We buy car insurance to protect ourselves against severe economic loss in the event of an accident. File a claim, and your insurance company is obligated to pay for any losses covered by your policy. The only question is whether or not your rates will go up as a result.
There is no simple, black-and-white answer to the higher rates question. Insurance companies are allowed to set their own policies within reason. All of them look at a driver’s record when calculating rates, which is why so many people are afraid of higher rates after an accident.
There are some insurance companies that offer something known as ‘accident forgiveness’. This is a policy option that allows rates to stay the same after a driver’s first accident within a given year. It is a benefit generally offered to the best drivers with the best records. Unfortunately, not all insurance companies offer it.
If yours does, it can’t hurt to inquire. You may or may not qualify, based on your driving history, but it never hurts to ask. Opting in will keep your rates flat after your first accident.
The other thing to consider is that some insurance companies base post-accident rate increases on fault. In other words, you insurer may not raise your rates if you are involved in an accident proved to be the fault of another driver. But this is true only in states that have a fault-based system in place. If you live in a state with a no-fault system, your rates will probably go up after any accident – whether you are to blame or not.
In the end, the only way to know for sure is to ask your insurance company.