November 13, 2009

What Does “At-Fault” Mean and How Does it Affect Insurance?

If you’ve been in an auto accident, whether you were the cause of that accident can have a lot to do with what kind of auto insurance rates you may be paying in the future. An accident will result in an auto insurance claim, and if you’re found to be “at-fault” in that claim, meaning you caused the accident, your insurance company will have to pay for the damages to your car and to the other person’s car. If there are injuries, your auto insurance company is also responsible for medical bills up to a certain dollar amount.

An auto accident is never enjoyable, and neither is an auto insurance claim, but they are facts of life, and they happen to almost everyone at some point. The best thing is to be as prepared as possible by having good quality auto insurance with high coverage amounts from a reputable company that you know will be there for you. Being at fault in an insurance claim can have other repercussions, as well. You may end up with points on your driver’s license, have to go to traffic school, and will likely see your auto insurance rates go up. If you are found to be at-fault, your provider can also cancel your insurance policy. Luckily, most auto insurance companies won’t do this for one auto accident. If you have a history of driving problems, though, that accident could cause a cancellation. When this happens, you need high-risk insurance — a type of coverage that can be quite expensive. After this, another auto insurance claim could make you almost uninsurable — at least for a price that you could afford.

The best thing to do is simply never to cause an auto accident, but that’s also not overly realistic. Everyone has the potential to make a mistake or a bad judgment call, and those can easily result in an auto insurance claim. Most people who are at fault in an auto accident don’t mean to be. They just got distracted, thought that they had time to make their turn, or honestly didn’t see the other car. Often the weather is bad or it’s dark outside, or both. However, being at fault can cause you serious problems. If you’ve been found to be guilty of causing the accident, and if there are other circumstances — like drinking, texting while driving, or some other obvious issue — a lawsuit is usually more likely, as well as potential criminal charges. Make sure, if you are found to be at fault that you work with your insurance company and the authorities. It’s a much better situation that way.