Insurance claims my fault and warns they may surcharge my full-coverage policy up to 3 yrs, increase my rates and possibly not renew – legal?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Written by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: Feb 16, 2012

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Insurance Question from Sparta, MI

Asked on 02/16/2012

Insurance claims my fault and warns they may surcharge my full-coverage policy up to 3 yrs, increase my rates and possibly not renew – legal? My agent writes, "I have to forewarn you here...if you file a claim [insurance] will consider this at-fault and may surcharge your rates for up to 3 years. Also if you were to have another claim they may even non-renew your policy." No other vehicles were involved and no tickets issued in this Michigan accident. I have never filed a claim. I pay for full-coverage already, can they legally surcharge for up to 3 years? Can I dispute their claim that I am at fault?

Answer given on February 19, 2012

If you had a single car accident, it is hard to defend that the accident was not your fault, unless there were weather conditions that could have caused the accident. Even then, you could be considered at fault for driving unsafely for conditions.Each insurance company files their rates with the state and most include a surcharge for an at fault accident. The surcharge generally remains on your record for three years, and with some insurance companies, even longer. Non-renewal can be applied if there are multiple tickets and/or accidents in a three year period, but if you have been a long time client you may not face such a threat unless there are numerous incidents.I think the agent is trying to make you aware of what could happen if their are future claims. If the damages in this incident are minor he may want you to consider repairing the car yourself. Consider your deductible and the total damages to see if you can afford to fix your car without submitting a claim.

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