Will a car insurance claim raise my rates? That’s a common question heard after New York motor vehicle crashes, and for good reason. Car insurance is mandatory in New York, meaning that those who lawfully register cars in the state must show proof of insurance. The upshot is that insurance premium payments can total hundreds or even thousands of dollars each year.
In exchange for those premium payments, however unpleasant they are to pay, you get protection. If you drive dangerously and hurt someone, Bodily Injury Liability coverage can potentially save you from having to pay a judgment for the damages caused. In exchange for those premium payments, the insurance company will be required to defend and indemnify you.
If someone hurts you or your family members while in an insured vehicle, you can file a no-fault claim for first-party Personal Injury Protection, which will provide lost wages and medical expenses up to the insurance limits.
And if someone without car insurance causes serious, life-changing injury to you or family members who qualify as “insureds” under the policy, you may be able to file a claim for Supplementary Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (SUM) benefits. Your insurance company can pay up to the chosen limit and then pursue a separate claim against the person who caused the injury.
Car insurance is an important safety net that protects from personal liability in the event of a car accident. Most people understand that, but it can sometimes seem counterintuitive when your own insurance company pays for harm caused by another. Shouldn’t that person’s insurance company pay for the damages caused? After all, it was their insured who caused the damage. Why should you ask your own insurance company to pay for something you did not cause?
These are all reasonable questions.
Most people are insurance consumers, looking to get the best deal and optimize coverage based on different options in the marketplace, but when you are seriously injured and looking to maximize your recovery for pain and suffering you are first and foremost an insurance claimant. If everyday activities you once took for granted suddenly feel impossible and you don’t know when, or whether, you will return to work, the goal is to be restored. That is, made “whole.” That goal can only be achieved by identifying all applicable insurance coverage and putting those insurer carriers on notice of claim. Failure to do so, even when you are listed as the “named insured,” can result in a complete loss of coverage.
Choosing to not put your insurance company on notice after a car crash out of fear that you could see a premium increase is a risky proposition. Insurers are in the business of calculating risks. Different companies consider different actuarial criteria and employ divergent methodologies. This underwriting process involves an array of factors that will never be fully explained to the consumer, including previous insurance claims and whether those insurance claims were the result of the insured’s own wrongdoing or fault.
Concerns about a premium increase should not dissuade someone seriously injured in a New York car crash from putting insurers are on notice of claim. If you were injured in a New York car crash, the attorneys at William Mattar, P.C. would be happy to review the unique circumstances of your case to see if they can help. Our attorneys are adept at analyzing the situation and helping to identify all applicable insurance coverage, which allows clients to receive maximum compensation. Please do not hesitate to contact our office anytime.