If you've just been in a car accident, you may be stressing about how to keep your out-of-pocket costs and insurance rates low. Here are some steps to take to ensure that you don't pay more than you have to.
Document and Report the Accident Right Away
While it may seem counterintuitive, reporting even smaller accidents to your insurance company right away can help to protect your wallet. It serves to pin down the details of what happened and the damage that occurred as a result of your accident. You may hope that the other party simply won't file a claim, but this leaves open the risk that they will apply for a claim and add damages that occurred after the date of your accident. An auto accident attorney should be hired any time there is a dispute about the extent of damage caused in the accident, and also when there is debate about the party at fault for the accident.
Look for Forgiveness Policies
Some auto insurance companies have an accident forgiveness policy in their plans. Essentially, if you haven't been in a wreck within a certain period of time, they will forego raising your premiums as a result of the damage. If you don't have one of these clauses in your insurance plan, maybe now is a good time to look for a new plan that includes this clause.
Take a Corrective Driving Course
If the accident was labeled as your fault, this can be a big hit to your insurance premiums. In some cases, you can counteract this hit by taking a corrective driver's education course. This course is a little bit different than one you might have taken as a teenager; it focuses on how to be a good defensive driver and deal with potential hazards and conflicts on the road. Some of these courses have a substantial online portion, which makes them convenient for working adults. Although it's a few hundred dollars' investment upfront, it may help to stave off an insurance increase over the long haul.
Switch to a New Insurer
If you do end up getting your insurance rates raised as a result of your accident, this can be a big signal that it's time to give a new car insurance company a chance. Doing a search for new rates every once in a while can help keep you from overpaying. Your financial or personal situation may have changed since the last time you were asking for quotes, and insurers' criteria might also change over the course of several years. You may be able to get a better deal simply by changing the details of your plan as well, such as the amount of your deductible.