As if getting into a car crash wasn’t bad enough—the very act of making a claim on your auto insurance can cause another big hit … to your wallet.
Many drivers don’t realize that rates typically rise after making just one auto insurance claim, even if you have a squeaky clean record.
A recent insuranceQuotes study found that after making one claim for at least $2,000, renewal premiums grow by an average of 44%. Considering that the average annual premium is $841, a claim equates to shelling out an additional $371 per year.
But premium increases vary considerably depending on the state where you live. Here are the top five states with the highest rate hikes after making a claim:
- California - 63% increase
- New Hampshire - 60% increase
- Texas – 60% increase
- Massachusetts – 57% increase
- North Carolina – 57% increase
If you’re unlucky and have to file a second claim within the next 12-month period, rates almost double, with a national average increase of 99%.
It’s important to note that the type of claim you make influences the rate hike you’ll see. Also, increases typically only happen when you’re at fault in an accident. In other words, if another driver damages your vehicle, his or her insurance would pay your repairs and your policy wouldn’t be affected.
The study examined rates for a hypothetical 45-year-old married female driver who has filed no prior auto insurance claims. It reveals how much premiums can go up, on average, after filing three different types of claims:
- Bodily injury – is known as a liability claim, which is filed when you cause medical injuries to individuals. It’s the most expensive type, with an average increase of 49% for one claim and 108% for two.
- Property damage – is known as a collision claim, which is filed when you cause damage to someone’s property or vehicle. It results in a 44% increase.
- Comprehensive – is a claim filed for damage caused by something other than a collision (such as a falling tree, fire, or theft). It’s the least expensive claim type with an average premium of 2%.
How Long Do Insurance Rates Go Up After Filing a Claim?
The good news is that your auto insurance rates eventually come back down after filing a claim. However, black marks on your driving history follow you longer than you’d probably like. In many states, claims and moving violations affect your rate for up to three years and in others up to five.
If you’re not sure whether making a claim is a smart financial move, check out the “When to Make an Insurance Claim” Calculator to help crunch the numbers.
Tips to Save Money If Your Insurance Rate Goes Up
If your auto insurance renews at a higher rate, be proactive about finding affordable coverage.
Here are smart tips to pay less for auto insurance:
- Avoid a lapse in coverage. As tempting as it may be to cancel a policy that’s costing you more, having a gap in coverage could make a bad situation worse. Even going one month without auto insurance can cause your rate to rise. So make sure you have a new policy in place before canceling the old one.
- Bundle policies. Combining multiple coverages—such as your auto and homeowners or renters insurance—with the same company can qualify you for “multi-line” discounts with most carriers.
- Raise your deductible. Insurance premiums and deductibles work like a seesaw: when one goes up, the other goes down. If you having savings to pay a higher deductible, raising it helps cut your auto insurance cost.
- Shop quotes from multiple providers. Compare at least three to five quotes when you shop, making sure they’re for the same types and amounts of coverage. Different insurers evaluate claims differently, so you could easily find a lower rate for the same benefits and save money.
- Ask your insurer for the surcharge schedule—which should tell you how long it will be before your premiums return to normal levels.
Also, remember that not all insurers give accidents the same weight, so you can always shop around for a cheaper policy.
Laura Adams is the Senior Insurance Analyst for insuranceQuotes.com. An author, spokesperson and national media source, she helps consumers improve their personal finances by making money easy to understand.
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