Frequently Asked Questions - Will My Insurance Go Up If I File An Uninsured Motorist Claim?
The whole logic and underlying principle of automobile insurance is to protect you when accidents occur. Though, in order for that insurance to protect you, you need to use it when the situation arises. When you are involved in an auto accident to no fault of your own, you automatically and justifiably look towards the at-fault party’s insurance and expect them to rectify your losses. However, that may not always be an option. If you were injured in a motor vehicle crash by an insured driver or you were injured in a hit and run accident, then you are forced into a situation where you need to file an uninsured claim with your own insurance company in order to mitigate your losses and attempt to make yourself whole. A simple decision, right? After all, that is why you pay your insurance premiums – to use your insurance coverage when you need it. However, many find themselves very reluctant to file uninsured motorist claims or even underinsured motorist claims as they are worried their insurance rates will go up, or even that their insurance company may drop them altogether. Although these concerns are not necessarily unfounded, they are for the most part highly mistaken. Insurance companies can increase your rates for a multitude of reasons: being at-fault for an accident, filing a comprehensive claim, traffic violations, a lapse in insurance, a drop in your credit score, moving, and aging. However, insurance companies are prohibited from penalizing their insured for filing a claim for an accident to which they were found to be not-at-fault. More specifically, your insurance company cannot legally increase your premium or cancel your policy because you filed an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim. There are statutes that address this exclusively and explicitly. An accident attorney can direct you to the relevant statute(s) in your specific state.
On the other hand, if you are receiving any insurance rate benefits or discounts from your insurance company for not having an accident for a set period of time, filing an accident claim may result in your insurance company withdrawing said benefits or discounts. However, the sole fact of being involved in a crash in any capacity or filing any type of claim would essentially have the same consequence. This policy change is completely separate and independent from filing a UM/UIM claim. For example, you may lose an “accident-free” discount regardless if you decide to file a UM/UIM claim or not. As, once again, for the simple fact that an accident was reported, your insurance company may remove that specific benefit.
Many people are also concerned with their insurance company refusing to renew their insurance policy once their policy period ends. The statute in each state varies on this particular language and you would need to verify this with an attorney in your area. In most cases, there is a particular number of “not-at-fault” accident claims limit that is allowed within a given period of time wherein the insurance company cannot cancel or refuse to renew an insurance policy. If that particular limit is exceeded, then the insurance company can legally cancel your policy or refuse to allow you to renew it once your policy expires. Unless you have filed multiple claims within a very short period of time, then you have nothing to be wary of. Insurance companies largely calculate their rates based on the risk factors. Amongst other factors, insurance companies will gauge how risky it would be to insure you based on the number of previous accidents you have been involved in. Even so, insurance companies will often take into consideration the specific facts of the loss or losses, i.e. if you were at fault, the amount of property damage sustained, and how much was paid in medicals and settlements. The more claims you file, the more costly you are to an insurer. Then, naturally, you would be considered a higher risk by the insurance company to insure. This would increase the likelihood that your insurance rates will go up, or your policy won’t be renewed, but, again, It all depends on the respective statute in your state that dictates when your insurance is allowed to take such action.
Taking into consideration all of the aforementioned, it is probably more important to ask yourself if you can afford not to file an uninsured motorist claim. Making a UM/UIM claim may be the only way for you to ensure that you can afford all of your necessary medical treatment and not go bankrupt in the process. If you were severely injured in a motor vehicle crash that was caused by the negligence of someone else and that individual is uninsured or perhaps does not have enough liability insurance to cover all of your medical bills, pain and suffering and other damages, then you would need to file a UM/UIM claim in order to recover your losses. Perhaps you have been out of work due to the severe accident-related injuries you sustained or must take a substantial amount of time off work in order to treat with your doctor or doctors. So, you are not making any money or at least not the same amount of money as you were prior to the accident. You have significant medical bills that are piling up and not to mention your regular bills and responsibilities. It can be an overwhelmingly stressful situation. This is precisely why you wisely purchased uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage when you signed up for your auto insurance policy – to protect you and your family from such hardship. In such a scenario, the benefits of filing a UM claim greatly outweigh the repercussions of a potential rate increase. Your UM/UIM case’s settlement may be worth much more in the long run. Although bear in mind, a UM claims adjuster may not have the same opinion as you as to the value of your UM/UIM claim. Thus, it is imperative to seek the advice of an experienced personal injury attorney to protect your interests and ensure you get every penny of UM compensation that you deserve.