How Much Does Car Insurance Go Up After an Accident

Many auto insurance premiums seem very high today, but particularly worrisome to drivers are the effects an accident can have on their monthly payments. Most people have not familiarized themselves with their insurance carrier's policies, and that can translate into serious anxiety, especially if a wreck actually occurs. Talk to your agent about your policy for specifics, but here are few general principles that most companies abide by.

First of all, if you were not at fault in the accident, you need not worry about a rate hike. Most companies will not raise premiums for drivers not cited as at-fault in the police report, or who had an accident as a result of road debris or other extenuating circumstances. Also, accidents without human injury and only involving several hundred dollars' worth of damages will not likely raise your premiums. Your insurance company will investigate the details of your situation to determine if a good driver under reasonable circumstances would have gotten into the same accident. If so, you're clear. That is, unless you are involved in an unusually high number of incidents in a short amount of time.

If you are at fault, rates may rise moderately or dramatically, depending on the severity of the accident. If significant property damage occurred, your premiums-regardless of type-could rise anywhere from 10% to 30%. Premiums may go even higher if there was human injury. In this case, you could see your premiums go up even 50%. Even more dramatic increases occur as you get into repeat accidents or those that involve illegal use of controlled substances. Complications like DUIs can mark you as an extremely high risk driver to your insurance company, so it can easily double your rate under certain circumstances.

If you are repeatedly involved in severe accidents over a period of time, your insurance carrier may eventually deny you service or refuse a renewal. When this occurs, most other insurance companies will also not grant you a policy without a dramatic increase over regular premiums. Consistently reckless behavior on the road has left some drivers practically uninsurable.

Note also some backdoor rate increases used by some companies. An accident may also negate some common discounts, like those for good drivers or those with unblemished histories. Losing these discounts can and will result in de facto rate increases above the stated penalty.