Do My Insurance Rates Increase After a Car Accident in California?

by cjadmin | June 10th, 2024

If you were recently injured in a car accident, you might be dealing with more than just vehicle repairs. Medical bills and lost wages can also strain your finances, and there’s the added worry about how the accident might affect your insurance premiums.

Knowing the factors that lead to rate increases and understanding California-specific rules can help you anticipate what’s coming. By taking a proactive stance, you might even be able to reduce the impact on your premiums after an accident.

What Causes Insurance Rate Increases?

Insurance companies often consider increasing the premiums for the involved drivers when an auto accident occurs. Insurers usually take into account the following elements when adjusting premiums post-accident:

  • Fault Determination: Insurance companies assess who is at fault in an accident to determine rate adjustments. If you are found responsible, your premiums will likely rise as you present a greater risk of future claims that could cost the insurer money.
  • Extent of Damage: The extent of damage and the associated repair costs can influence how much your rates might go up. More significant claims resulting from extensive damage often lead to higher premiums as they represent a larger financial liability for the insurer.
  • Previous Driving History: Insurers evaluate your driving history to gauge future risk. If you have a record of prior accidents or violations, another incident may indicate a recurring pattern, prompting insurers to raise your rates to counterbalance the perceived heightened risk.

Factors Influencing Rate Changes in California

In California, regulations dictate how insurance companies can modify rates following an accident, especially concerning incidents where the fault is determined.

Here’s a closer look at how these rules are implemented:

  • California’s Proposition 103: Prop 103, passed in California in 1988, requires that auto insurance rates be primarily based on factors such as your driving safety record, annual mileage, and driving experience.
  • Role of At-Fault Accidents: In California, being found at fault in an accident can affect your insurance rates. The state allows insurers to increase premiums for drivers liable for a crash, reflecting the higher risk and potential costs to the insurer.
  • Good Driver Discount: California insurance law mandates insurers offer Good Driver discounts for those licensed for at least three years and have no more than one point on their driving record. This discount must be at least 20%.
  • Annual Reporting and Justification: In California, insurers must submit their rate changes and justifications to the California Department of Insurance. This requirement ensures that rate increases comply with state laws and are grounded in permissible factors such as driving records and claim history.

Minimizing the Impact of a Crash on Your Insurance

You can take several steps to lessen the effect of a collision on your insurance premiums. These measures can help you secure the best coverage and rates, minimizing any increases after an accident:

  • Safe Driving Practices: Drive safely by following traffic rules and consider enrolling in a safe driving course. Learning to navigate the roads more cautiously can lower your risk of accidents, helping prevent increases in your insurance premiums.
  • Shop Around for Insurance: When choosing auto insurance, compare insurance options from different providers. You may be able to find low-cost insurance or a policy that offers benefits like not increasing your rates after the first accident.
  • Understand Coverages: Familiarize yourself with the details of your insurance policy, including coverage limits for liability, comprehensive, collision, damages, and benefits, like safe driver or loyalty discounts. This can help you keep costs low and offer leverage for negotiation if your insurer tries to increase your rates.
  • Get Documentation to Prove Fault: Always report crashes involving injury, fatality, or damages over $1,000 to the DMV using form SR-1. Obtain a copy of the police report and other relevant documentation to prove the incident wasn’t your fault. Reporting the accident and keeping detailed records helps make a case with your insurer to prevent unjust rate increases.
  • Work with an Attorney: After an accident, seek legal counsel from a qualified California car accident attorney. Our team at Berg Injury Lawyers will guide you through the claims process, providing the documentation and representation to prove your lack of fault and prevent an increase in your premiums.

Get Help for Your Auto Accident Case with Berg Injury Lawyers

Increased insurance rates after a car accident can leave you financially vulnerable, especially when the crash isn’t your fault. To help prevent premium hikes, work with our experienced attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers.

We can help prove you aren’t at fault, ensure your driving record reflects accurate information, and negotiate for a fair settlement from the at-fault party’s insurer.

Contact us today for a free consultation to learn how we can help you avoid a premium increase following a car accident.