Car accidents can have long-term repercussions on your life for years after the crash itself, whether they’re medical, emotional, psychological, or financial.
An accident can result in financial repercussions whether it caused any injuries or not. For example, dealing with insurance companies and trying to navigate your car insurance premium after a car accident can be an uncertain situation.
Harmonson Law Firm in Las Cruces, New Mexico, can help you navigate and understand your insurance company’s policies after a car accident. One of the questions we get all the time is, “What happens if the car accident wasn’t my fault? Will my premium still go up?”
We’ve got the answers for you.
New Mexico is an At-Fault State
The first thing to understand about your insurance premiums after an accident is that New Mexico is an at-fault state. This means the driver who causes an accident uses their insurance to pay for the other driver’s bills caused by the collision.
If more than one driver is at fault, they will share the blame, and their insurance companies will decide the responsibility percentage. For example, one driver could be 30% at fault, while another driver is 60% at fault, and a third is at 10% fault. These will be the percentages that their insurance companies will pay.
Being at fault also means that the other drivers can sue you for damages.
Proof You’re Not at Fault
Since New Mexico is an at-fault state, even if you can prove that you are 10% at fault, your insurance premium might still increase.
To prove that you are not at fault, there are a few documents you can present to your insurance company:
- A police report that says who was at fault.
- A statement from the other driver’s insurance company accepting fault.
- A legal document showing that you were reimbursed for the damage.
- A driver’s written statement, under penalty of perjury, attesting to their fault.
Chargeable and Non-Chargeable Accidents
Insurance companies have a category for “chargeable accidents,” which can lead to a considerable insurance rate increase. This category generally refers to an accident where you were more than 50% at fault, and that caused one of the following:
- Damage to property, like another car or someone’s fence
- Bodily injury or death
On the other hand, there are also accidents where you cannot be charged. Here are some examples of non-chargeable accidents:
- Your car was legally parked when it was damaged.
- Your car was struck in a hit-and-run accident.
- The driver of another vehicle was convicted of a moving traffic violation associated with the accident, but you were not convicted of a moving traffic violation.
- The accident was caused by a collision with an animal or fowl.
- The damage was caused by falling objects or flying gravel.
So the amount that your premium will increase, or if it will increase at all, will vary depending on your insurance company’s policies.
Your Insurance Company
In Las Cruces, New Mexico, there are several different insurance companies to choose from, and within each of those companies, several different plans. As a result, there isn’t an easy answer for what and how much an accident that was not your fault will have on your car insurance premium.
On average, a not-at-fault accident makes insurance costs go up by about 12%, compared to 45% for an at-fault accident. But there are a few variables that might make those numbers change:
- The number of prior accidents and your driving history
- Policy details– for example, your car insurance policy might include accident forgiveness, which means your insurer won’t raise your rates after an accident
- The severity of the accident and the cost of the claim
Once your insurance company takes all of these questions into account, they’ll decide whether to issue a surcharge. A surcharge is the actual insurance increase you can get after an accident.
Since your insurer can’t start surcharging you in the middle of the policy period, you’ll find out whether you’re getting a surcharge at renewal time.
A silver lining is if your car insurance does increase, you usually have several months’ notice beforehand. Unfortunately, these can last for three to five years, given your insurance company and policy.
In some cases, the surcharge could decrease each year you drive without an accident, but there’s no guarantee that your insurer will allow a yearly decrease.
Contact Harmonson Law Firm for more information
Considering all of the individual factors that can lead to a car insurance premium increase, even if the car accident wasn’t your fault, having an attorney can be vital to prevent your premium from increasing.
In Las Cruces, New Mexico, attorney Clark Harmonson can be the go-between for you and the insurance company. Harmonson Law Firm can help make sure your car insurance premium doesn’t change or significantly increase after a car accident that is not your fault. Contact (575) 208-2572 for a free consultation.