Chelsey Tucker graduated with a Bachelor of History degree from Metropolitan State University in 2019. She now writes about insurance with her specialty being life insurance and has been quoted on Help Smart Phone and MEL Magazine.

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com.

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Mar 19, 2020

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The lowdown...

  • When you have an accident and you file a claim, your policy is only affected if the accident is at fault
  • Claims adjusters will investigate the events leading to the loss to allocate fault and determine the at-fault driver
  • It’s not until the next renewal that the company will either change your rates or non-renew your policy
  • If you’re non-renewed because of an at-fault accident, you’ll have to shop for insurance elsewhere before your renewal
  • At-fault accidents can affect your eligibility for preferred rates and standard rates with some insurance carriers

A car accident can affect your whole entire life. When you’re in a serious crash, you and your loved ones could be injured and left to travel down a long road to recovery.

If you’re lucky enough to walk away from the accident without serious injuries, you’ll still have to go without a car until your vehicle is repaired or even worse replaced. This affects your ability to do the normal things in life.

Accidents don’t only leave you without a car, they can also leave you without car insurance depending on your record and who’s at fault for the incident.

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Even though claims can affect whether or not you’re eligible for your existing coverage, you’ll still be able to buy insurance through a carrier. Here’s what you need to know:

Do all auto accidents affect your car insurance policy standing?

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You can’t always avoid filing an insurance claim. No one wants to have to worry about rate increases and policy cancellations, but these aren’t the definite outcomes for all claims.

When you have an auto accident and you contact your insurer, the cause of the accident will be investigated.

It is what is determined when a claim is investigated and the fault is allocated that will help decide if an accident will affect your insurance standing.

When you’re at-fault for the loss or you have several non-fault accidents in a short period of time, the claim could lead to a policy non-renewal but not a mid-term cancellation.

In the insurance industry, fault allocation means how much your actions contributed to the cause of the damages or the injuries that were sustained in the loss that you’re filing a claim for.

To be completely not to blame for a loss, you’d have to be sitting at a stop light or in your parked car and someone would have to run into your vehicle.

In most cases, each party who is driving a vehicle is partial to blame for a loss when it happens. Even when someone is hit from behind or sideswiped, they could have driven a bit more defensively to avoid the outcome.

This is why the at-fault driver is the one who is 51 percent or more to blame for the loss. Anyone less than 50 percent to blame is considered a non-fault driver even though their actions did contribute.

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What happens after you have an at-fault accident?

If you’re more than 50 percent to blame for the incident, you do have to worry about how the claim is going to affect your policy.

It’s not going to complete eliminate you from being eligible for coverage unless the person driving the car was excluded from your policy and you’re in violation of your contract.

After the claim has been fully investigated, settled, and closed, it can then have an effect on your renewal.

If you have several other at-fault accidents, tickets, or a combination of tickets and accidents, this new at-fault accident surcharge could make you ineligible for a renewal.

When you’re not eligible, you’ll get a notice of non-renewal.

If you’re still offered the option to keep your coverage with the company you’re currently insured through then you’ll still be assessed a claims surcharge on your policy.

The claim surcharge is an increase that’s included in your premiums because you’ve had an accident and your risk class has changed.

When you’re not to blame for an accident you won’t be assessed a mandatory surcharge. While there won’t be a surcharge, having three or more non-fault accidents within a period of three years can definitely affect your rates.

Not in the form of a surcharge but in the form of a change in your rate class. You’ll either go from a preferred risk to a standard risk or from a standard risk to a high risk.

How much will your coverage be surcharged?

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If a surcharge is added to your policy, it could be anywhere from 10 percent of your premiums to as much as 100 percent of your premiums. It all depends on the rating factors on your policy and if you’ve had other losses.

Here are some of the factors that can affect what your accident surcharge is:

  • The state that you live in
  • The company that you’re insured with
  • If you have any accidents on your record
  • If you have any tickets on your record
  • Your age and gender
  • Your years of driving experience
  • The type of vehicle that you drive
  • Discounts for driving training or Good Driver

If the company decides not to extend their relationship with you at your renewal, you’ll get a notice for non-renewal about 30 days before the term ends.

The letter will say why your policy is ending and if there are any steps that you can take. If you just aren’t eligible for coverage based on the underwriting guidelines, you’ll have to shop elsewhere.

Is there ever a time where you can’t get insurance?

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Just because one policy ends doesn’t mean other carriers won’t insure you. You just have to look for coverage from a company that accepts higher risk drivers.

If no high-risk insurers will offer you coverage, you should look for a program through the state that is guaranteed to offer insurance to any licensed driver.

Shopping for the best rates after an accident is crucial. Since you will have to pay higher rates for having the blemish on your record, you need to compare premiums from carrier to carrier.

Use an online quote comparison tool to do thorough comparisons and then you’ll be able to secure the best coverage at a competitive price. Begin your search right now by entering your zip code below.