At Negretti & Associates, we are asked frequently, “Should I call my insurance company after an accident and it wasn’t my fault?” People often worry that if they use their car insurance, their rates are going to go up.
We tell everyone uniformly that yes, they should contact their insurance companies. There are laws in every state that prevent insurance companies from raising your rates if you are not at fault for an accident and you dip into your own policy. That would be penalizing you for using the policy that you pay for — and contrary to logic. More important, it cannot happen by law.
Regardless, many people live under the impression that they shouldn’t use their insurance, because their premiums will go up, and their insurance providers will seek to recover the amount of the previously filed claim.
Dark Realities and Seedy Underbellies
While all of the above is true, there is a dark reality that you should be mindful of. I have worked with insurance companies long enough to know how the insurance industry works. I have heard countless stories from people who have not been at fault for accidents, and all the sudden there is rate review of their premium, or they are denied coverage the next time their premium comes due.
In essence, the insurance carrier doesn’t want to cover them anymore. This isn’t necessarily stated anywhere in the claim file that this change was due to an accident claim. But it becomes quite clear that this is what is happening.
There is a seedy underbelly in the insurance industry that does do these sorts of things to affect policyholders in the event that claims are made, whether they were at-fault in a claim or not.
You Paid for the Insurance, So Use It
Knowing that your insurance company might eventually raise your rates should not discourage you from making your claim. You buy insurance for a reason. If you have the insurance, use the insurance. Don’t be afraid at all. If you have the right coverages, I would not tell you to avoid using your insurance coverage, because of this fear.
If your insurance company tries to raise your rates, go to a different insurance company. There’s a lot of choice out there. I would not hesitate for a second to bounce to a different insurance company if they raised my rates. If I didn’t cause an accident, and all the sudden they’re playing games to try and claw back some of the money that they’re paying out due to a claim, find another provider.
I’ve had enough of these stories come through our office, and we’ve talked to so many people about this issue. While the law is clear about what insurance companies can’t do, it is quite difficult to prove that an insurance company actually raised premiums directly because of a previous accident claim. They will never admit anywhere, in writing or over the phone, why your rates went up. They’ll offer you a billion reasons, but they’ll never make it about the claim you made.
It would be very coincidental that you all the sudden have a rate increase, because you filed a claim against your insurance. I don’t believe in coincidences.
Be Prepared to Switch
If you are planning to file a claim with your insurance company, you should be prepared to switch insurance carriers. Now might be a good time to reach out to an insurance broker, to start comparing insurance policies and rates.
Don’t forget that you have choices! Don’t wait for your policy to come up for renewal. You can change your coverage at any time.
If this article has spared any questions about your insurance or a claim that you’ve made, don’t hesitate to call our office at 602-531-3911.