Car accidents are a nuisance for anyone involved. Whether a victim has suffered a minor or major injury, they need to seek medical attention, their schedule is thrown off, and the additional inconvenience of having to take time to have a vehicle repaired all add to the irritation.
Unfortunately, many people who are involved in a car accident may also face additional problems when they think the entire matter is resolved. Their car insurance rates are going up. This may occur shortly after an accident or may not happen until their policy renews.
How a Car Accident Will Affect Your Insurances Rates in Iowa
In Iowa, everyone who operates a motor vehicle is required to have minimum liability coverage. This coverage is to ensure that if the driver is responsible for an accident, the victim may be compensated for their losses.
Some drivers also carry non-mandatory coverage including collision and uninsured/under-insured coverage. These optional coverage options will increase a driver’s premium. Additionally, anytime a driver files a claim with their insurer, they will likely see an increase in their premium. This may apply whether a driver is at fault for an accident, or someone else was at fault.
Filing a Car Insurance Claim in Iowa
According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), more than 11% of drivers in Iowa are uninsured. While this is better than many states, it still creates problems for someone who is involved in an accident which was not their fault.
Even when the other driver is uninsured or underinsured, before filing a car accident insurance claim they should take the following steps:
- Report the accident as required by Iowa law
- Review their insurance coverage exclusions and deductibles
- Verify the at-fault driver’s coverage
- Request a copy of the accident report which was filed by police
- Request a copy of the accident report filed by the other driver
- Contact an experienced car accident attorney
Taking these steps can help a car accident victim make better decisions before filing a claim and risking an increase in their insurance rates.
Tips to Protect Yourself and Your Rates When Involved in a Car Accident
In one recent year, the Iowa Department of Transportation (IOWADOT) reported there were more than 47,000 crashes in the state. Each crash means at least one person will be filing a claim with their insurance company. There may be some options to ensure a victim is not facing an insurance rate after an accident when they were not at fault. Some tips you can use to protect yourself and potentially your insurance rates include:
- Seek witness contact information — at the scene of the accident obtain the contact information for anyone who may have witnessed the accident. This step is helpful in clarifying what occurred leading up to the accident.
- Use caution when speaking about the accident — one of the most common errors a car accident victim may make is engaging in a discussion about the accident with the other driver or the police regarding the accident. Any indication the victim may be partially responsible for the accident will be put into the record.
- Document the scene — regardless of where the accident occurs, when physically able, a victim should attempt to take photographs of the scene. This can help later with the insurance claim and can help an attorney determine what road conditions were at the time of the wreck.
- Seek immediate medical attention — one of the most important steps a car accident victim should take is to seek medical care in the immediate aftermath of an accident. Documenting injuries is a necessity when filing a claim for injuries.
- Follow all directions from the medical team — victims should always make sure they follow any advice they receive from their medical team. This includes follow-up visits, taking time out of work, and taking any medications as prescribed.
- Contact an attorney — even if a victim thinks they can handle the claims process on their own, it is a good idea to contact a car accident lawyer. A lawyer can help a car accident victim understand their rights and provide them with information regarding their legal options.
Drivers who are involved in an accident with a vehicle insured in Iowa have three options for getting compensated for their losses. These include:
- Filing a claim with their own insurance company
- Filing a claim with the insurance company of the at-fault driver
- Filing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver
When seeking compensation from the insurer of the at-fault driver, or when filing a lawsuit, it may be possible to include increases in insurance rates with a claim. Victims should not have to bear the brunt of financial losses when they are not at fault for an accident. One way to hold the other driver financially accountable is to include the potential rate increase in the final claim.
Another thing that every accident victim should be aware of is the documents which are likely to be received following an accident. In most cases, they will receive release forms for medical information and other release forms. These forms should never be signed without speaking with an attorney first because they could jeopardize the rights a victim might otherwise have.
A car accident victim may see a car insurance rate increase after an accident, even when the accident was not their fault. Victims who have suffered an injury and damage to their vehicles in an accident which was not their fault can check to see if their policy has an accident forgiveness clause which can help stave off an increase.
Another option may be to change insurance carriers or seek compensation from the party who was at fault. Holding the responsible party financially accountable is not always easy which is why a victim should seek legal assistance following an Iowa car accident. Not only can a lawyer help explain what options a victim has, they can help ensure the rights they have under Iowa laws are protected.
Seek Legal Help Following Iowa Car Accidents
Those who are involved in a crash on Iowa roadways should contact a car accident attorney to get legal advice before filing an insurance claim. In most cases, a free consultation can help ensure a victim understands their legal rights and options. Call us at 515-444-4000 as soon as possible for a free consultation.