Per Florida Statute § 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.
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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: 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 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. 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.
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 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, marital status, age, credit score, continuity of coverage, geography, vehicle specifics, miles driven per year, and other factors also contribute to what rate you will pay.
Rate increases based on an at-fault accident can stay in effect for three to five years.
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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.
Florida Statute § 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.
Do You Think Your Insurer Is Acting in Bad Faith? Call Us for Help.
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.
Do not feel as though you need to deal with your insurer alone. Call the Law Firm of Anidjar & Levine today to schedule a free case consultation with one of our Florida car accident attorneys: 800-747-3733.