A car accident can happen in seconds, but you can expect to endure up to five years of higher auto insurance premiums after filing your claim.
According to a study by Insurancequotes.com, if a 45-year-old married woman in Illinois with a perfect driving record and excellent credit has just one accident where she is at fault, a claim of $2,000 or more will increase her insurance rates 35 percent.
Mess up again in the same year? She'd pay 104 percent more for car insurance than a claim-free driver.
The insurance quote company hired Quadrant Information Services to conduct the study, which looked at six large carriers in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It assumed a $2,000 claim and policy limits of $100,000 for injury liability for one person, $300,000 for all injuries and a $500 deductible on collision and comprehensive coverage.
If your accident occurs in Massachusetts, your premiums will really jump. One at-fault accident there increases premiums by 76 percent versus the national average of 41 percent.
The lesson: Drivers may want to think twice about filling a small claim if it isn't necessary, said Laura Adams, a senior analyst with the site.
Also, try not to be injured in a car accident in California. Filing a bodily injury claim in that state will drive up insurance costs 86 percent.
Injuries are by far the most costly of claims for insurance companies because hospitals charge more for treating bruises than auto body shops do for working out dents. The average bodily injury claim cost $15,443 in 2013 versus the average property damage claim of $3,231.
The good news is that noncollision related claims (such as theft) barely impact insurance premiums. And if it isn't your fault, the other person's insurance typically will cover the claim and your rates won't be affected.