Here in Wisconsin, we are gearing up for the arrival of the holiday season and Old Man Winter. There is little doubt that the days ahead will bring congested roads, poor visibility, and some dangerous driving conditions. Though we hope all of the drivers within our community will stay safe in the coming weeks and months, we also know that accidents happen. So what can you expect if you find yourself in a fender bender? Should you expect your rates to rise? Continue reading to find out how car insurance agencies handle accidents and what you should expect in the process.
When you file a claim, your insurance company will begin investigating the accident to determine who was at fault in the collision. Obviously, you will be found at fault if you are the only driver involved in the accident. Likewise, if you were parked and hit by another driver, they may find you to not be at fault at all. Things get tricky, however, when fault is split between two or more drivers.
To determine which party contributed to the accident and by how much, your insurance company will conduct an investigation where they will look at the evidence provided to them. For this reason, it is important to gather as much information as possible about the accident when it occurs. If you can provide indisputable proof that you were not at fault through pictures, witnesses, and police reports.
Rate Increases after an Accident
Every insurance company has its own formula for determining how much to charge for coverage. Your independent insurance agent will have an understanding of how an accident might affect your rates. Some insurers may overlook a small fender bender if you have an otherwise clean driving record. Others may raise rates based on the total cost of your claim and whether there were any injuries as a result of the accident.
When to File a Claim
You should always contact your car insurance agency right away to report any car accident involving another driver or passenger. According to Consumer Reports, those accidents represent about 7 in 10 collisions. Injuries and liability claims can pop up several days after an accident. In addition, a vehicle may that does not appear to be severely damaged could actually be hiding thousands of dollars worth of damages in need of repair. If you fail to report the accident in a timely way, you could void some important protections inside your policy.
If you find yourself in a one-vehicle accident that only involves yourself, the decision whether or not to file a claim is up to you. Low-speed collisions, such as driveway accidents, might leave little more than a few scratches in your paint or a dinged bumper that could be fixed for less than the cost of your deductible. If your estimated damages are less than or little more than the cost of your deductible, avoiding the claim could save you money in increased premiums.
Of course, there is no way to know exactly how an accident will affect your rates. Always consult with your agent if you have questions about your coverage and how an accident claim might affect your insurance in the future.