Will an Accident Claim Affect my Insurance Rates?
For many people that I have spoken to, a fear of higher insurance rates or cancellation makes them reluctant to file a claim on their own policy. The typical question is “How are my insurance rates going to be affected by this claim I am filing?” Although your insurance company cannot legally punish you for filing a claim related to an accident that you didn't cause such as dropping you or increasing premium rates, the insurance industry has done a great job of preventing people from using their insurance benefits.
Most people are afraid to tap into or file a claim against their own Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) policy until I explain why you have that coverage. UM/UIM insurance coverage exists to solely cover your damages when you are injured due to the negligence of another motorist who has no insurance or not enough insurance to cover your damages. I always review with my clients what UM/UIM coverages may be available to them.
UM/UIM coverage make make a huge difference in an automobile accident. For example, Georgia only requires liability coverage of $25,000.00 per person or $50,000.00 in total per accident. With the ever increasing costs of medical treatment an injured person's medical treatment can easily exceed that amount!
In Georgia, O.C.G.A. § 33-9-40 provides “No insurer shall surcharge the premium or rate charged on a policy of motor vehicle insurance or cancel such policy as a result of the insured person’s involvement in a multivehicle accident when such person was not at fault in such accident.” This means that your UM carrier cannot increase your rates just because you were in an accident with another vehicle and you were not at fault during the policy period.
People often wonder whether their insurance carrier can refuse to renew their policy at the end of the policy period because of the UM claims they have made. O.C.G.A. § 33-24-45 deals with cancellation and nonrenewal of automobile insurance policies. It is a bit convoluted, and provides:
(C) With respect to any driver or with respect to any automobile or its replacement, except when the replacement is such that together with other relevant underwriting or eligibility rules it would not have been insured as an original policy risk of the insurer, for two or fewer of the following within the preceding 36 month period:
(i) Accidents involving two or more motor vehicles in which the driver of the insured automobile under this subparagraph was not at fault;
(ii) Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage claims;
(iii) Comprehensive coverage claims; and
(iv) Towing or road service coverage claims.
The part to take notice of is two. If you have an accident that is not your fault and then make a UM claim, you are within the two events allowed - your insurance company cannot raise premiums, cancel coverage, or refuse to renew your policy. A situation could arise where your insurer refuses to renew if you make a UM/UIM claim ans use your comprehensive or road service coverage. I always advise my clients to use AAA for towing and the other driver’s liability coverage your own for car repairs if at all possible.
If there is a notice of nonrenewal, the insured may within 15 days from receipt of the notice ask for a review by the Commissioner of Insurance.
If you have an accident for which you are not at fault, have used your comprehensive or tow coverages, and then need to make a UM/UIM claim, you have options. One is to speak with your agent and find out whether your insurer plans to increase your premiums or non-renew your policy. If they won't give you a straight answer, then shop around for other coverage from other providers.
Your insurer must, upon request, furnish you with the reasons for the failure to renew this policy. If you wish to assert that the nonrenewal is unlawful, you must file a written notice with this insurer before the time at which the nonrenewal becomes effective. The notice must specify the manner in which the failure to renew is alleged to be unlawful.
Contact Me For A Free Consultation If You Have Been In an Accident and Are Worried About Your Uninsured Motorist Protection Coverage
If you’ve been involved in an accident where you were not at fault, call me or fill out my form for a free consultation. I can help you obtain fair compensation for your injuries and damages. By calling (404) 610-4429, you will ensure you will receive proper representation against by the at-fault driver and the insurance companies.