Whether you miss that speed bump or collide with another car, by definition, accidents are never intentional. But unintentional doesn’t mean “not responsible”. And in some circumstances, a collision can result in higher insurance premiums.
Someone is to blame
In the eyes of insurance companies, there is always someone at fault in a car accident — even if there was nothing you could have done to prevent it and the police haven’t charged you with an offence.
- If you’re the sole driver, you are automatically at fault if you file a claim with your insurance company.
- If you are in a collision with another driver, the question of fault can get tricky. If the police are called, they will usually determine who is at fault based on regional rules of the road. Sometimes the decision is cut and dry.
- If you rear-end someone, you’re at fault.
- If you make a lane change and sideswipe someone in your blind spot, you’re at fault.
- On occasion, it may take time and further police and/or insurer investigation to determine who ultimately caused the accident.
When you’re at fault
If you have an at-fault accident on your record, it stays with you for 6 to 10 years. Since your insurance premiums may be affected, you could be paying for that accident for years until it is off your record and your rate decreases.
Accident forgiveness (not forget-ness) may apply
Most insurance companies offer a service known as accident forgiveness.
- Forgiven — If you have been with the company for a specified amount of time and you have a clean driving record (meaning you have no accidents or tickets), then you may qualify to have your first at-fault accident “forgiven”. This means your rate may only go up by a small amount.
- But not forgotten — If you have a second accident, expect to pay the price.
How your insurance company can help
Even if an accident is the cause of an increase in your insurance premiums, your insurance company will work with you to help keep your premiums manageable. Ask about discounts you may be eligible for and smart tips on reducing your premium.