If you're involved in a car accident and the insurance adjuster cannot determine who was "at fault," both drivers become equally responsible.
This results in insurance rate hikes for both drivers.
This makes no sense. The tie should not go to the insurance company. If the insurance adjuster can't figure out who was responsible for the accident, then neither driver's rates should increase.
Many drivers feel insurance companies are "double dipping" when it comes to car insurance rate hikes for both drivers based on one accident. One would think that the driver who is mostly responsible for the accident should be the only one to incur the insurance rate increase or cancellation penalties.
You have to fight for your rights if you are ruled as "partially at fault" for an accident that you feel was not your fault, so your insurance rate does not skyrocket.
You would be surprised to find out that these days your insurance adjuster rarely sees the other driver's car. If the adjuster does not see the damage to the other vehicle, it can be difficult to determine who was at fault.
Insist that your insurance adjuster inspects the damage to both cars, and does not simply deem you to be "partially at fault" for an accident when you weren't.
Only then will your insurance rate not increase.
You need to confirm that the adjuster documented that you were not at fault for the accident, and you need to get confirmation of this by e-mail or letter.
If you don't, you may end up seeing a huge rate increase, or even given a cancellation notice when your policy comes up for renewal.
Look at this example for a driver in a metropolitan area - with no previous accident on record - and the insurance policy rate increase that could result from being involved in an accident with a "partially at fault" ruling: The lowest rate with no accident is $1,463, while the top rate that kicks in due to a partially-at-fault accident is $8,212. (These rates are extracted from a spread of 30 insurance companies):
In this example, one accident could have caused a driver's insurance rate to increase by over $6,700. Paying insurance rates for one accident over the course of two years can sometimes cost more than your car is worth. Always do the math. You might not even need collision coverage if it saves you thousands of dollars in insurance premiums.
For instance, the above rate example was for the coverage of a 1997 Chrysler Intrepid, which would cost around $3,000 to purchase. The one-year amount for insurance after one accident, which will affect your insurance rate for 6 years, is more than double the value of the car.
If you've had an insurance nightmare, or simply need advice on insurance, accidents, traffic tickets and related issues, please get in contact.
Lee Romanov is the founder of InsuranceHotline.com and the author of Car Carma.