Car accidents are pretty bad in themselves. However, many drivers involved in an accident also worry that they will be hit with higher car insurance rates in the coming years following the accident.
A new study appears to validate those concerns. The report finds that drivers who make a single claim end up paying an average of 41 percent more for car insurance.
The study aims to reach one of the great mysteries for drivers. Will my insurance rates increase after an accident? Insurance companies rarely give concrete answers to the question, as they use many factors that determine a rate increase, including a person’s driving history, who was at fault in the accident, and the severity of the accident.
For their study, the researchers decided to see how fares changed for a hypothetical 45-year-old driver, who is married, has a job and has an excellent credit score. The driver has never had a lapse in coverage or filed any prior auto insurance claims.
He might seem like a good customer for an insurance company, but that didn’t stop insurers from raising their rates. The researchers looked at how the subject’s annual premiums might change after filing three different lawsuits: bodily injury, property damage, and a comprehensive claim. The latter covers damage to a car that is not caused by an accident, including hail, flooding, and theft.
Overall, the study found that drivers who make a single demand for $2,000 or more can expect their premiums to increase by 41 percent. This translates to a $335 increase for the average premium of $815 per year. For unfortunate souls who make two demands in a year, the increase jumps to 93 percent.
What if the accident wasn’t your fault?
Then their payments shouldn’t be affected, investigators said.
The amount of a premium increase varies from state to state. States with stricter insurance regulations tend to have larger rate spikes after an accident. Consider the case of California, which passed a law mandating that insurance premiums be based on only three things: driving safety record, miles driven per year, and years of driving experience. A car accident only involves one of those factors – driving record – making insurers have little else to follow to determine rates.
Although there is a light at the end of the tunnel in all this. These premium increases are not permanent. They typically last three to five years, after which prices will begin to fall to pre-claim levels.