A first-person shot of a person driving a car while texting on their phone.Getting in an accident is already stressful enough, but before even a single cent of damages is paid, you may be worried about the long-term consequences. Namely, will this make my car insurance more expensive?

Hundreds of different factors go into calculating your insurance premiums, including your accident history and history of citations. Fortunately, Connecticut law forbids insurance companies from raising your premiums after an accident where you were determined to be not at-fault.

On the other hand, if you were issued a ticket for distracted driving — even if you weren’t blamed for the accident’s cause — carriers have the option to raise your insurance premiums.

The risk of rising rates is one major reason to refer to a Connecticut car accident attorney after you have been involved in a car accident where another party was likely at fault, in part or in full. It’s especially important to investigate your crash and determine fault with precision when you have been hurt.

Bert McDowell Injury Law can provide you with a free case review to discuss your situation and help you predict the outlook for what lies ahead. Call (203) 590-9169 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation with an experienced Connecticut injury law firm today.

How Much Will a Distracted Driving Ticket Affect My Insurance Rates?

Connecticut drivers have good reason to be worried about how much they’ll pay for insurance after receiving a distracted driving citation. A study by Market Watch found that Connecticut is the second-most expensive state for insurance rates, with drivers paying an average of just over $1,500 per year for the state-required minimum liability coverage.

Insurance carriers set rates based on the driver’s overall risk profile. Factors that can affect their premiums include:

  • Their history of being at fault for accidents
  • Their history of receiving citations for dangerous driving
  • The year, make, and model of their vehicle
  • Whether the vehicle is shared with risky drivers, such as teens
  • Their age
  • Their history of filing claims with the company
  • The likelihood of an accident occurring where they live and work
  • Whether they qualify for discounts, such as a safe driving discount
  • Their credit score

Of these factors, being in an accident where you were determined to be the primary cause is likely to trigger the biggest rate hike. However, receiving speeding or distracted driving tickets can cause rates to increase, as well.

A study conducted by Zebra found that Connecticut has the biggest rate jump of any state after a driver has been convicted for a violation involving distracted driving. Drivers will pay an average distracted driving increase of 64% after a citation, particularly if they have violated state laws that forbid the use of their phone while driving.

Note that, many times, if you have been involved in an accident where you were not at fault, you can still be issued a ticket for cell phone use without a hands-free device in Connecticut. The state’s hands-free law only applies to devices with a screen that isn’t solely used for GPS navigation, but police officers can still issue a separate, albeit smaller, citation for any form of distracted driving, and that includes listening to loud music, eating, applying makeup, talking to passengers, or even “zoning out” on the road.

The risk of a premium increase — not to mention being involved in a catastrophic accident — is one major reason to avoid distracted driving, period.

What if I’m Considered Not at Fault for the Accident but Was Issued a Distracted Driving Ticket?

Police officers who respond to the scene of the accident have the primary job of recording the accident details on an official crash report. At the same time, they are tasked with continuing their enforcement of public safety in general.

If they determine that someone was likely committing a moving violation at the time of the accident, such as texting while driving, then they are required to issue a ticket, even if the act was determined not to be a significant cause of the accident.

Many times, drivers are shocked to be issued a ticket for speeding, failure to yield, or otherwise disregarding traffic laws after they have been hit by someone doing something much more dangerous, such as running a red light. Drivers may protest that, even if they didn’t commit the violation, the person who hit them still would have caused the accident.

Police reports keep likely cause and citations issued as separate categories for this exact reason. In these situations, your premiums will increase from the citation you were issued, but you should not have to pay any extra for being involved in an accident that was not your fault.

With that said, insurers have the option to accept or deny fault when they receive a claim. If they have evidence that you weren’t driving in a perfectly safe manner, they can argue that you were partially at fault for the collision — even if that runs contrary to the conclusion drawn by police.

Sharing fault means that your total amount of claimable damages is reduced by that portion of assigned blame. In other words, insurers get to whittle down your settlement while also likely causing your rates to rise in the process.

Partial determinations of fault can still affect your car insurance liability premiums, after all.

The risk of this situation coming to bear is one major reason why it can be so critical to work with a car accident attorney following your wreck. Your attorney will help you investigate the accident’s cause, determine fault objectively, and then pursue at-fault parties for the full extent of damages from which you have suffered.

If I’m Hit by a Distracted Driver, Will That Cause My Premiums to Increase?

In Connecticut, insurers aren’t supposed to raise your rates just because you were involved in a crash that wasn’t your fault — provided that you filed a claim under the other driver’s insurance. If, therefore, you were hit by someone else who was distracted and who was determined to have been the primary cause of the accident, your premiums should not go up.

With that said, you may still see a small increase if your vehicle is determined to be less safe after the accident. This increase can be offset by the reduction in the value of the vehicle as a result of being in a crash, but you should still watch out for any fluctuations following the crash.

If you see an increase, call or email your insurer to see if they can provide justification for the rate hike.

What Can I Do to Make My Premiums Cheaper After a Ticket or Being Involved in a Wreck?

You can expect your car insurance premiums to rise about 43%, on average, after an accident, according to data from the U.S. News and World Report.

Insurance carriers use a shared database called the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange, or “CLUE,” to keep track of important claims events like wrecks. The data on this system is typically kept for seven years, meaning that you can expect an accident to affect your rate for at least that long.

Your insurer will also look at your motor vehicle record (MVR) for the state you currently reside. These records typically maintain data for citations, lapses in coverage or registration, etc, solely in regard to the state where the vehicle is registered.

However, just because you move, don’t assume that you get your slate wiped clean. Insurers may look more deeply into your driving record in other states if you have multiple addresses or just recently moved.

These records can stick with you for quite a long time, dogging your finances and making it harder to secure full coverage at a reasonable price. Fortunately, you may have some options for chipping away at the cost of insurance premiums, even after tickets or a history of claims.

Potential ways to reduce your car insurance rates after an increase include:

  • Asking for accident forgiveness — Carriers like Farmers, Nationwide, Allstate, Travelers, and Progressive offer accident forgiveness, meaning you can avoid a premium increase if you qualify. To qualify, you may need to purchase a special plan, or you may be required to have a clean driving record for five years (or more!).
  • Bundle policies — Carriers offer premium discounts when you include multiple vehicles and/or add on policies like homeowner’s insurance under your account.
  • Defensive driver classes — Drivers older than 55 can often have their premiums lowered by taking a defensive driving course every few years.
  • Look for a special member discount — Some carriers provide discounts if you or an immediate family member is in law enforcement, the military, a government agency, etc. You may also qualify if you are an alumni of certain institutions or clubs or a member of certain professional associations.
  • Install a telematics device — These devices monitor your driving, gathering data for the company while giving them information on your driving habits, which can potentially lead to lower rates depending on how you drive.
  • Buy a cheaper or safer car — Luxury cars, performance vehicles, and vehicles likely to be stolen or involved in wrecks pay higher premiums, while cheaper vehicles and those with better safety records will qualify for lower rates.
  • Pay for the whole year at once — Paying all your annual premiums at once often qualifies you for a significant discount compared to paying month-to-month.

Reach out to Connecticut Car Accident Lawyers When You Have Been Hurt

Distracted driving is always dangerous, but that doesn’t mean you deserve to get hurt just because you were using your phone or daydreaming at the time you were hit.

Fault is officially determined by the courts, and most cases settle before they get to that stage. Instead, insurers typically accept or deny fault based on the results of an investigation.

Bert McDowell Injury Law can help you if we believe you were not at fault for your crash, either partially or fully. If you’re struggling to pay medical bills and deal with other concerns like paying possible premium increases, then we can be here for you.

Find out how much your case could be worth and what legal options are available during a free consultation when you call (203) 590-9169 or contact us online.