesota, for example, a chargeable accident is one in which the car insurance company pays more than $500 under bodily injury liability or property damage policy, with some limitations.
How much does my car insurance rate go up after a fender bender?
Minor fender benders are surcharged the same amount whether the damage is $200 or $2000. If your premium is currently $1500 per year, you could expect it to rise to $2062 per year.
Depending on your provider, the new rate will be in place for three to five years. However, if you’re in a minor accident and the claim amount is less than or equal to your deductible, you may prefer to pay out of pocket because the rate increase means you’ll be paying out of pocket either way.
Read: What is a deductible in car insurance?
Types of accidents that may not result in insurance rate hikes
Fortunately, not all accidents lead to a significant hike in car insurance premiums. If the fender bender occurs when a moving vehicle hits your legally parked car, your car insurance rates will not increase. Additionally, car insurance companies cannot hike your rates if you had a fender bender in a hit-and-run incident or your car gets rear-ended but you do not get charged for a moving traffic violation related to the incident.
To prove that you were not at fault, your insurance company may need you to provide a police report of the incident. You could also submit a written statement from the other driver claiming fault to avoid a rate increase. It will also help to ask the other driver’s insurance carrier to write a statement accepting fault for the fender bender.
Read: How to file a car insurance claim after an accident?
How does my insurance company find out that I’ve had a fender bender?
Car insurance companies check your motor vehicle record (MVR) when you apply for a new policy and at renewal time each year. Accidents reported to the state will be included in your MVR. For example, if the police filed a report about a fender bender you had, they will include it in the MVR.
In some jurisdictions, such as New York, you MUST file an accident report with the DMV if there is more than $1,000 in damage or if someone is injured.
Your MVR may also comprise the following data:
- Convictions for traffic violations
- Convictions in court.
- Suspension and revocation of a driver’s license.
- Dates for license restoration
- Status of car insurance.
- Requirements for ignition interlock.
Read: How to provide first-aid safely after an accident
What is accident forgiveness, and how does it work?
If your policy contains accident forgiveness, and you cause a car accident, your insurer will “forgive” you and not raise your rates. Accident forgiveness is generally an added extra, but one that’s worth having.
Unfortunately, accident forgiveness is not available from all car insurance companies. Some states, such as California, do not permit it either. Besides, accident forgiveness is typically limited to one accident per policy rather than one accident per driver.
However, even if the accident is “forgiven,” it remains on your driving record. This means other insurance companies can view your driving record, which may affect your rates if you decide to switch insurers.
How to get affordable car insurance after a fender bender?
If your insurance rates are about to rise as a result of a recent accident, or if you’re currently paying a higher premium, you can try the following to get a good deal.
Inquire about possible discounts: Insurance companies provide a variety of discounts that you may be eligible for, even if you have been in an accident. Many insurance companies offer discounts when their customers take an approved defensive driving course. You could also save money by using your provider’s autopay tool or paying your payment in full.
Drive more cautiously: Avoiding more accidents is one of the best things you can do to fix your driving record and strengthen your relationship with your insurance carrier.
Find a different insurance provider: Although your new insurance carrier will take your recent accident into account when determining your rates, they may still be able to offer you a reduced rate.
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When should I not file a claim?
It is good practice to let your car insurance provider know about any accidents you’ve had. However, there are some instances where not filing a claim could be beneficial.
If the cost of repairing the damage to your car is less than your deductible, it might be best not to file a claim. Consider paying out of pocket if the estimate of the repair isn’t too high.
Had a collision with another driver? Is the damage minor? You may be able to make an arrangement with the other driver not to involve your insurance providers. However, keep in mind that the other driver may change their mind later, especially if they begin to feel physical pain or the expense of repairing the fender bender exceeds their deductible.
If you’ve filed multiple claims, not filing one for a minor fender bender could save you from higher insurance premiums. Consider fixing the car out of pocket if you’re confident that the damage is minor.
Now that you know how a fender bender can affect your insurance costs, you can make wiser judgments about whether or not to submit a claim to avoid a rate increase. Good luck!
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