The whole purpose of insurance is to protect you when something unexpected happens. Why then, do normally careful drivers often see their rates rise dramatically after even a minor fender bender? Car insurance companies have all kinds of explanations for this phenomenon, from underwriting policies to business practices.
That does not make dealing with insurance rates after an accident any more fun, but there are some things you can do to mitigate the damage. You can take some steps before you get into an accident and others after the accident has already occurred.
Shop Around Carefully
Some car insurers are now offering accident forgiveness policies to their policyholders. These policies basically promise that your rates will not go up just because of an accident, although it is important to read the fine print and understand the exclusions. It is also important to compare the rates on those policies to what other companies are offering. These policies can be a good deal, but it is still important to shop around.
Document the Accident Carefully
Who is at fault in the accident can play a major role in what happens to your insurance premiums after the crash. If the accident is the fault of the other driver, chances are your rates will not go up much – if at all. But if the accident is deemed to be your fault, either in part or in full, chances are you are heading for a rate increase at your next policy renewal.
That is why it is so important to document every aspect of the accident, from the weather conditions to the exact positions of all the vehicles at the time of the crash. If a police report was taken, be sure to get a copy of it and submit it to the insurance company. The police officer who responded to the accident may have voiced an opinion on the factors that led up to the crash, and that can be valuable evidence in your favor.
Taking pictures of the accident scene is important as well. Documenting all of the damage will make it easier for the insurance adjuster to assess the damage and get your car fixed. Those pictures can also provide valuable clues as to who was at fault, even in the absence of an official police report. Things like the position of any dents, paint scrapes and other evidence can tip the scales and prove that you were not at fault.
Talk to Your Insurance Agent
If all else fails and your car insurance rates do go up after an accident, your next step should be to contact your insurance agent or a representative of the company. From there you can discuss your situation and look for other ways to save money on your policy. You might be able to save money by increasing your deductible, or by taking advantage of discounts you had been missing. Simply talking to your agent could help you save money and recover from the shock of the accident.
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