In a perfect world, none of us would ever be involved in a car crash or become the victim of a hit-and-run. Because we cannot control the actions of others, however, drives must carry auto insurance – so in the event of injury and property damage, we are not overwhelmed with huge bills.
Many people are afraid to report car wrecks to their insurance company out of concern that the company will raise their premiums. This may be true in some instances, but not others. Following are a few things you should know before you decide to walk away without filing a claim.
First, and most importantly, your premiums may only go up if you are at fault in the collision. If another driver is at fault, insurance claims go through his or her insurance company, not yours.
However, if you are at fault, there is a chance that your premiums could go up. According to a recent study from InsuranceQuotes, drivers who filed claims of $2,000 or more in 2016 saw their premiums rise by an average of 44.1 percent in 2017. South Carolina in particular had an average rise of 36.2 percent.
Can insurance companies really do that?
It may seem illegal or unethical to be able to raise premiums at such a rapid rate. Unfortunately, it is indeed legal. Auto insurance companies base their premiums on what is called a “risk profile,” meaning how likely you are to make a future claim. The more risky you appear, the higher your rate – and the less risky you appear, the lower your rate.
Check your insurance policy
If you are hit in a parking lot and the guilty driver leaves the scene, or you’re a victim of a hit-and-run, you likely will not be able to get the other party’s insurance information. This is where you uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage kicks in. Designed to provide coverage in the event that the other driver has no or too little insurance, UM/UIM insurance pays for your injuries and property damage.
This coverage is typically optional, so ensure you have this coverage on your policy before you need it.
Weigh your options
If all of this talk about higher premiums is making you anxious, remember again that you only need to file a claim if you are at fault in the car wreck.
Every insurance company and policy is different, however, and you should be judicious in filing claims. If you are filing many small or frivolous claims on your policy, the company may raise your rates, believing you to be a risk.
If you have questions about your auto insurance policy or have been involved in a car wreck in South Carolina that wasn’t your fault, call our injury attorneys today. At McGowan, Hood & Felder, LLC we have the experience to secure you the compensation you deserve. Call us at 803-327-7800 or complete our contact form.
Randy is the former President of the South Carolina Association for Justice. He has been certified by the American Board of Professional Liability as a specialist in Medical Malpractice Law which is recognized by the South Carolina Bar. Randy has also been awarded the distinction of being a “Super Lawyer” 10 times in the last decade. He has over 25 years of experience helping injured people fight back against corporations, hospitals and wrong-doers.
Read more about S. Randall Hood