Will my insurance rate increase if I have to file a accident claim even though I was not at fault?

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Will my insurance rate increase if I have to file a accident claim even though I was not at fault?

My wife’s car was backed into by another driver in a truck in a parking lot resulting in a minor dent on the rear left hand side. My wife was parked so the other driver is clearly at fault. We got a phone message from the other driver’s insurance company and the claims person wants to know the claim number from my insurance company. If my wife is not responsible for the accident do we still have to submit a claim to our insurance company? This may inadvertently raise our rates through no fault of our own.

Asked on March 22, 2009 under Insurance Law, Rhode Island

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

Insurance companies typically only ding you for "chargeable accidents" in situations where you are at fault.

Yours is a classic "he said" and "she said" situation. Whether your wife was parked or moving is a question of fact, as if the other driver says she was not parked but backing up, who would an objective third party believe? Or perhaps he'll claim that she was parked but improperly parked, such as in a cross-walk, and that contributed to the accident. No reason not to believe your wife, but I was not there, you were not there, and who knows if there were any witnesses or what they may say? And who knows whether the other driver is the town's most respected clergy person or a thrice convicted perjurer?

The other driver obviously reported this to his insurance company, and if the driver's company is liable to its insured (perhaps under a collision policy) it has a subrogation claim against anyone responsible for the accident. If your wife was at fault, or (in most states) predominantly at fault, she may owe something.

Or your company may think she is at fault and rather than risk possibly greater liability, may agree to pay something. If it concludes your wife is at fault your rates will go up, but if the company concludes the other driver was in the wrong, you'll be okay. But the determnation as to who is at fault is always rough justice -- it is made unilaterally by the insurance company -- and does not involve a 3 month trial.


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