The New Jersey Supreme Court recently decided a case which determined whether, and under what circumstances, a driver who is involved in a single-vehicle accident resulting in no personal injury may be considered to be “at-fault” for purposes of assessing insurance eligibility rating points. Central to the court’s inquiry is whether whether fault in this context is defined in negligence terms or in accordance with actuarial or underwriting concepts.
What’s most important to drivers is the fact that insurance companies assess rating points as a way to raise insurance premiums.
The court noted that an “at-fault accident” is an accident in which a driver is “proportionately responsible,” and explained that a driver is “proportionately responsible if 50 percent responsible for an accident involving two drivers; if 33 1/3 percent responsible for an accident involving three drivers, etc. Specifically excluded form the definition of “at-fault,” are cases such as when the insured vehicle was lawfully parked; the insured vehicle was struck by a hit and run driver; the insured was not convicted of a traffic violation but another driver was convicted; and when the insured vehicle was struck in the rear by another vehicle.
The court determined that it was inappropriate for an insurance company to assess insurance eligibility rating points to a driver who skidded on a patch of black ice resulting in property damage to his vehicle.