How Much Will a Minor Accident Affect My Auto Insurance Rate?

Nobody's perfect, and collisions happen. It's not a foregone conclusion that a minor auto accident will send your insurance premiums soaring, however. Depending on a variety of factors, you might not notice a difference in what you're paying at all. Unfortunately, there's also the possibility that the increase will be significant.

Severity of Accident

"Minor" is a subjective term, and your insurer measures it in dollars. Your collision is only a minor accident if the claim doesn't cost your insurance company much. If the cost of repairing the damage is less than your deductible, and if no other autos were involved, you may not want to make a claim at all. The cost of repairs will come out of your own pocket regardless. You should report the incident to your company anyway, even if you don't make a claim. If you do make a claim, the more it costs your company and depending on a few other factors, the more likely it is that your premiums will go up.

Fault

Another important factor is who was at fault for the collision. If no other driver was involved, you're obviously to blame. If you rear-end someone, this also means you're solely responsible. Otherwise, the police report will typically give some indication of whether you were at fault. No matter how minor the accident, it's always a good idea to call the police for this reason, unless you happen to live in a no-fault insurance state where responsibility is not an issue. In these states, your insurer must usually pay any claims relating to your accident regardless of who caused it. Otherwise, if you're clearly not at fault, your premiums probably won't go up at all. By the same token, if you were egregiously at fault, your premiums will take more of a hit, even if the damage is minor.

Your Driving Record

If you had a spotless driving record before your accident, your premiums are less likely to increase. Many insurers offer "accident forgiveness" programs where they'll essentially overlook your first mishap if you've been insured with them for several years and never made a claim. After your accident, however, your record is no longer perfect, so you can probably expect a premium increase if you suffer another. This is true even if your insurer doesn't offer accident forgiveness. The effect of two collisions is always worse than one.

Hit and Run Accidents

If someone hit you and took off, this changes the situation somewhat. Such an accident is obviously not your fault, but depending on where you live, some states might require you to make an uninsured motorist claim if you carry this type of coverage. Your insurer typically can’t increase your rates for making an uninsured motorist claim when you have no liability for the accident.

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About the Author

Beverly Bird has been writing professionally since 1983. She is the author of several novels including the bestselling "Comes the Rain" and "With Every Breath." Bird also has extensive experience as a paralegal, primarily in the areas of divorce and family law, bankruptcy and estate law. She covers many legal topics in her articles.

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