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    Personal Insurance Blog

    Do insurance companies charge for “Not-at-fault” accidents?

    Posted by Geoffrey Gordon

    Thu, May 02, 2019 @ 10:50 AM

    Short answer is yes, most insurance companies do add a charge for accidents even when you are less than 50% at-fault. 

    Most national companies have included this as a risk factor for years.  When national insurance carriers came in to Massachusetts, they employed risk factors that improved their models, as long as they didn’t violate existing state regulations.   One prohibited risk factor is the use of credit scoring for pricing auto insurance.  Used in 49 other states, here credit cannot be used as a rating factor for your auto insurance costs.  But “Not-at-fault” accidents can be.

    Gordon Truck accident  claimThe practice of charging for not-at-fault accidents Is relatively new in Massachusetts for traditional Massachusetts-only carriers.  But models here have followed the national model more closely ever since ‘managed competition’ was introduced in 2009.  

    Why do they charge when I’m not at fault?

    “At-fault” in Massachusetts has been the metric where all you need was for the other driver to be 51% or more at fault, and you were good.   They get the points, and you don’t.   This is reflected in the “Standards-of-Fault,  a boiling down of nearly a century of traffic case law, to identify “If XYZ happens, then the driver is assumed to be more than 50% at-fault.”  These standards still matter when at-fault points are assigned, so they’re worth knowing.  What they fail to acknowledge adequately is ‘contributory negligence’.

    Contributory negligence acknowledges the reality that most accidents are not completely black and white.  More often we see 70-30, 60-40 or some other variation other than 100% - 0%, such as when someone hits your legally parked car.

    What role does subrogation play?   (What is Subrogation?)

    Subrogation is the process where, after the accident bills have been paid, the insurance company lawyers settle up.   For example, suppose I run a stop sign and hit your car.    You go to your insurance company; they pay the collision and your rental while your car is being fixed.  Once that claim is paid, your insurance company comes to my company and says, YOUR driver (meaning me) caused this accident where we paid collision and rental.  Here’s our bill.   If my company declines to pay, they go to court and a judge says, ‘Pay the bill’ to my carrier.   Since everybody knows this, they rarely go to court and resolve these issues based on known documented factors.    

    Let’s look at a more common example.  Suppose I come through a ‘yield’ sign; but it’s dusk and you don’t have your headlights on.    Assuming the same damage as in the previous example, my company could argue that you were 30% at fault for driving without headlights at dusk.  So they pay only 70% of the bill.   This process involves lots of dollars, so both sides take these negotiations seriously.   Some insurance companies do a better job than others.

    One of our carriers only makes a risk charge if the at-fault cost share is greater than $1,000.  We like this approach as it ignores smaller accidents especially when you contributed less to the accident.

    What can I do as a driver?

    Practice defensive driving.    If you’re in an accident, document it.  Get a picture of the other driver’s license and registration.  Take pictures of damage to both vehicles, and note the time (especially dusk or dawn), and road conditions.  Complete your operators report as quickly as possible so you remember details, and document them.  Imagine your insurance company subrogation advocate looking for reasons to pay the other carrier less. This might result in no effect on your future rates.

    Tags: car accidents, reducing risk, subrogation, contributory negligence, Not-at-fault, fault

    Some of the Best Insurance

    Posted by Julia Kirslis

    Mon, Mar 04, 2013 @ 10:09 AM

    Insure yourself with safety tips from Andrew Gordon Inc InsuranceSome of the best insurance is policy-free.

    A lot of the time, insurance is about the money. Yes, yes, we understand. We pay bills too; we know what it's like to deal with insurance. Car insurance, home insurance, life insurance- it just seems to add up WAY too quickly for comfort. There are other ways to be comfortable too.

    What am I talking about now?

    I'm talking about things like seatbelts and helmets. These things are available to you, and definitely worth it. Have you ever bought a car without a seat belt? (The answer should hopefully be "no"). The seatbelt is there for you. What if you ever got into an accident? What if another driver's car simply SMASHES yours? That tiny little belt, strapped across your waist and over your shoulder, could be the very thing that saves your life. There could never be a price put on that.

    Helmets are the same way. For a one-time fee to buy the helmet, you get super extra head protection. Falling off a bike, skiing into a tree- there are just so many FUN things that can be so RISKY. So why not just wear the helmet? Again, what's the value of the helmet versus the value of your brain, or even, your life? That thirty dollar helmet doesn't seem so expensive now.

    These items that are made available for safety are truly only there to: KEEP. YOU. SAFE.

    If you look closely, you can see that there is insurance underlying everything. Insurance ensures minimal loss. Insure your children from drowning by taking them to swim lessons, ensure your feet from the cold by purchasing and wearing warm wool socks, ensure your knees and elbows with pads when you first learn how to rollerskate. The ways to insure yourself from loss never seem to end. And what is insurance, after all?

    We remind ourselves that insurance is protection against loss, a guarantee of safety and security. We do these things everyday, whether unconsciously or consciously. That's why we do things like taking swimming lessons- to reduce our risk of having fun with something enjoyable.

    It only makes sense, right? We want to enjoy our lives with the least possible amount of risk involved. As a result, we do things that prevent injury and other forms of pain- such as financial pain. Sometimes the financial pain clouds our vision. Sometimes other things, such as being lazy, also cloud our vision. It takes not even a second to buckle a seatbelt, so why not do it? Why not buy the helmet and prevent the brain damage?

    Take advantage of some of these risk reducers from the get-go. You'll never know when disaster will strike, and being prepared sooner rather than later is best because sometimes, later is too late.

    If you have any questions on reducing your risk, or about insurance in general, feel free to contact us by clicking the button below. Learn more about personal insurance here.

    Contact Us

    Julia Kirslis

    Tags: risk, management, insurance, seatbelts, helmets, policy free insurance, reducing risk, cheap, protection

    Winter Preparation for the Exterior of Your Home

    Posted by Val Feeney

    Tue, Sep 20, 2011 @ 06:19 PM

    Protect both the interior and exterior of your home this winter with homeowners from Gordon InsurancePreparing the inside of your home for the impending cold weather is an important annual task in the northeast.  An often overlooked chore, however, is ensuring that the exterior of your home is prepared as well.

    DRAINS

    Cleaning your gutters after the leaves have all fallen off the trees can prevent damage to your roof, the fascia, and even your basement and crawlspace. If rain water and snow cannot travel down the spouts, it's going up and over...potentially damaging your garden beds located under those gutters, too. Before the first snow at a minimum, all gutters should be checked for debris and any downspout clogs. Ideally you'll have those gutters cleaned out when they're dry. If you have anywhere near the number of leaves we do, you'll be doing this cleaning more than once.

    TREES

    Take the time to visually inspect your trees for weak limbs.  Snow and ice that builds up can cause limbs to crack and fall, damaging anything underneath, including your roof, shed or fence. There is great satisfaction in cutting down these limbs and hauling them away. HOWEVER, any trees that are near ANY power lines are best left to experts. Terrible accidents can happen if a homeowner's pruning tools come into contact with an energized wire.  

    WATER CONNECTIONS

    All water connections on the outside of the house should be drained and closed tightly. If not done correctly, the water pipe leading into the house may freeze and crack, rendering it useless and expensive to fix next spring. Hoses and sprinklers should also be drained, coiled, and put away.

    LAWN

    Winterizing your lawn is an important step so you do not have to spend additional money next spring putting it back together.  All leaves, acorns, and twigs should be raked; if left in place, this debris will smother the grass and not allow air to get to the soil. Grass can be cut until the first frost. Applying proper fertilizer to the lawn before this event, preferably after a fresh cut, is important as it will keep the grass healthy and strong. Any shrubs that are overgrown should be cut back, allowing them to withstand heavy snow. 

    FURNITURE

    All of your outdoor patio furniture and decor should be cleaned and put away to prevent damage from the elements that can split wood, peel paint, and rust or rot joints. High winds alone can send lawn chairs into your neighbor's yard or the middle of the street. Pools should be properly drained and covered. 

     

    Preventative measures will be well worth your weekend time when you endure another winter without an insurance claim. When your home and your yard are intact next spring your weekends can be spent on the golf course!  Should we be faced with a significant weather event, FEMA is a great information resource. Of course the Gordon Atlantic Insurance professionals always welcome your calls. Our toll free number is 1-800-649-3252. Prefer to type versus talk? Use the form to the left of this blog.

     

    Tags: home, winter, risk, safety, lawn care, homeowners claim, preparation, reducing risk, exterior, roof, lawn, gutter cleaning, winter storm

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