Not-At-Fault Claim and Insurance Rate Increases
You’re driving home from work one day, paying close attention to the road ahead and the drivers around you, when suddenly a man or woman that paying more attention to their cell phone conversation runs a stop sign and rams into the side of your vehicle.
Thankfully, neither you or the other driver are hurt -- but your vehicle certainly is. You have good car insurance and know that you’re not at fault, so you carefully document the damage, exchange information with the other driver, and file a police report. However, when you call to tell your friend about the accident, they caution you to think twice about filing a claim with your car insurance, claiming that your rates could increase. Are they correct?
It is amazing the number of things which can affect your car insurance rate. Filing at-fault claims are almost always a surefire way to raise your insurance rates. It might seem like a no-brainer that a not-at-fault claim should not raise your rate, but that is not always the case.
The Good News About Not-At-Fault Claims
In most U.S. states, not-at-fault claims are filed against the at-fault vehicle insurance policy (MI residents check here). If you are able to file against the at-fault party, you really do not need to worry about your rates going up. If you do need to file against your own policy, many insurance carriers still do not surcharge for not-at-fault claims. Potentially you could see a surcharge if you file three or more of them within a three-year period.
The Bad News About Not-At-Fault Claims
Let’s say that in the above scenario, instead of calmly exchanging information with you, the other driver had fled the scene. Filing a claim against your own insurance for a hit-and-run accident can be frustrating on its own. Unfortunately, some insurance carriers do surcharge if you file a not-at-fault claim. Insurance carriers are getting very strict when it comes to claims. A not-at-fault claim would come with a smaller surcharge than an at-fault claim -- but even a small increase is not good.
Theoretically, raising rates for all claims filed would reduce the rates of those drivers with zero claims filed.
What You Can Do About It
If you are currently filing a not-at-fault claim and your insurance carrier surcharges, it would probably benefit you to start shopping for a new carrier. Surcharges are applied on your insurance renewal date, so you have some time between filing and actually paying for the surcharge.
Asking a potential insurance company whether they surcharge for a not-at-fault accident is a great question to ask when you are getting a quote. It could make you choose a quote which is a little higher priced over a cheaper one which does surcharge. Think about it. Do you want to worry every time you want to file a claim, “how much is my insurance going to go up?”