insurance

Putting the brakes on road rage costs

Barry says it is unlikely that your insurance company will cancel your car insurance outright. "In general, the only two ways that an auto insurer can cancel you is for nonpayment of premium and misrepresentation on your initial application," he says.

More likely, they will either not renew your policy when its term expires (usually one year) "or they may just raise the rates the next time around to the point where the policyholder leaves."

That's going to make it more difficult -- and expensive -- to pick up another policy.

"It would be similar to someone who has a reckless driving or DUI conviction. The list of companies that will take you goes down dramatically and their rates are much, much higher," says Randles. "You're going from a preferred or standard-type carrier to a nonstandard carrier where you'll be paying at least double if not triple your current rates."

'He said, she said' defense

And don't rely on the "he started it" defense -- responding in kind to road rage carries its own risks.

"If you're found 50 percent at fault, that accident is going on your record, too," Randles says. "What's more, if their insurance doesn't cover them because of an intentional accident, yours may not cover you if you contributed to it."

Barry says, "An auto insurer is going to pay out a claim that is covered under the policy, no matter what happened. If it's lawbreaking, you'll get some pushback from your insurer, but the overwhelming majority of crashes are going to get paid out."

But Randles says the only sure way to avoid being sucker-punched by road rage is not to play.

"Just put as much distance between you and the other person as possible, because if they're driving crazy, even if they don't hit you, they're likely to cause an accident up ahead that you definitely don't want to be involved in."

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