If you’ve been in an at-fault accident, odds are good you’ve either seen an increase in insurance rates, or you’re bracing for it. Accidents can generally affect your rates for three years, and an accident on your record will follow you to a new insurance company. That doesn’t mean you can’t find a better rate, even with that accident. A car insurance rate calculator is an important tool for anyone with an accident on his or her record.
How Do Accidents Affect Rates?
When you have an accident and are found at fault, the insurance company views you as a higher risk. Additionally, they have now paid out a claim on your behalf, and will increase your rates as a result.
If your accident results in traffic citation or a serious violation such as speeding, impaired driving, or distracted driving, that ticket or violation will also have an impact on your rates. Violations and points against your license will affect your rates independently of the accident – that means even if you aren’t at fault in the accident, if there is a citation you will pay increased rates.
The combination of a ticket and an accident will mean a pretty serious increase in rates.
The increase in rates depends on the insurance company, and on whether there are any previous tickets or accidents on your record. Some insurance companies lower the charge for an accident with each passing year.
On average, a driver with a clean record can see an increase of up to 40%, but there is a wide range of increases from 6% all the way up to 140% percent depending on the insurance company, driver’s record and history with the company, and factors related to the accident.
What About Accident Forgiveness?
Some insurance companies offer a perk called Accident Forgiveness, which is meant to allow your first accident without any increase in your insurance rates. In most cases, this adds an extra cost to your insurance policy.
Two of the most important things to know about Accident Forgiveness are that it doesn’t always apply, and that it doesn’t follow you to another insurance company.
Accident Forgiveness may not apply in certain accidents, such as those involving criminal charges, depending on the rules set out by the insurance company.
If you have an accident on your record for which you are found at fault, that accident will be on your driving record. If you take a policy with a different insurance company, you can and will be charged a higher rate as a result, as you can’t transfer Accident Forgiveness from company to company.
Accidents and Fault
Whether or not you will be charged in an accident depends on who is found at fault after the accident. Insurance companies determine fault, although in Ontario all insurance companies have to follow a set of fault rules that outline who is at fault in the most common accident scenarios.
Fault is not always 100%; in some cases the driver may be found partially at fault in an accident, and that can impact how much the driver’s insurance rates will go up if at all.
One of the most important things to remember at the scene of an accident is never to admit fault; it’s always best to leave it to the insurance companies to make that determination.
If you disagree with a fault determination, you have the right to appeal it with the insurance company.
What You Should Do After An Accident
In addition to leaving the fault determination to the insurance companies, there are a few other things you should do at the scene of an accident to help the insurance company and yourself.
Of course, injuries at the scene of an accident are the first priority; if necessary, call for medical help as soon as possible. If anyone is injured, you are required to call the police. Each province has its own rules for when the police must be called after an accident; generally there is a minimal amount of damage in addition to injuries.
Taking photographs at the scene and gathering contact information for any witnesses to the accident can help the insurance company to decide who is at fault – this could help to turn things in your favour.
Shopping For Car Insurance With an Accident
Car insurance rates vary greatly from company to company, and that applies no matter what is on your record. With an accident you can still use a car insurance calculator to shop around and find a better rate.
As mentioned previously, don’t forget that Accident Forgiveness won’t follow you. That doesn’t mean you can’t still get a better rate – it’s entirely possible another company will offer you a better deal even with that accident on your record.
When shopping for insurance, make sure you are honest about your accident. Leaving that information out will lead to a falsely low quote, and you will find yourself in for a surprise when the company does take a look at your record and increases the premium as a result.