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Knowing Your Insurance Rights

When you are involved in a car accident, whether you were at fault or not, one of the first things it is recommended you do is contact your insurance company and report the accident. However, when many people are not at fault in an accident, they fail to report the accident for fear of repercussions from their insurance company, specifically, raising their insurance rates even if they were not at fault for the accident.

Under the OCGA (Official Code of Georgia Annotated), section 33-9-40 prohibits motor vehicle surcharges relating to accidents in which the insured is not at fault. Specifically, it states that no insurer shall surcharge the premium or rate they charge on a policy of motor vehicle insurance or cancel such policy as the result of an insured person's involvement in a multivehicle accident when such person was not at fault in such accident. What this means is that those people who have been involved in an accident cannot have their premiums raised or the policy canceled by the insurance company during the subject policy period.

However, despite the fact that an insurance company cannot raise your rates or cancel your policy because you were involved an accident in which you were not at fault, it does not mean that the insurance provider can refuse to renew your policy once it has run out. The same statutes that prohibit insurers from cancelling automobile policies as a result of the insured’s involvement in a multivehicle accident do not prohibit insurers from declining to renew the insured’s policy after the insured was involved in two accidents for which they were not at fault.

OCGA section 33-24-45 covers this, saying that if a policyholder has two such accidents, where they are not at fault, within a 36 month period, an insurer may decline to extend the policy. Since most policies are written for a term of either six months or one year, if an insurer chooses not to renew a policy, there is usually little the insured can do. Additionally, it is likely that it is perfectly within an insurance company’s prerogative to raise the rate on your next policy if you choose to renew, based solely on being involved in an accident that you were not at fault for.

While there is currently no case law regarding this in Georgia, there was a case in Texas that dealt with this case, and because of this, while an insurer cannot raise rates during a policy, they very well may raise your rates after your policy has expired due solely to an accident for which you were not at fault.

If you have been involved in an accident, whether you were at fault or not, it is a good idea to contact an attorney. The personal injury attorneys at Goldstein & Hayes, P.C. are experienced in all types of personal injury lawsuits. Contact them if you have suffered an injury in an automobile accident.