Woman inspecting scratches on her car's body work as she speaks on the phone with her insurance or a Miami Geico repair facility

Insurers like to reward careful drivers. An accident can cause your premiums to go up, often by quite a lot. Some insurers are worse than others, but some drivers have found that their premiums have doubled after an accident. Increases of between 33 and 45 percent are not uncommon.

What Kind of Accident Affects Your Rates?

Specific policies vary, but generally, if the accident causes at least $500 to $750 in damage and is ruled to be at least 50% your fault, it is likely to affect your insurance. Most insurers will exclude incidents where you were lawfully parked, rear-ended, or hit by a hit and run. If the other driver was convicted of a moving violation, or the accident was caused by contact with birds, animals, falling or thrown objects, you likely won’t be affected. In other words, if a bird flies into your windscreen, that’s not going to affect your policy.

Your rates will also go up if you are in multiple accidents. This is true even if they were not your fault, and the effect can be cumulative. And if you live in a No-Fault state such as Florida, then your rates may go up even if the accident was not your fault. This is because your insurance company often has to pay out on the accident anyway.

How Long Does an Accident Stay on Your Record?

Insurers care primarily about whether the accident is still on your driving record. They may also have a specific policy about how long an accident will stay on your record. This may be as long as ten years for a DUI conviction—don’t drink and drive. For most accidents, expect the rate hike to last three to five years. However, it may slowly decrease over time as long as you keep driving safely.

You may start having issues getting insurance at all and may have to go with a high-risk policy if you get into too many accidents or have a DUI. Unfortunately, these tend to be expensive.

Can You Avoid a Premium Increase?

There are a few things you can do to help avoid a high premium hike after an accident:

  • Report all accidents to your insurer even if you don’t want to make a claim for insurance repairs. You may think they will never find out about an accident. However, if they do, especially if the other driver sues, then your rates will certainly go up. If you need repairs, visit a Miami Geico repair facility.
  • Ask about accident forgiveness. Most insurers will forgive one accident, especially if you have been accident-free for a few years and have no moving violations for three years. This is often something you have to add as an option, though.
  • Change your policy. In some cases, the best response to a huge increase when your renewal comes up is to just shop around for a new policy. Just don’t lie about the accident to your new insurer. That is likely to come back to bite you later. Changing insurers will not get an accident to vanish from your record, but may allow you to avoid an excessive rate hike. Sometimes the best deal, when you had a clean record, ceases to be the best deal after a crash.
  • Remind them about your good record. If you have been driving for a while with no accidents, sometimes you can negotiate down a rate hike by talking up what a safe driver you are. Don’t, of course, overdo it.

A premium hike after an accident, even one that is not your fault, may be an unavoidable fact of life, but there are a few things you can do to keep your wallet from being hit too hard or out of proportion to the damage done. If you have been in an accident and need reasonably priced repairs that will not look too bad to your insurance company, go to a Miami Gardens Geico repair facility and contact Tropical Chevrolet Collision Center or call (305) 908-5548.

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