Our clients are always concerned about one thing when they are deciding whether to make a claim under their uninsured motorist coverage: whether their insurance company will raise their rates.
Understandably, they are a little worried about suing their own insurance company.
At Kiefer & Kiefer, we have been helping people in Louisiana deal with personal injury claims after a car accident for generations. Read on to learn from our team how this type of claim will or won’t affect your insurance rates.
What is Uninsured Motorist Insurance?
When you sign up for automobile insurance in Louisiana, you have the option of purchasing uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist insurance in addition to your liability coverage.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance is insurance that you purchase that steps in to cover you when another driver is not insured or does not have enough insurance to cover your damages.
In fact, in Louisiana, you have to specifically reject this type of coverage if you do not want to purchase it.
So basically, you are buying insurance to step in if another person injures you and does not have enough insurance.
You can also use this coverage if you are involved in a hit-and-run accident in Louisiana and you have property damage or an independent witness.
Can My Insurance Drop Me or Raise My Rates if I make This Type of Claim?
In Louisiana, it is completely illegal for an insurance company to raise your rates or drop you if you file an uninsured motorist claim.
The only way they can penalize you is for an at-fault accident.
Louisiana R.S. 22:1284 states:
A. No insurer shall increase the rate, increase or add a surcharge, cancel, or fail to renew any policy of motor vehicle insurance when such action is based on consideration of one or more nonfault incidents.
B. In this Section, “nonfault incident” means an accident, collision, or other incident involving a vehicle covered by a policy issued by the insurer in which the driver of the insured vehicle was not at fault, regardless of whether the incident was reported to any law enforcement agency.
So, the short answer is that if you are not at fault and you make a claim under your own insurance, your insurance company cannot drop you or raise your rates.
What Happens if My Insurance Company Does Try to Drop Me?
If it turns out that your insurance company does drop you or raise your rates after you make an uninsured motorist claim or following a non-fault accident, they can be liable to you for a premium refund, damages, and attorney’s fees.
Louisiana R.S. 22:1284 states:
C. Any insurer who violates this Section shall refund to the insured person the amount of premium which was paid which exceeded the premium which would have been charged if the insurer had complied with this Section, together with a penalty payment in amount equal to triple the amount of the refund or one thousand dollars, whichever is greater. The insured shall also be entitled to attorney fees should he prevail.
D. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, one or more nonfault accidents or collisions shall not be the sole basis for an insurer’s denial of an application for a policy of motor vehicle insurance nor shall such an accident or collision be considered by an insurer in determining the rates for such a policy. In addition, no insurer shall require that such coverage be provided by another insurer based solely upon such an accident or collision.
But what does this mean exactly?
It means that not only does your insurance company have to pay you back your premium AND a penalty amount, but also the insurance company will have to pay the attorney fees that you pay while going through this entire process.
So… Should I make a Claim against My Own Insurance Company?
If you are injured and there is no other insurance available, of course you can make a claim.
This is exactly what you pay for when you buy insurance – to use it when you need it.
If you would like a consultation on whether you can make a claim against your insurance company in Louisiana, or whether they could raise your rates or cancel your insurance if you make a claim against your insurance company in Louisiana, give our team at Kiefer & Kiefer a call. Our personal injury attorneys have been helping the people of New Orleans through these types of issues for decades, and we offer free consultations on these claims.
This is provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice.