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Will My Rates go Up if I File an Auto Insurance Claim?


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So you explored the many types of auto insurance. Then you bought the right insurance with the right deductible, thinking you would protect your car and occupants from harm by yourself or others. Next, you got into an unfortunate accident.

  • So what happens after you tell your broker about the claim and pay your deductible?

Well, first of all, it doesn't always matter who is at fault.  The number of no fault insurance claims filed on your behalf can have a direct impact on your insurance rates. So your rates can still hike if you have too many claims. In fact, it could be grounds for cancellation or non-renewal. 

Of course, at fault accidents will almost always raise a red flag. In that case, your rates generally will increase.  Other things like credit rating, and number of traffic tickets will mitigate in favor of or against a rate increase in some cases.

What Does "Accident Forgiveness" Mean?

Some insurers have slick ad campaigns discussing "accident forgiveness" even if you're at fault. The idea here is that your rates won't increase for an at fault accident if you buy, or accept the additional service. Make sure and read the fine print. (Go here to see a list of insurers offering accident forgiveness.) But remember if you want to switch insurers, the forgiven accident remains on your DMV driving record. In other words, the new insurance company will tally that risk into your new policy.

Will My Auto Liability Insurance Rates Go Up If I File a Form SR-1 With DMV?

The answer is it could. Of course, California law requires you to file a Form SR-1 accident report report within 10 days of the wreck with the DMV if the damage is above $1000.00 U.S. So whether or not you're at fault matters not.

When you file a claim, typically your insurance representative will file the SR-1 on your behalf. Or when you hire a car accident lawyer, the firm usually files one.

Even if you don't file a claim with your carrier, they constantly look at driving histories of policyholders during the course of the policy. The problem is that even if you're not at fault, your present and future insurer assesses all risks, not just at fault risks.

If you get into a lot of no fault accidents, you may seem like a high risk as long as those car accident reports remain on your DMV Printout. Get it?

How Long Does it Take for Auto Accidents to Come off Your DMV Printout?

The DMV printout is a time based record of your driving history. The printout records traffic tickets like following too closely, DUI's, no fault and at fault accidents. It contains a point based record of crimes, infractions and accidents.

  • Tickets (infractions) are usually set at one point.
  • At fault accidents are usually two points, etc.
  • No fault accidents result in ZERO DMV points.
  • DUI points are usually set at two points.

With the exception of serious offenses like Driving While Intoxicated, minor points will stay on your driving record for 3 years, or 36 months.

  • Felony and misdemeanor hit-and-runs and DUI offenses remain on your DMV license printout for 10 years. This can prevent you from getting certain civilian jobs, and almost bars you from many government jobs as a security risk.

How long does a no fault accident stay on your record? Unfortunately, even if you're not at fault, the record of the accident remains for 3 years like an at fault collision would. Seems unfair right? Actuaries will use this information when determining your rates unfortunately.

Should You Even File an Auto Insurance Claim?

Before we digress too much here, is it even in your best interest to file a claim? I mean, you got stellar coverage and now you are worried your rates will go up. First off, as discussed sometimes you have no choice but to report this to the DMV. The key here is eliminating or reducing the number of claims you file.

Otherwise, you remain at risk for a minor to substantial increase. A good idea would be to ignore scratches and dings and only file a claim for a catastrophic loss. Even if you remained claim free for years, and never skipped a payment, your insurer still can decline your renewal, or refuse upgrading your coverage after your policy expiration.

In a nutshell, yes, your rates can go up regardless of fault. And this is a future cost factor your lawyer should consider when settling your car accident case. To learn more about auto accidents, contact Ehline Law Firm Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC at (213) 596-9642. We help car accident victims in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Bernardino, Riverside and San Francisco.

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