Per Florida Statutes §626.9541, your car insurance should not go up after an accident unless you were “substantially at fault.” The statute states that insurers cannot raise liability, personal injury protection, medical payments, or collision premiums “solely because the insured was involved in a motor vehicle accident unless…the insurer in good faith determines that the insured was substantially at fault.”
Essentially, if another driver hits you and your insurer raises your rates for using your personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, it has broken the law—unless it can prove that it, in good faith, determined you were substantially at fault. When you hire a car accident lawyer from our firm, we can fight to prove the other driver’s fault to protect your rates and help you get your coverage.
What is “Substantially at Fault?”
The statute does not define what it means to be “substantially at fault.” However, we can infer that being “substantially at fault” means to be more at fault than not (i.e., 51 percent).
Consider the following scenario: another vehicle headed in the same direction struck your car in the rear (and you did not receive a citation). The other driver’s insurer found its driver was 100 percent at fault for the collision. Because Florida is a no-fault state, you used your PIP coverage before filing a claim with the other driver’s insurer. Your insurer then raised your rates for using your PIP coverage.
Your insurer has not found you substantially at fault and has therefore breached the terms of your contract. However, if the other driver’s insurer determined that both your brake lights were out, it might find you 60 percent at fault for the collision. In this case, your insurer is well within its rights to raise your premiums after the accident.
What is “Good Faith”?
Acting in good faith simply means your insurer is upholding the terms of your policy.
If the insurer fails to investigate your accident and simply raises your rates without an investigation, we can argue the insurer is not acting in good faith. As your representatives, our team will fight for your best interests against another driver’s insurance company as well as your own.
Raising Insurance Rates for Policyholders Who Were Substantially at Fault
If you were substantially at fault for the accident based upon the insurance company’s file, the insurer will see you as a higher risk. Insurance companies are risk-averse. They will raise your rates to account for the increased risk (as well as potentially to recoup some of their losses).
The factors that will determine how much your rates increase are your prior driving history and the type of claim that you or the other driver submitted. Claims can involve property only or both bodily injury and property. The severity of the accident and the amount of damages will also affect the amount of money the insurance company needs to recoup following an accident.
As with all insurance premium rates, other factors also contribute to what rate you will pay, including:
- Marital status
- Credit score
- Continuity of coverage
- Vehicle specifics
- Miles driven per year
Rate increases based on an at-fault accident can stay in effect for three to five years. This can quickly add up, which is why proving the other party’s fault is so crucial. When we represent you after a collision, our team’s goal is to protect you from any additional harm or financial troubles.
Can an Accident Have any Effect on My Policy if I was Not at Fault?
It could. It depends on how often you are involved in accidents. Frequent accidents within a set period can cause you to lose your coverage. Florida Statutes §626.9541(1)(o)(3.c) provides, in relevant part:
“An insurer may not fail to renew a policy if the insured has had only one accident in which he or she was at fault within the current 3-year period. However…this subparagraph does not prohibit nonrenewal of a policy under which the insured has had three or more accidents, regardless of fault, during the most recent 3-year period.”
For example, if you are involved in three different collisions in three years and are not at fault for any of them, your insurer can still cancel your policy. However, if you cause two accidents in two years, your insurer might be breaking the law if it cancels your insurance.
Our team Handles Insurance Matters in Collision Cases
After a collision with a negligent driver, the damages you experience could cause financial strain for you and your family. When seeking compensation for these expenses and losses, the last thing you should have to worry about is rising insurance rates.
If your insurer raised your rates after an accident another driver caused, we can help you prove your insurer is acting in bad faith. We can also help you recover the compensation you deserve after suffering injuries because of another driver’s negligent behavior. Our team prides itself on taking care of all the legal matters while our clients focus on their other concerns. Some of the services we provide include:
- Evidence collection: We will look into your accident and collect evidence to prove the other driver’s fault and the damages you suffered.
- Claim filing: Our team will prepare and submit your paperwork.
- Communication: Speaking directly with the insurance company yourself may give the insurance adjuster opportunities to use your words against you. When all communications go through us, we can make sure your statements will not harm your claim.
- Negotiation: Beyond exchanging information between you and the insurance company, we can also handle negotiations for you. Our team knows how these companies value accident cases, so we can argue for a fair settlement.
- Court proceedings: Should going to court become necessary to protect your insurance rates and secure your recoverable damages, an attorney from our team will not hesitate to sue on your behalf.
Do You Think Your Insurer is Acting in Bad Faith? Call Us for Help
Do not feel as though you need to deal with your insurer alone. Call the Law Firm of Anidjar & Levine today for a free case consultation with one of our team members. We can discuss your case and the benefits of working with our team of Florida car accident attorneys: (954) 525-0050.