How to handle denied car accident claims

Battling an auto insurance company over the payment of a claim isn’t something most people enjoy, and with good reason: Insurance carriers have much more experience dealing with claims than private individuals, and have deeper resources at their disposal.

In short, going up against a car insurance carrier can be an experience that drains your patience and your finances; however, there are times when it may be a worthwhile venture.

Below are a few things to keep in mind when disputing a car insurance claim.

Initial Action

If you’re unhappy with the claim figure given to you by an insurer, tell the insurance rep (typically an adjuster) that you feel it’s an inadequate amount. Explain your reasoning in a calm, rational, but firm manner.

Insurance adjusters usually have some wiggle room with the money they’re willing to pay. And, naturally, they’ll start at the low end of their range. If the adjuster or rep still won’t satisfy your request, ask to speak to a supervisor or someone else higher up within the company. It can be beneficial to send that person written documentation that presents your case in a logical manner.

If these steps fail to bring a fair claims settlement, consider filing a complaint with your state’s department of insurance. While this agency may be limited in how it can help you, the act of filing a complaint may nudge your insurance company in the right direction.

Hire an Independent Appraiser

If you can’t reach a claims agreement after these initial steps, you’ll need to escalate your efforts. Unfortunately, doing so will cost money.

Consider getting an impartial evaluation of your vehicle from an appraiser without any ties to the insurance company. Having an independent analysis of your situation that agrees with your assessment will strengthen your case. Send the report to your insurer and see what happens.

It’s also smart to contact a lawyer, especially one with considerable experience with car insurance claims. Many attorneys offer a free consultation, and from this you can receive a better understanding of how strong a case you have and if it’s worthwhile to continue your efforts.

Try Mediation or Arbitration

Mediation is a non-binding form of discussion between you and the insurance company, moderated by an unbiased third party. Legally, neither side has to abide by the recommendations given by the mediator; however, this process can promote a mutually agreeable settlement.

Meanwhile, with arbitration, both sides must follow the ruling of the arbitrator. You don’t need to have an attorney present your case in mediation, but you should consider doing so in arbitration because of the finality of the results.

Again, though, the more you heighten your efforts, the higher the costs, as mediators, arbitrators, and attorneys all command expensive fees.

Go to Small Claims Court

Depending on the nature of your claim, you may want to seek justice by going through small claims court (instead of using arbitration). You can argue your case without an attorney, although you may receive better results if you have one.

Proceed Wisely When Disputing Car Insurance Claims

You may be frustrated with the insurance company about what you perceive as an unfair claims amount, but it’s important to act in a restrained, unemotional manner throughout the appeals process.

Remember to start small, and gradually increase your aggressiveness. And, always be mindful of the possible costs involved – in terms of money, time, and aggravation – with continuing your fight.

If you have truly been frustrated with the whole claims experience, you might just be ready to get some quotes from some new insurance companies.

How to handle denied car accident claims

The safety net of car insurance is comforting when an accident does occur. In the state of New York, all drivers are required to have a liability policy with at least $25,000 in protection. If you get into an accident and file a claim with your insurance company, having it denied can make this already difficult process even more complicated. Why was your claim denied, and is there anything you can do about it? Learn more about your options.

Why Was Your Claim Denied?

It is critical to understand why the insurance company denied your claim before you process an appeal. This information will be in your claim denial letter, so read this document carefully. Insurance claims are denied for many reasons, but the most common ones include:

  • Your policy does not cover the costs of the accident
  • You missed a filing deadline or forgot to pay a premium on time
  • You are not named on the insurance policy
  • You were at fault for the accident
  • The damages claim exceeds your auto policy’s limit

How to Challenge the Denied Claim

Now that you know why your claim was denied, prepare to review any information and facts from the accident. Gather as much documentation and proof of the accident as you can to defend your appeal against claim adjusters, including photos, medical bills, and eyewitness statements. Providing copies of police and medical reporters and focusing on the facts of the accident can help support your original claim.

If you’ve exhausted all options with the insurance company, contact the New York State Department of Financial Services to submit a complaint against the insurance company if you believe your claim is justified. Ask your insurance provider for a letter detailing why your claim was denied. It may be necessary to hire an auto accident attorney to help dispute your claim against the insurance company.

There’s no reason to face your insurance company alone—an attorney can help walk you through the process. The dedicated team of Leav & Steinberg LLP handles a large range of personal injury cases throughout New York with successful results. Request your free consultation today if you believe that your accident claim has been wrongly denied.

Obtaining an insurance settlement is not always easy after an auto accident in Philadelphia. Insurance companies want to spend as little as possible – or nothing at all – to settle claims. An insurance claims adjuster could use many different tactics to dispute liability for an auto accident. If an insurer tries any of these strategies during your car accident case, contact a Philadelphia car accident attorney for assistance.

Comparative Negligence

Comparative negligence is the assertion that you, the claimant, contributed to your own injuries through an act of negligence. The insurance company may try to allege that your own neglect to fulfill a duty caused the accident or exacerbated your injuries. For example, the insurer may try to argue that you worsened your injuries by delaying medical care.

If the insurance company succeeds in disputing liability through a comparative negligence defense, you may receive less money for your damages. Under Pennsylvania General Assembly Statute 7102 , comparative negligence will reduce your compensatory award by an amount equal to your percentage of fault. You will still be eligible for partial recovery, however, as long as you were less than 51% responsible.

Preexisting Injuries

An insurance company may also try to avoid liability by claiming that your injuries were preexisting, or existed before the car accident. The insurer may try to prove that you had the injuries prior to the accident or that the crash did not cause the injuries in question. If you did have preexisting injuries, but the car accident exacerbated them, the insurance company could still owe you compensation. You or a Philadelphia injury attorney may have to prove the connection between your claimed injuries and the car accident through evidence such as medical records.

Missed Deadlines

If you missed any important deadlines during the filing process, the insurance company could use this against you to dispute liability. If you waited weeks to file your initial insurance claim after the car accident, for example, this could give the insurer grounds to deny your claim. You must act quickly after a car accident in Philadelphia to initiate the claims process. Use an attorney to help you file your insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit by the deadline and according to all applicable filing rules to avoid hurting your chances of securing a settlement.

Unreliable Plaintiff

A common tactic insurance providers use to refute liability is to assert that the plaintiff is unreliable. An insurance claims adjuster will ask you to give a recorded statement early on – sometimes as soon as the day of the car accident. Do not agree to give one. If you do, the insurance company could use it against you later. Your story might change as you learn more about your accident. The insurance company could compare your initial recorded statement with your current story and use the discrepancies to prove to a judge or jury that you are an unreliable witness. This could hurt your claim to damages.

Insufficient Evidence

The insurance company may allege insufficient evidence as a means to delay your settlement or avoid paying. It may request excessive amounts of evidence or documentation from you, such as medical records from your past that have nothing to do with your claimed injuries. If you need help gathering further evidence of fault or damages for an insurance claim, or if you believe the company is acting in bad faith, request assistance from a car accident attorney.

Bad Faith Tactics

Some insurance companies use bad faith tactics to dispute liability. Bad faith means the insurer is not treating the claim with the required amount of honesty, diligence and good faith. You could be a victim of insurance bad faith if the company denied your claim without reason or refused to offer a reasonable amount for your losses. If your lawyer finds evidence of bad faith, you could file an additional lawsuit against the insurance company. Contact a Philadelphia injury lawyer for help if an insurance company uses any method to dispute liability for your car accident or related injuries.

Do Not Let Your Insurance Take Advantage of You

If you were recently in an auto accident, you may be facing significant losses. From medical bills to the cost of car maintenance, the price quickly steepens to where you are wondering how you will pay for everything. You have paid premiums to your insurance company for years, so you might think that your insurer would show some loyalty when you have been injured in an accident. You would be wrong. Insurance companies are big businesses whose aim is to make a profit. They make a profit by collecting more in premiums than they pay out in claims. So it is in their interest to delay, deny or underpay your claim.

The attorneys at Needham Kepner & Fish LLP are car insurance claims attorneys who have an insider’s view of how insurance companies operate. When you choose to work with us, you gain the support of a legal team that understands insurers’ tactics, strategies and tricks. If you have been injured in an accident, you should focus on recovering your health. Let us deal with the insurance companies. If you feel as though your insurance company is not covering your losses the way that you need, contact us today and we will work with you to recover what you deserve.

Do Drivers Need to Carry Liability Insurance?

Every state requires that motorist carry insurance or other official documentation that claims that they can be financially responsible in the case of an accident. California requires drivers to carry liability insurance to cover injuries to other drivers. Under California law, the minimum liability insurance requirements for private passenger vehicles are:

  • $15,000 for injury or death to one person
  • $30,000 for injury or death to more than one person
  • $5,000 for damage to property

Unfortunately, not every driver is operating their vehicle legally. Some motorists choose to drive without proper insurance or expired insurance policies thinking that they will not face the consequences of an accident. Fortunately, most insurance companies cover this situation as well. When you buy car insurance in California, you may also purchase uninsured motorist coverage. Drivers may also add comprehensive and collision insurance to cover the cost of repairing or replacing their own vehicle if it is damaged or stolen.

Does “Med Pay Insurance” Cover My Medical Costs?

Many auto accidents are simple fender benders or accidents that simply require car maintenance and repairs. Unfortunately, accidents that cause bodily harm are also prevalent and can require significant medical attention that may result in crippling medical debt. Especially when another person causes the medical damages, compensation may be difficult to cover. For this reason, many people opt to be covered by additional insurance.

Medical payments, or “med pay,” coverage is optional insurance coverage in California. Regardless of fault, med pay coverage kicks in when you are in an accident and you or your passengers suffer bodily injury requiring medical care. Your insurance rates should not increase if you use med pay to cover injuries suffered in an accident that was not your fault. These types of claims are more unique and may require an experienced attorney to correctly file and ensure that compensation is recovered. One of the knowledgeable car accident lawyers at Needham Kepner & Fish LLP can help you with a med pay claim.

How Does Umbrella Insurance Coverage Fill the Gaps?

Many insurance companies provide a policy that can cover a variety of situations. This “umbrella” or excess insurance acts as a safety net. It provides liability coverage when the limits of your underlying auto or homeowners’ policies have been exhausted. Umbrella coverage is relatively cheap, and offers you peace of mind when you have been in an accident that threatens to deplete your basic insurance coverage. If you are attempting to recover any damages through an umbrella policy, you may benefit from the assistance of an attorney to ensure that you file properly and receive the coverage that you deserve.

Car Insurance Claim Attorneys Serve The Sacramento And San Francisco Areas

You deserve to be adequately covered by your insurance company. At Needham Kepner & Fish LLP, we work diligently to help our clients receive what they are due from insurance companies. We have experience representing individuals across California in a variety of situations, so do not hesitate to contact us today and we will assess your case. If your condition prevents you from visiting our office, we will visit you at your home or wherever is most convenient for you. To schedule a free consultation, contact us today at (408) 956-6949 or visit online. We handle injury cases on a contingent fee basis, which means that you pay us nothing unless you recover compensation.

After you file a claim with your car insurance company, the claim goes through a process that leads to a settlement. The exact way that your car insurance company investigates accident claims can vary depending on the following:

  • The nature and severity of the accident.
  • Your company’s own policies.
  • Whether the accident involved property damage, injuries, or both.

However, certain steps are common to most claims investigations. We’ll review these steps here.

Immediately After the Claim Is Filed

After you file your claim, a claims adjustor will be assigned to your case. The adjustor will review your policy to make sure that you are covered. He or she may contact you to ask for more details about the accident.

During the investigation, the adjustor may:

  • Request you send a copy of the police report for review.
  • Contact the other driver.
  • Talk to any listed witnesses to the accident.
  • Visit the accident scene.
  • Inspect your car for damages.
  • Take photos of your car.
  • Ask you to sign a medical release form in order to view your records.
  • Contact your medical providers for information regarding your injury expenses.

Medical Care and Vehicle Repair

Your insurance company will cover your injuries and repairs until fault is determined and then will negotiate with the other driver’s insurance company to decide who pays in the end.

The process of initial payment is “indemnification,” which means coverage for damages and losses.

If the other driver is found to be at fault, your insurance company will seek payment from his insurance company through the process of “subrogation.”

Repairs

Typically, you have several options when it comes to getting repairs for your vehicle:

  • Using an approved body shop. Your adjuster may request that you take your car to one of your car insurance company’s approved body shops for an estimate.
  • Getting quotes. The adjuster may ask you to go to several shops of your choice and obtain quotes to compare.
  • Choosing your own repair shop. You can get the repairs done at any location you choose; however, you may have to pay the difference between that shop’s estimate and the amount the insurer determines is a fair price.

Medical Bills

If your claim includes medical expenses from injuries from the accident, your claims adjuster will need to see evidence of your medical bills.

He or she may request that you sign a waiver to grant permission for your car insurance company to access your medical records. Before signing this document, you may wish to speak to a personal injury attorney about whether signing it is in your best interest. Once she has access to your records, information in your medical history may be used to lower your claim.

Review of Your Side of the Story

You will need to provide as much information as you can to get the best possible settlement. The adjuster will ask for your recollection of the events.

In addition, you may need to submit the following to your car insurance company.

  • Policy number (can be found on your insurance card).
  • Date of the accident.
  • Location of the accident.
  • Description of how the accident occurred.
  • Name and insurance information for the other party involved.
  • Name of the police department involved and the police report number (if applicable).

Review of Official Records

During the investigation phase, the adjuster reviews the case. Your rep may review the following information:

  • Amount of property damage.
  • Police reports.
  • DMV accident report.

Determination of Fault

One of the roles of your insurance adjuster is to determine fault. In most states, a driver does not need to be 0% or 100% at fault.

Your adjuster may decide that you are partially at fault (e.g., 70% responsible for the accident). If you are 70% responsible and the other driver is 30% responsible, your company may pay 70% of the settlement and the other driver’s car insurance company may pay the remaining 30%.

In some cases, the settlement is entirely paid by the car insurance company of the driver who has the majority of fault. Speak to your auto insurance agent to learn more.

Review of Claims

While reviewing claims, the claims adjuster may look at evidence such as:

  • Medical records.
  • Bills.
  • Evidence of property damage.
  • Proof of wage loss

The Role of Social Media

The adjuster will investigate the claimant (you). In addition to reviewing your claims history, car insurance companies are also likely to look you up online.

They may go to Facebook, Twitter, or other social media sites to make sure that you are not lying. For example, if you are claiming car damage for an accident Tuesday morning, and you post a picture of you with your car intact on Wednesday, your company will recognize the fraud.

Your car insurance company has a special investigations unit (SIU) to investigate suspected fraud. You can protect yourself on social media by:

  • Setting your privacy settings so that only approved people can look at your photos.
  • Avoiding posting photos or anything about your accident online.
  • Not filing a fraudulent claim.

Options to Resolve Claim Disputes

If you are unhappy with the settlement offer, you have some options:

  • Take the claim to the adjuster’s supervisor.
  • Mediation.
  • Arbitration.
  • Small claims court.
  • Hiring an attorney.

Professionals at the Lamber Goodnow legal team are just a click or call away. Let’s talk about your legal issues.

Article: What do I do if the other driver and insurance company denies liability?, Car Accident Insurance

How to handle denied car accident claims

Q: When you’re involved in a car accident, you can be confused and unsure of what to do next?

A: If someone else caused the accident, it’s easy to assume you’ll file a claim with their insurance company and get your car repaired. If you’re injured, you’ll allow the other insurance company to handle your medical bills, everything will be cared for, and you’ll move on with your life the way you were meant to from the start. It’s a simple process in your mind, but it’s anything but simple in reality.

There is no right or wrong way to file a claim, and there is no guarantee the other insurance company is going to cover the issues you’re having. In some instances, the other driver and his or her insurance company might do something shocking and deny they had anything to do with the accident.

Q: When the other party makes noises about denying liability for an accident, the entire situation shifts out of your favor?

We deal with insurance company denials everyday.
Give our office a call for a free consultation: 312-757-7777

Q: What Should I do if the Party is Denying Liability?

A: You’ve called to report the accident to the insurance company of the at-fault driver, and now you’re waiting on them to get back to you about your claim. They’ve had plenty of time to go over the paperwork and get the information they need, but they haven’t said anything to you at this point. When you call to find out where you stand in terms of your account, they tell you that they’ve decided they are not liable for the claim and won’t be paying anything to you or your family.

The first thing you should do is ask for proof. Why do they believe they owe you nothing? You want proof of their stance, and you want it immediately. They are required to provide you with the proof you need to find out whether or not they are liable. What they have that’s telling them they owe you nothing for the accident is not something they can keep private. You want to see their documentation of the incident, and they have no choice but to provide that for you. Once you have this information, you’re free to argue the point where it’s necessary.

The most common argument insurance companies use when denying claims is that the officers on the scene of the accident did not state it was the fault of their client. They’ll argue that nothing in the police accident report supports this information, and they’ll say they are paying nothing as a result. Your job now is to find proof that the accident was caused by someone else. This could be done by hiring an attorney to take your case.

Before you do that you might consider calling your own insurance company. Most insurance companies will pay the repairs and bills for you and then fight the other insurance company for reimbursement. You’ll need to pay your own deductible, but it’s usually more cost-effective to do this than it is to go through with paying for expensive repairs on your own. Call your insurance company and ask them what they suggest you do. Many might tell you the best thing you can do is file a complaint with the other insurer while they fight for reimbursement.

If that doesn’t work, your next step is to contact an attorney. This might not always be necessary, but it is if you have been injured and the medical bills are already beginning to accrue. If the other insurance company is denying your claim, you might need to go further to collect damages that will cover the cost of your repairs and your medical bills as a result of your injuries. An attorney can look at all the evidence from the accident, recreate the scene of the crime, and they can determine who is at-fault. This might include taking the other insurance company and the driver of the other car to court to have a judge make the final ruling. Since most insurance companies are unwilling to go that far, they usually offer a settlement.

If the other insurance company is denying the liability from the accident their client caused, you become easily frustrated. It happens more than you imagine, and there’s nothing wrong with feeling upset by this. Before you do anything you might regret, understand how the law works where you live. If you live in a no-fault state, it might not even matter if the other company denies the claim. They don’t owe you anything to begin with in a state like this one, and it might mean you are worried about nothing. Call your insurance company to find out what they can do and see what they recommend before you take action in a case like this one.

How Insurance Companies Minimize Low-Impact Auto Accident Claims

Low-impact auto accident cases, commonly defined as those with $1000 or less in property damage (though some companies define it as $5000 or less), are among the most common accident cases in the United States. Because of this, insurance companies do their best to minimize these sorts of claims where they can; even if they only save $50 on average with certain tactics, the sheer quantity of low-impact cases adds up to make them immense profit. Note that although they can do certain things to minimize your claim (even things that are dishonest or immoral), insurance companies can’t outright decline your claim on unreasonable grounds–doing so constitutes an illegal bad faith claim depending on your state .

Claiming Your Injuries Are Falsified

The definition of a low-impact car accident is one with $1000 or less in property damage. The definition says nothing about injuries, medical bills, and other damages. Insurance companies will generally insist that a low-impact accident means a low-speed, low-injury crash when in reality, this isn’t always true. Adjusters are trained to doubt your injuries and assume that you’re exaggerating in your reports. Whiplash , for example, is extremely common in low-speed collisions, yet insurance adjusters tend to jump to the conclusion that any “whiplash” you talk about is either faked or just unrelated neck pain/ stiffness. Seeing a medical professional after an accident of any scale will help generate medical records that can prove that your injuries are legitimate.

Making Quick, Easy Settlement Offers

How to handle denied car accident claimsLow-impact accident claims usually don’t involve enough money for an attorney to get involved, so insurance companies are bolder in offering small settlement amounts with a “take it or leave it” attitude. Doing so allows them to close your case quickly and in a manner that gives you very little room for negotiation or complaint while offering you an easy out that avoids the hassle of a normal case. At times, these settlement offers are relatively fair, but you should always go over them with an attorney to check for foul play.

Requesting Formal Statements

Insurance companies will likely request a recorded statement or other formalized statement from you—don’t give them one unless an attorney is present, period. You have no legal obligation to give a statement, and it will only ever be used against you, not to help you. Adjusters are looking for tiny discrepancies in what you say which can be used to minimize your claim. You said you’re “mostly fine,” but complained of whiplash later? That’s a discrepancy they’ll attack. Do you think you forgot to signal at that turn? That’s a Standard of Fault that makes you 50 percent or more at fault for your crash, so now, under Arizona’s comparative fault system, you’ll receive 50 percent or less of your normal compensation. Never risk giving a formal statement unless your attorney approves of it.

Arizona Low-Impact Accident Attorneys

Vehicles can handle low-speed collisions, hence why the term “low-impact” was invented in the first place. The human body, however, wasn’t designed by professional engineers to specifically withstand the forces of an accident; as such, you should never let a low-impact classification bar you from getting the compensation you deserve. Auto accident attorneys in Arizona are your first line of defense against dishonest minimization tactics, so before you accept any type of settlement, consult a lawyer. We at ELG can help, so please, contact us at (623) 877-3600 to schedule a free consultation , even if your case is low-impact.

Never let your auto insurance provider deny you coverage without a fight.

Though insurance experts insist that the overwhelming majority of automotive insurance claims are handled fairly and paid out under the terms provided, that hasn’t prevented consumers from being stiffed through a denied claim. If you’ve found yourself in this position, the first thing to do is determine if the details of your policy actually covered the accident you were in.

For example, if you get into an accident while running a red light, the insurer obviously won’t cover your claim. However, “fault,” isn’t always so black-and-white. Kevin Lynch, assistant professor of insurance at American College, notes that the driver of the middle car in a chain-reaction collision often believes they aren’t liable for damages, but your insurance company thinks otherwise.

“This always infuriates consumers,” Lynch told insurance pricing and information site InsuranceQuotes. “But the fact is you hit the car in front of you. And your insurance company will say that you weren’t responsible for starting the chain of events, but had you been back further, you wouldn’t have hit the other driver’s bumper.”

If the driver of your car isn’t on your insurance policy — like a child earning a learner’s permit, for example — that can also shift the blame your way. Using your car for a business like pizza delivery, for example, might also deny you a claim if you didn’t tell your insurer that you use the car for that purpose. Finally, limitations on auto insurance coverage matter as much for the other driver involved in an accident as much as they do for you. If you’re tooling around in your beater subcompact and total a $200,000 supercar, for instance, your policy’s $50,000 property damage limit will leave the other driver with about $150,000 more to recoup.

“This is why uninsured-underinsured motorist coverage is so important,” Amy Bach, executive director of California-based nonprofit consumer advocacy group United Policyholders, told InsuranceQuotes. “Too many drivers don’t understand this until it’s too late. What’s more, it’s important to understand the coverage limits on your own policy.”

If you’ve cleared all of those hurdles and still haven’t been paid, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners keeps a running list of every state’s insurance department in case you want to file a grievance. Before you do that, however, InsuranceQuotes suggests building a case as soon as the accident occurs. Take photos of your vehicle, the other vehicle, your injuries and relevant background and signage. Keep all of your billing and medical records and make sure you have everything on hand. Also, never admit fault once an accident has occurred and never say you haven’t been injured if you’re unsure. If an insurance adjuster calls later and asks how you’re feeling, don’t give the person any specifics. Don’t sign a medical authorization allowing the insurance company to gather your medical records and don’t allow yourself do be recorded unless you’ll lose coverage otherwise.

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“Drivers are advised to avoid giving recorded statements, which is something that most adjusters demand,” says Jordan Perch, driving expert and blogger for DMV.com. “If the adjuster is allowed to record the conversation, he or she might use the tape later to try and find potential flaws and inconsistencies in the driver’s statement that could hurt the value of his or her claim. Drivers are not required by law to give recorded statements.”

However, Simeone points out that you have a duty to comply with your own insurance company, so if they want to take a recorded statement you need to do it in order to not lose coverage.”

Also, don’t be rushed by the insurance adjuster, as Bach says the first offer they make is seldom their best offer. Also, be careful exactly what you say to your insurer regardless of if you’re at fault or not. The insurance company of the person in the other car can either obtain statements you gave to your own insurance company or subpoena that information if it all heads to court. If that other driver has no insurance, your own insurer may have to cover them and may be in no mood to pay you your full premium.

Also, don’t offer any more of an answer to a question than the insurer is asking for. If a representative asks, “Who, in your opinion, had the last opportunity to avoid the accident?,” Lynch says it’s O.K. to say that you assume the person who hit you had the last chance to avoid that collision. Don’t lie, but don’t offer more information than necessary.

“At the end of the day you can’t just rely on what your insurance company tells you,” Bach says. “You need to do your own research, keep your own records, and seek outside, independent opinions, because this is your life your car, and your future at stake.”

As we’ve noted before, what the U.S. driving public doesn’t know about car insurance is frightening. About 40% of you don’t know what it means when your car is totaled. About 28% of drivers think insurance pays the post-crash value of a totaled car, while 12% aren’t sure what happens when a car is totaled.

About 14% of people, including 23% of Millennials and people making $30,000 or less wrongfully believe insurance covers auto repairs. Even worse, 17% don’t know that where they live affects their insurance. Finally, a full 44% of you — especially those ages 18 to 29 (53%) — think driving a red car increases your insurance rates (it doesn’t).

Unfortunately, even if your claim is accepted, filing just one auto insurance claim can raise a policyholder’s premiums by hundreds of dollars each year. The average rate hike for the first claim nationwide is 44.1% (up 6% from just three years ago) after filing a single claim of $2,000 or more. That rate spike costs consumers $371 per year on average, but the pain is far worse in North Carolina (where rates increase 57.3% on average after one claim), Massachusetts (57.3%), Texas (59.9%), New Hampshire (60.3%) and and California (63.1%).

“The rate increases drivers pay after filing a claim keep getting bigger, and this trend is likely to continue,” says InsuranceQuotes analyst Laura Adams says, “It underscores just how important it is for consumers to shop and compare rates on a regular basis.”