When you’re already paying a lot of car insurance, getting into an accident can leave you waiting with worry to see if your rates will increase. Unfortunately, an accident that lasts just a few seconds can have lasting implications for your insurance rates.
Florida has the third highest insurance premium rates in the country, with an average minimum annual rate of $1,343. After an accident, Florida’s average insurance increase rate for accidents involving injuries is 39%.
What most people don’t know is that insurance companies in Florida are actually not legally allowed to raise your rates unless you are found to be “substantially at fault.” So, they cannot raise your insurance rates for liability, personal injury protection, medical payments, or collision coverage just because you were involved in an accident.
Rather, the insurer must act in good faith to find that the policyholder was substantially at fault, meaning more than 50% at fault. So, if you are more than 50% at fault for an accident, your insurer may raise your insurance rates.
Read on to find out more about what factors influence your insurance rates before and after a car accident.
How Do Florida’s No-Fault Insurance Laws Affect Insurance Rates After a Car Accident?
Tampa’s no-fault insurance laws simply mean that every driver must carry personal injury protection (PIP). With PIP, your insurance automatically covers accident damages (e.g., medical bills), regardless of who is at fault.
However, from a legal standpoint and for insurance purposes, it does matter who was at fault. An accident is always someone’s fault, even if no one was harmed. If the fault was shared, determining the percentage of fault for each party is a crucial step when asking if your insurance will go up. The bottom line is if you cause a crash, your insurance rate may increase.
Insurance Policyholders Are Protected by Tampa Laws
There are many factors your insurer will take into account before deciding to increase your insurance rates. The pathways to making this decision may look different based on who your insurance provider is.
However, the one standard all Florida insurers must comply with is Florida Statute 626.9541. This statute basically prevents insurance companies from increasing your premiums or canceling your policy unless you act in good faith and can prove you were more than 50% at fault for the accident.
If you believe that your insurance provider has acted in bad faith and has illegitimately raised your insurance rates, they could be subject to civil liability and other penalties. You can consult with a knowledgeable Tampa car accident attorney to get tailored legal help for your case.
General Factors That Determine Insurance Rates in Florida
From the type of car you drive to the deductibles and coverage policies you choose, there are many considerations that ultimately determine the price of your auto insurance. Some are within your control, while others are simply beyond your control.
What Kind of Driving Record Do You Have?
According to experts, having a clean driving record can pay off – it can help you save up to 40% on car insurance. That’s because insurance companies offer incentives to safer and more experienced drivers.
Younger drivers, drivers with numerous traffic violations, and those who have a track record of getting into accidents are considered high-risk policyholders. Even one accident could potentially raise your car insurance rates for up to five years.
Do You Have a Good Credit Score?
Tampa insurance providers often use credit score as a consideration when deciding how much to charge you. Drivers with poor credit history pay nearly 70% more on their insurance premiums than those with good history (unless you live in one of the few states that don’t allow credit history to affect car insurance)
Where You Live Can Affect Your Insurance Rates
Car insurance rate quotes are very specific, and your zip code can make a big difference. Tampa’s average insurance rates ($273 per month) are higher than Florida’s overall average ($238 per month).
Younger Drivers Are a Bigger Liability
New or young drivers are considered a higher risk and, therefore, will cost more. Drivers under the age of 25 will pay much more than a 45-year-old driver.
How Much Time Do You Spend on the Road?
Your yearly mileage can affect your insurance rates. The basic ideology here is that the more time you spend driving, the more likely you are to get into an accident.
What About After an Accident? Do Insurance Companies Consider the Same Factors?
So, let’s say you were involved in an accident that was your fault or partially your fault. Even so, there are many other factors the insurance companies must take into consideration before increasing your insurance.
Insurance companies will check your profile to review things like your risk rating, driving history, and more. Here are some of the most important questions the insurance company might ask when deciding if they will raise your insurance rates.
How Severe Was the Accident?
A minor accident will have a different effect on your insurance than one involving a totaled vehicle. Since no two accidents are exactly alike, you’ll need to analyze your accent on an individual basis. A legal professional can help you do this and launch a thorough investigation into your case to determine a fair value for accident damages.
Was Anyone Injured in the Accident?
If people sustained injuries in the accident, there’s a higher likelihood of your rates increasing (as opposed to an accident that only resulted in property damage). Insurance rates can increase anywhere from 22% (State Farm) to 77% (Geico), with the national average sitting at 47% (for an accident that caused injuries).
Who Was Responsible for Causing the Accident?
Whether or not your insurance premium increases an accident is largely dependent on fault. Once you submit an insurance claim, an insurance adjuster will get assigned to review your case and the associated damages. They will then make a determination of fault based on their investigation and evidence, such as police reports, photographs, and interviews.
If the claims adjudication deems you at fault for causing the accident, your insurance may go up. If the accident resulted in property damage and injuries, your insurance rates may increase even more.
If you are claiming that you were not at fault, your provider or the at-fault insurance company may ask for evidence and supporting documentation to support your claim.
My Insurance Company Increased My Premium After an Accident. What Should I Do Now?
You could shop for a new insurance policy or set up a long-term plan. But, if you think your insurance company has unlawfully raised your rates in bad faith, you may need to speak with a Tampa bad-faith insurance attorney.
By law, the insurance company must have sufficient proof to justify increasing your rates or canceling your policy. In addition to seeking professional legal counsel, you can also file a complaint with Florida’s Office of Insurance Regulation.
What if I Didn’t Cause the Accident? Is It Still Possible for My Insurance Rates to Go Up?
It’s possible that you were involved in an accident that wasn’t your fault. In that case, your insurance shouldn’t go up. Here are some examples of scenarios where your insurance rates should not increase:
- You were involved in a hit-and-run (where the other driver hit your car and fled the scene)
- Someone hit your parked car (and it was parked legally)
- You got rear-ended
- You got t-boned
- Another car side-swiped you
- An animal ran out into the road
When Do I Need to Hire a Tampa Car Accident Lawyer?
Just because your insurer increased your rates or canceled your policy, that doesn’t automatically warrant hiring a lawyer. You need to consider the facts of your unique case and your personal driving record, amongst other things. Your best option may be to shop around for a new policy and devise a long-term plan with practices like switching cars and improving your credit score.
If, however, you sustained injuries in a car accident that was someone else’s fault, then you might need to hire an attorney. If you have legal questions regarding your car accident case or insurance malpractice, we offer a free initial consultation.
Our legal experts can assess your case details and give you an honest, professional opinion on the merits of your case before moving forward.