In the middle of New England winter, I did not see some black ice on the road, and ended up hitting a rock on the side of the road. It was right outside my house and I had barely gotten out of my driveway. No one was hurt and it was just my car. The cops came, no tickets/citation, but because the car was so new with just 4,000 miles on it, the insurance company decided to declare it totaled rather than repair it (apparently the car was worth a lot more for its parts). The net result was that for someone with an excellent driving record, I got 3 SDIP points. At the time of the renewal, I noticed that my auto insurance was way up. So when I got a letter about the change from insurance company, my insurance agent advised that I should appeal it, because all it costs is $50, but if I win, I could save thousands of dollars over a six-year period.
I waited about 10 months to get a hearing in Worcester. Since I did not have an attorney, I did some research online to prepare about what to expect. I also got together a folder with all the documents related to the accident. In addition, I took a picture of the site of the accident that showed the giant boulder. I also printed a Google map to show where the accident happened, how close it was to my house, and how I could possibly not drive since I would have had to use the power of a race car to achieve the kind of acceleration to go over the speed limit. From this page, I also printed the weather for that day (I suggest that you print the weather report on the day of the accident itself since historical data is hard to find). I dressed up as if I was going for a business meeting and showed up at the court (make sure that you leave your cell phone in the car because the security staff was really nasty and made me walk back to my car).
The actual hearing was more like a business meeting. The insurance company only mailed their evidence and there was no representative. So it was just me and the bureaucrat. He asked me if I had any written notes of the accident, and I did, but he did not want to see them. I simply used them to talk. He asked me if I had a copy of the police report, which I did not, so you might want to bring it. I guess he did have the police version in the documents from the insurance company. He was interested in and impressed by the pictures and map I showed him and he took it as evidence. He basically repeated what he read from the documents from the insurance company and the initial description I had provided when I filed the appeal and asked me to simply confirm it.
This process took just about 2-3 minutes and he was hinting me to leave, but I had come prepared with talking points, about how careful driver I am, how careful I was that day, how I think the penalty is excessive and how I think I deserve a reconsideration. I literally forced him to listen to my speech, but he did, and told me that the hearing was over. I will update this page when I hear about the outcome (in the mail). I was a little disappointed that I did not get an opportunity to argue my case, even though, it seemed that this officer had nothing to do (there was no one waiting for another hearing). So I felt that he had already made up his mind one way or the other and what I said may not have mattered, but I tried.
Update after three weeks: Looks like it was a great idea for me to appeal. I received a letter in the mail from the Board of Appeal on Motor Vehicle Liability Policies and Bonds a part of Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation in the Division of Insurance that the appellant is NOT more than 50% at fault for the accident and the surcharge is not valid, and therefore, the surcharge is VACATED. From some additional research, I conclude that not only do I get refunded the additional premiums I paid so far but also going forward my premium will revert to its original level. I also spoke to my insurance agent and even though she told me that the insurance company will receive a copy of the finding, but I should mail her a copy as well so that she will pursue it for me and make sure that it gets processed promptly by the insurance company.
Update after six weeks: I received an amended policy from my insurance company with a credit of 10% on the premium. This part is complicated, so let me explain. When I first got my insurance renewal bill it was approximately 2.5X of what I was paying before the accident. I completely freaked out and told my agent that she needs to do something, and to my pleasant surprise, she came back with a plan that was actually lower than what I was paying before. So my actual premium went down even though I had an accident on record. So compared to my new premium, the saving is small, but I am assuming that it would be a lot more if I had not pestered my agent to find me a cheaper policy. It was during this experience that I also learned something new: do not just pay up your insurance bill automatically when it arrives each year, call and push the agent, because new policies are often available and the agents do not always get involved if you do not contact them.