Car accidents can happen to anyone–even the best drivers. In fact, rarely does anyone set out to intentionally cause a collision or make a driving error that results in injury or damage to their vehicle or someone else’s. Accident or not, however, someone is responsible for the damages, and if that someone is you, your insurance premiums will likely increase.
The Blame Game of Car Accidents
When an accident occurs, your insurance company is assigned the task of pointing the finger at someone. Even if there was no way for you to avoid the accident and the police did not charge you for a traffic violation, your insurance company may find that you are at fault.
You are automatically at fault if:
- You are the only driver
- You rear-end another vehicle
- You change lanes and hit someone in your blind spot
Assigning fault can be tricky when other drivers are involved. Typically, if the police arrive, they will determine fault according to local traffic rules. Sometimes, further investigation must be conducted by the police or your insurance company to discover the cause of an accident and determine who is responsible.
What Happens When an Accident is Your Fault?
An at-fault accident is recorded on your driving record for 6 to 10 years. Insurance companies use your driving record to determine the amount of your premiums, which means you could pay for an at-fault accident for as long as it appears on your driving record.
Can Accident Forgiveness Help?
Many auto insurers now offer a policy called accident forgiveness to drivers who have a clean driving record and have been with their insurance company for a certain period of time. The name is a little misleading because the benefit is structured to forgive, not forget.
It Will Forgive—the benefit forgives your first at-fault accident, which means your premium may only increase slightly.
It Won’t Forget—a second at-fault accident will count against you and your premium may increase based on two at-fault accidents.
Am I Stuck With High Premiums?
If an at-fault accident causes your premiums to increase, your insurance company may work with you to help make them more affordable. Talk to your insurance broker to see if you are eligible for discounts that will reduce the amount you have to pay.