Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insurance...

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UPDATED: Sep 24, 2021

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Here's what you need to know...

  • In most states, an at-fault claim is a loss where the policyholder is 51% or more to blame for the events leading to the collision
  • A majority of insurers will consider a claim chargeable and add a surcharge to the policy premium the renewal after a claim is filed
  • While it’s not common for companies to charge for comprehensive claims, some states allow companies to charge increased rates after multiple comp claims
  • Companies will only increase your rates for a property damage claim if it exceeds the property damage threshold in the state
  • The actual amount of your surcharge depends on the type of claim, your claims record, the company you’re insured with and the state that you live in

Your mission as a consumer is to keep your auto insurance premiums as low as you possibly can. You can shop around, compare rates, and follow the rules of the road all in an effort to keep premiums low, but as soon as you have your first accident you can’t help but wonder how much your rates will go up.

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As unfortunate as it might sound, using your auto insurance could result in a dramatic rate increase. Even though many claims can be surcharged, not all of them can. Whether or not your rates will go up depends on where you live, the type of claim that you filed, your personal driving record, your claims record, and the company’s practices. Once all of these factors are considered, the company then determines what surcharge will be sufficient.

Can your rates go up when you file a comprehensive claim?

Comprehensive is a form of physical damage coverage that pays to repair your covered auto when it’s damaged in a fire, an act of vandalism, a flood, a theft, an explosion or a storm. Falling objects and live animal encounters all fall under comprehensive. So many times, people decide not to file a comprehensive claim because they’re worried their rates will climb drastically. While it’s possible, it’s not at all common for rates to go up from this type of loss.

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How much will your rates go up following a comprehensive loss?

What you might not know is that it’s not typical for companies to charge anything when you file a comprehensive claim, regardless of the size of the claim. This is because a comprehensive claim is thought to be a no-fault situation that could not be avoided. Even so, some states have started to allow insurers to charge a modest surplus for multiple comprehensive claims filed under on a single policy. In these states, the average rate increase is a modest 2% following a comp loss. Since the average annual premium in the U.S. is $841.23, the climb will be just about $16 per year.

Will your rates automatically go up after an accident?

Accidents lead to even more confusion when it comes to rate increases. Most people are very much aware of the fact that their rates can go up if they have an accident, but they’re not quite sure when they will and when they won’t. Insurance contracts are difficult to read, but if you were to look through your booklet you could learn when accidents are chargeable.

In a majority of cases, accidents are chargeable when you could have avoided them.

In technical terms, this means that you’re more than 50% to blame for the damages that occurred. If you’re not, there’s a good chance that your Department of Insurance won’t allow the carrier to surcharge your premiums even if you’ve totaled your car.

How much will rates go up for a collision or property damage claim?

If you’re in an accident, the only time you’ll really need to file a claim is when there’s damage. Collision will pay for the repairs that need to be made to your vehicle and Property Damage Liability will pay for the repairs that need to be made to third-party cars involved. If you file a claim for repairs to your car, a claim for damage to another car, or a claim for both, the surcharge for the claim will be the same.

The actual increase for a damage claim depends on your record and the company’s pricing practices. With this being said, the average increase reported nationwide for the first damage claim filed under a policy is 41%. This means that you’ll pay about $345 more per year after the claim has been filed.

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Does it matter how much the company has to pay in repairs?

You might think that surcharges are based on the amount paid out. This is only partially true. For a damage claim to be chargeable, a certain amount has to be paid out. This is called the property damage threshold and it can range from $500 to $2000. As soon as the claim exceeds this reporting threshold, it can be the cause for a rate increase. The surcharge will be the same regardless of if the damage costs $3000 or $20,000 to repair.

How much could your rates go up if you injure someone?

Your rates will go up even more if you’re in an at-fault accident that resulted in injury. Not only is the surcharge higher for a bodily injury claim, it will almost certainly lead to a loss of the Good Driver Discount. If you live in a state where the Good Driver Discount is available, find out how much it lowers your rates and expect to see a large jump.

When will your rates go up?

Your rates won’t go up right after you file your claim and a payout is made. Instead, the rate increases take effect at the next renewal. This is when the policy is underwritten again and risk is reassessed. It’s at this time you might consider shopping for coverage if you’re not happy with the new rate.

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Will your company forgive you for an accident?

If you’re with a larger carrier and you’ve been with them for several years, you may receive accident forgiveness. This means that the first accident that you have after having a clean record for years will be waived.

Any accident after that is chargeable and can hike up your rates.

Not all carriers offer accident forgiveness and the terms for the coverage are different from carrier to carrier.

To File or Not To File

If you have a non-fault loss, there’s not doubt that you should file the claim and collect the money that you need to pick up the pieces after a loss. For chargeable losses, you need to look at the possible increase and how much you’d pay out of pocket to come to a final decision.

Price the cost of insurance through multiple carriers at once by using an online rate comparison tool. If you find that a company will give you a better rate with your accident, it’s time to consider making the switch the save off of your auto insurance premiums. Enter your zip code in our FREE tool below to compare car insurance rates now!