In our previous post, we continued our discussion on no-fault insurance, how it works and how fault can still impact drivers despite no-fault insurance. In this post, we’d like to briefly discuss how insurance companies determine who is at fault for a car accident.

Although the courts are the ultimate arbiters of who is at fault for a car accident, insurance companies are permitted to make determinations of fault according to certain accepted standards. These are known as standards of fault, and constitute circumstances in which a driver can legally be presumed by an insurance company to be more than 50 percent at fault.

Here is a brief list of some of these standards of fault:

Drivers do have the ability to appeal an insurer’s determination of fault, the process of which is described in the notice of fault a driver receives from his or her insurance company. Those who decide to appeal the determination, though, may still have to deal with an increase in their premium, at least until an appeal results in a decision that the insurance company’s fault determination was incorrect, at which point the insurance company is required to refund premium increases connected to the accident.

Sorting out insurance matters after a car accident can be challenging. Those who are facing a premium increase because of an accident for which they feel they were not at fault should consult with an experienced attorney to have their case evaluated.

Source: Massachusetts Division of Insurance, “Frequently Asked Questions About At-Fault Accident Surcharges For Personal Automobile Insurance Policies,” Commissioner of Insurance Joseph G. Murphy, July 2012.