Can an Accident or Ticket Raise My Insurance Rates? NY Injury Attorney Answers

Traffic-ticketA question I am frequently asked is: Can my insurance company raise my premium due to an accident or traffic ticket?

The answer is YES, unfortunately.

I want to share details about this answer from the official N.Y. Insurance Department website. It’s important for drivers to understand just how the insurance companies justify charging you more and the terminology they use.

Such an increase is known as a surcharge. Surcharges are based on the fact that a driver who has previously been at fault in one or more accidents, or has a record of traffic convictions, has an increased likelihood of being involved in future accidents.

Insurers “classify” drivers according to criteria such as:

  • Age
  • Location
  • Vehicle type and mileage

To further refine those classifications, many insurers use “merit rating plans,” a point system in which increases are applied according to an individual driver’s record (traffic convictions and accidents).

Surcharges are applied to liability (bodily injury and property damage), collision and no-fault (PIP) coverages, and are only allowed for:

  • Accidents involving bodily injury, or losses to property in excess of the accident reporting threshold ($1,000), where the insured driver is at fault, or
  • Convictions for certain violations which are chargeable under the Insurance Law.

No-one intends to get a traffic ticket or have a car accident. A surcharge may seem almost like a punishment, but it really a way for the insurance company to balance premiums against risk.

A surcharge is used as a tool to properly price the exposure the insurer is writing, NOT as a means to recoup payment made under a claim.

Another important point: The total dollar amount paid as the result of a claim does not affect the surcharge. For example: An insured person being surcharged for a particular accident will pay the same amount regardless if the damages were $10,ooo or $50,000.

Thanks for reading,

Jim

_________________________________________
James B. Reed, Esq.
Personal Injury & Malpractice Attorney
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William St., Elmira, NY 14902
Tel. (607) 733-8866 Fax. (607) 732-6062
Toll Free 1-800-943-3529
mailto:[email protected] www.zifflaw.com

E-mail me at [email protected] for two free books:
NY Car Accidents and NY Car Insurance Secrets YOU Need to Know.


NY Accident Lawyer Recommends Free Online Resource to “Sketch” an Accident Scene

AccidentSketch-demo-shotFree is ALWAYS good in my book!

There is a great new FREE resource available to all New York and Pennsylvania car accident victims. AccidentSketch is a online utility that anyone can use to graphically document a car accident. The service is free and doesn’t even require registration!

Why Drawing an Accurate Accident Sketch is Important

Insurance companies, courts and lawyers all require detailed depictions of an accident to successfully resolve claims for compensation. Often there will be disputes about where each car involved in an accident was prior to, during or after the car crash. Ther may be disputes about the direction of travel for each car. There may be disputes about what car had the right of way at the time of the accident.

Experienced accident lawyers know that working with an accident sketch is a great way for your clients to discuss with you the details of EXACTLY how an accident occurred.

I discovered the existence of the AccidentSketch service through the Lifehacker weblog. I think it is a fantastic tool to ease the process of making an accurate accident report – and it puts the means in the hands of the people who were involved in the crash. AccidentSketch is one of those tools that is essential, once you know it’s out there.

One Warning!

Because it is critically important that an accident sketch be as accurate as possible, I would strongly urge anyone who was injured in a car accident to consult with an experienced accident lawyer BEFORE submitting an accident scene sketch to any insurance company. Why? Because anything you submit to an insurance company, even your own insurance company, may be used against you by the insurance company for the other driver involved in your accident. Accordingly, you want to make certain that the sketch is 100% accurate and there is nothing in the sketch that might shoot you in the foot…..

How AccidentSketch works

The software is amazingly simple to use. All of the standard road elements are already created – just put them together like a puzzle to recreate the circumstances of an accident.

First, you select road “pieces” to map an accurate depiction of the road, be it a curve, a urn, an intersection or other type of street. The pieces drag and snap into a grid at a scale of 1:100.

Then select your vehicle type (trucks, motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians are also options) and place it in the road map you created. You can choose vehicle colors and input license plate numbers.

Continue to add vehicles and other details, such as traffic signs, lights, arrows, braking marks and more, until you have an accurate drawing of your accident.

You may even create a time-lapse version of the accident, by placing multiple images of vehicles on the map and using arrows to show their courses of action.

To complete your account of the accident, AccidentSketch allows you to type in a text report, where you can explain the accident in depth.

At this point, without paying a fee and with minimum effort, you will have a detailed, accurate and easy-to-follow accident report that will be invaluable information in settling insurance claims or a court case. Check out this sample: AccidentSketch-example.

Thanks for reading,
Jim
_________________________________________
James B. Reed, Esq.
New York Accident Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William St., Elmira, NY 14902
Tel. (607) 733-8866 Fax. (607) 732-6062
Toll Free 1-800-943-3529
mailto:[email protected] http://www.zifflaw.com

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Guest Post From the “Dark Side”: Why You Need To Insure Your Boat!

Boat-on-the-lakeFrom time to time, I ask other folks who work in the “injury” world — doctors, lawyers, physical therapists, insurance agents, etc. — to guest post on the NY Injury Law Blog.

Below is a guest post from Stephen Nagle, a local Allstate agent who has been selling insurance for 20+ years in the Elmira, Corning and Horseheads area.

While I joke that anyone from the insurance industry is my sworn enemy from the “Dark Side,” because I spend 95% of my day fighting to make sure insurance companies fairly settle my client’s claims, the bottom line is that insurance agents play a very important role in ensuring that people have the proper insurance coverage to protect them in the event of damage to a person or property.

Stephen does a great job explaining why it is so important to make sure your boat is properly insured:

The first thing that people think about when they look for insurance is how to cover the “value” of something they own: the home, car, boat, etc. If there is a loan or promissory note out on the value of the object they need to have coverage to indemnify the lender in the case of a loss.

The second thing people think about is their liability exposure related to use or ownership of the home, car, boat, etc. If what they own has little value or no loan, people do not think about their exposure to a lawsuit that could come from use or ownership of the “thing.” Studies show that people view it as an inconvenience to have liability coverage until they understand what they are protecting. If you have a vehicle of any sort, you have a liability exposure that you need to protect, particularly if you have a boat.

As an insurance agent for more than 20 years I ask my customers to think just a little differently. Sure, they need coverage for the value of a loan, but the value of the loan is usually less than the value of their future earnings. The “thing” that is lost is replaceable for an attainable price. The bank gets paid and the insurance company tries to restore the client to being whole.

However, if they are found legally responsible for damage to a third party there is a need to protect earning value far greater than the value of their things. In New York state, people need liability coverage to register a car whether or not they need coverage on the car itself. They give little thought to the value of the liability and other underlying coverage that could pay bills far and away more expensive than replacing the car.

Years ago, an elderly fisherman came into my office with his wife. He was eager for me to explain to his wife why he didn’t need coverage on his old fishing boat and his wife was just as eager for me to explain to him why he did. He didn’t want coverage on the boat, it was “only” worth about $5,000 and he had heard that his boat liability was covered by his homeowners policy. He recognized the need because he often had friends on board. He could hit another boat or damage a dock. Sometimes he took grandkids and their friends waterskiing or tubing – what if they were injured while having fun? He could be held responsible for a fuel spill if he dumped oil or gas overboard while fueling or transferring fuel.

He was partially correct. Homeowners policies extend liability to cover small boats subject to policy provisions which vary from company to company. It is typical to see coverage for boats under 50 HP with inboard/ inboard-outboards motors or under 50 HP for outboards and to sailboats under 26 feet. We reviewed his policy and he realized that his older cuddy cabin 21 footer with a 185 HP I/O was not covered.

A $500,000 liability policy covering anything for which he could be held legally liable with optional coverage for $5,000 med pay turned out to be less than $100 for a year. Full coverage for damage to the boat for ACV up to $5,000 was an additional $86. Needless to say, he took the full package. We wrote a personal umbrella policy for him as well, but that is another story.

– By Steven Nagle, Allstate Insurance in Horseheads. (607) 739-7991

Thanks for reading,
Jim
_________________________________________
James B. Reed, Esq.
Personal Injury & Malpractice Attorney
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William St., Elmira, NY 14902
Tel. (607) 733-8866 Fax. (607) 732-6062
Toll Free 1-800-943-3529
mailto:[email protected] http://www.zifflaw.com

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