How Do Personal Injury Claims Affect Car Insurance Rates?

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Personal injury (Photo: @Wutzkoh via Twenty20)
Personal injury insurance is designed to cover medical expenses and other related losses in case of a car accident. People are often hesitant to file a personal injury claim, though, fearing it will affect their car insurance rates.
However, making a claim does not automatically equate to higher premiums. Insurance companies take a lot more into account than one accident. There are several things to consider before deciding whether to file a claim.

1. Driving history

If you file a personal injury claim, it doesn’t necessarily affect your car insurance rates. Before determining if your premiums will increase, an insurance company will take a close look at your driving history. Do you have a habit of getting moving violations like speeding tickets? Have you been in more than one accident? Do you have unpaid parking tickets? Do you take risks while driving?
These factors are also considered before a rate increase is instituted. Sometimes insurance companies will discount your rates if you take a defensive driving course showing you’re serious about improving your driving history.

2. Guilty party

When an accident is investigated, evidence is gathered and analyzed to determine who was at fault. Sometimes all parties involved carry some of the guilt, while other times only one party is found guilty. Whatever the conclusion, the party that carries the most guilt is usually responsible for damages and injuries.
If you file a personal injury claim and the other party is found at fault, their insurance company will pay the costs for your medical care depending on the laws of the state you are in. Also, since you were not guilty or are least at fault, your insurance rates should not be negatively affected unless you have frequent accidents.

3. Severity of accident

Another thing insurance companies look at when determining if a personal injury claim will affect your car insurance rates is the severity of the accident. If you suffer a minor fender bender resulting in minimal personal injury costs, there’s less a chance of increased premium rates. However, if the accident results in medical costs over $10,000 or if attorneys become involved, your insurance rates will most likely increase significantly.

4. Claims history

In addition to your driving history, insurance companies look at how often you make a claim. They also consider the payout amounts and how much it has added up to over the span of your coverage. A common perk nowadays is accident forgiveness, which rewards you the longer you go without an accident or claim.
If you have accrued accident forgiveness, your insurance company will not increase your rates for most accidents. However, if you have a history of making insurance claims, your premium will increase and you risk loss of coverage.

5. Ineligibility

Often the severity of an injury incurred in a car accident is not evident right away. You can suffer sprained and broken bones or internal organ damage without even realizing it. You should never assume you haven’t been injured in an accident. If you do not file a personal injury claim after an incident, you may lose much needed coverage later when injuries are uncovered.
Because you waited to make a claim and after injuries were uncovered, it may be more difficult to prove they were eligible for coverage. Remember, personal injury insurance pays for medical bills, including diagnostic tests and disability expenses, as well as loss of income.
Not all is lost if a personal injury claim affects your car insurance rates. Most insurance companies will lower your rates after a couple years of good driving and free of accidents.