If you get into a car accident, you may wind up having to pay more for your insurance—even if you weren’t at fault.
Four out of five of the leading auto insurers charge customers in 48 states more after a crash, regardless of cause, according to a new report released Monday by the Consumer Federation of America. (California and Oklahoma bar insurers from raising rates when an accident is someone else's fault.) The report, which surveyed car insurance quotes from the five biggest insurers in 10 cities, found premiums increased an average of about $300 a year when another driver crashes into you.
Progressive was the worst offender, raising rates an average of almost 17% in every case where it was not illegal to do so, the CFA reported. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.
Geico and Farmers sometimes raised rates, while Allstate only “occasionally” increased premiums, according to the CFA. State Farm, meanwhile, never penalized drivers for not-at-fault accidents—the only company CFA analyzed that did not.
"Innocent drivers who don't cause accidents should not be charged more because someone else hit them," said J. Robert Hunter, CFA's director of insurance and the former insurance commissioner of Texas. "Most people know that if they cause an accident or get a ticket they could face a premium increase, but they don't expect to be punished if a reckless driver careens into them."
Another finding from the report: The more money you have, the lower the penalty you'll pay when an accident isn't your fault. Moderate-income drivers saw a 12.1% increase when involved in no-fault accidents—paying almost $265 more per year for their car insurance, the CFA found. Yet higher-income customers paid, on average, 8.3% more for auto insurance in these situations—about $99 more a year.
If you are in an accident that results in a higher premium, the CFA recommends questioning the increase and making a point to note that not all insurance companies raise rates. If nothing else, be a savvy shopper when looking at buying auto insurance and take into consideration the company’s policies before you sign up.