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Accident Was My Fault

When you are involved in a car accident, there are many issues to consider. Most importantly, of course, you need to ascertain whether you or any other parties have been injured. If there is no injury to anyone involved, your next concern will be for the vehicles. When there is injury to a person, or damage to a vehicle as a result of an accident, the issue of responsibility will immediately arise.

If it is clear that you are at fault, you will now have more matters to consider, including whether this will result in an increase to the cost of your car auto premium. In the United States this is not a clear cut issue, as there is no national standardized procedure for determining whether a car insurance company can raise the premium cost for a client involved in an at-fault accident. There are different laws in different states. At one stage some car insurance companies used to raise premium rates for clients involved in accidents even when they were not at-fault, but in many states there has been sufficient opposition to this practice to result in changes to the law. For drivers involved in accidents where they are at fault, however, a rate rise is a strong possibility. Drivers who face a rise in insurance rates for this reason, as well as those who are shopping around for rates, will benefit from understanding the way in which at-fault claims are handled by insurance companies.

When you are shopping for new auto insurance you should ask if the company offers an "Accident Forgiveness" program. Under such a program, an auto insurance company may elect not to increase the premium after a person's first at-fault accident if there is evidence that the driver involved has had a good driving record up to that point. While the cost of an Accident Forgiveness program may be a little higher than some other types, you could find it worth while if you have an accident. Even if the company you are considering does not offer an Accident Forgiveness program, you should ascertain whether it is likely to increase its rates when a driver is at fault in an accident. It also helps to know if an insurance company will be influenced by the level of severity of an accident. If you are at fault but there is little damage, your insurance premium may not increase, but it may rise if you are at fault in an accident resulting in expensive medical costs or vehicle repairs.

Whether or not you are named as the at-fault driver in a police report on an accident, you should also be aware that the insurance company is not legally obliged to accept this conclusion. The insurance company can conduct its own inquiry into the accident to decide who is at fault. Such an investigation is usually carried out according to the law of the state in which the accident has occurred.

Even if the cost of your insurance premium increases after you have an accident for which you are at fault, this increase should not be maintained indefinitely. The insurance company has the right to raise the rates of an at-fault driver only for a certain number of years. The number of years for which a company can impose this type of financial penalty by increasing the insurance rate is not the same in all states. Therefore, when you are planning to buy car insurance, or if you have already had your rate increased because of an at-fault accident, you may find it helpful to acquaint yourself with the law of the relevant state to find out how long the insurance company is legally allowed to keep applying the higher rate. In this way, even if you have to pay an increased rate for some time because of being at fault for an accident, you will know that this higher rate will not apply for ever. This knowledge also makes you aware of when the time for those increased rates should expire, and alerts you to make sure that the company does not continue to impose the extra cost beyond this time.

While a driver who has had one at-fault accident will not necessarily have to pay a higher premium, such as in the case where an Accident Forgiveness program applies, a second at-fault accident usually makes a car insurance premium increase a certainty. This increase will be even more likely to occur if your first and second at-fault accidents happen within a short space of time. While driving should always involve care and attention it is at such times that you should be even more careful, because if you have three at-fault accidents within a few years you could be at risk of being refused any car insurance cover at all by your company.