If you’ve ever been in an at-fault accident, you may know that your car insurance rate is likely to increase afterward. But there’s good news: many insurers offer a benefit called accident forgiveness that means you won’t be given a premium surcharge, in most cases, after your first at-fault accident. What is accident forgiveness? Bankrate’s insurance editorial team takes a look at this program to help you understand what it offers you and answer the question: is accident forgiveness worth it?

What is accident forgiveness?

Many insurance companies offer an accident forgiveness program. This additional coverage benefits drivers who are involved in their first at-fault accident by waiving the policy surcharge that would usually occur following the incident. If you have maintained a good driving record otherwise, you may not have to pay any extra fee for the coverage.

Each insurance company varies on the eligibility requirements of its accident forgiveness program. Usually, accident forgiveness only applies to one at-fault accident.

Keep in mind that not every accident will be forgiven, and having accident forgiveness does not remove the accident from your motor vehicle record. Additionally, even if your single accident was forgiven with your current insurer, a new company will be able to see the at-fault accident on your CLUE report and will likely add a surcharge to your rate if the accident was within three to six years.

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How do you get accident forgiveness?

You will need to check with your insurer to find out if it offers an accident forgiveness program — not all companies do. In some cases, accident forgiveness is automatically added to your policy for free, usually if you’ve been with the company for a certain number of years and have maintained a clean driving record.

With some insurers, accident forgiveness is available as an endorsement on your policy, available for an additional cost if you qualify for it. To find out if this is the case, it’s a good idea to contact a licensed agent or company representative, who can walk you through what is required to add this function to your policy.

What providers offer accident forgiveness?

There are several car insurance providers that offer accident forgiveness. You can expect the major insurance providers to offer this program. However, each insurance company operates differently based on the state it is operating in. Therefore, providers may not offer accident forgiveness in every state or to every individual who is looking to be insured. The list of insurers that do offer accident forgiveness includes the following carriers:

Company Accident forgiveness criteria
Allstate With this optional coverage, your rate will not increase after a single-at fault accident. You can speak to a local Allstate agent to see if you qualify.
Geico Geico may offer free accident forgiveness if you have maintained a clean driving record. If this is the case, policyholders would receive a notification of the accident forgiveness reward. If it’s not earned, you may also purchase it for your policy as an add-on if you meet the eligibility requirements.
Progressive Progressive automatically adds accident forgiveness to auto policies in most states. The company offers two types of accident forgiveness. The small accident forgiveness is if your claim is less than $500 and large accident forgiveness if your claim exceeds $500. The accident forgiveness coverage amount for either program depends on how long you have been with Progressive. Accident forgiveness may also be purchased.
Liberty Mutual Liberty Mutual offers accident forgiveness to drivers with no accident or violations within the last five years. To see if you are eligible, you can log on to your Liberty Mutual account and request to add on accident forgiveness for no charge.
Erie Erie offers accident forgiveness to drivers with a first at-fault accident. However, this is only eligible for drivers who have been with Erie for three or more years.
Nationwide Nationwide offers accident forgiveness for an additional charge. You can add it by talking to your agent.
Travelers Drivers with Travelers can receive accident forgiveness by purchasing one of Travelers Responsible Driver Plans or by purchasing accident forgiveness directly. Eligibility can be determined by speaking with your Travelers agent.
The Hartford Through AARP, The Hartford offers accident forgiveness as an extra feature on your auto policy for those who qualify. You must call an agent to see if you qualify.
USAA Drivers who remain accident free for five years and are with USAA during that time can receive accident forgiveness at no additional cost from the company. However, in some states you must purchase accident forgiveness.

Is accident forgiveness worth having?

Accident forgiveness may be worth adding to your policy, even if there is a cost involved. If you are generally a safe driver and rarely, if ever, file claims, accident forgiveness can offer you peace of mind in knowing that you won’t face higher premiums in the unlikely event that you are involved in an accident.

If you have marks on your license or a history of involvement in accidents, on the other hand, you may not be eligible for accident forgiveness. Your local agent can tell you if that is the case. You may also not be able to purchase accident forgiveness if your policy is with a company that does not offer this program. Again, an agent can let you know what is possible.

If you are unable to add accident forgiveness to your current policy, you may want to consider switching to another company that does offer it. Keep in mind, however, that even if you’ve had an accident forgiven in the past, all accidents you’ve been involved in remain a part of your CLUE report, so a new insurer is likely to know about them before they offer you a policy.

In the end, the best way to determine if accident forgiveness is a good choice for you is to consider any additional cost as well as your driving history. If you are on a tight budget and your insurer charges for it, you may want to pass. Likewise, if you have multiple dings on your license, you may want to work to improve your driving skills so you are more likely to be eligible.

Frequently asked questions

    • Not all car insurance companies offer accident forgiveness. It depends on the state you live in, your insurance policy and whether you are eligible or not.
    • In some cases, insurers offer accident forgiveness for free, although this is usually to policyholders who fit certain criteria. For example, you may earn it as a loyalty bonus, for being a customer of your insurer for a certain number of years. Other insurers offer it for free to policyholders who do not file any claims for a period of time — often three to five years. Even if you don’t fit in either of those categories, you may be able to pay an additional fee on top of the cost of your auto insurance policy to add accident forgiveness.
    • Eligibility requirements for accident forgiveness vary by state and insurance policy. Most insurance companies offer accident forgiveness to drivers who have maintained a good driving record for at least a specified number of years. How long you’ve maintained the policy with the company may also factor into your eligibility. Accident forgiveness only works to cover a single at-fault accident.