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When you purchase a car, the auto insurance quotes you get is based on factors like your age, your car’s make and model and your driving record. But if your driving record changes because you are in an accident, even after you purchase your policy, your rates will likely change as well — and not for the better. An accident that results in an insurance claim will likely cause your rates to increase when your policy renews. However, there may be actions you can take to keep rate increases to a minimum.
How long does an accident affect your car insurance?
The amount of time that an accident affects your car insurance is determined by your insurer and sometimes your state. Your insurer has access to a CLUE (Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange) report, and when an accident happens, that incident is added to your report. The CLUE report includes a detailed view of your claims history, including if the accident was at-fault or not at fault, any payout amount, if the claim is currently open or closed and more. After reviewing the CLUE report, your insurer will determine your post-accident rate that will take effect upon your next policy renewal.
A single at-fault accident can significantly impact your rate, from a roughly 40 percent increase to much more. Why? Because an accident on your record means your insurance company considers you riskier to insure. Any accident can increase your rate, but more severe accidents with injuries or significant damage, or accidents where alcohol is involved, are likely to cause substantial increases or even cause your insurance company to non-renew your policy.
Many auto insurance companies offer accident forgiveness. Accident forgiveness is a coverage option that means your first accident will be “forgiven”— meaning, it will not cause your rate to increase. You may be eligible for this coverage if you recently had a clean driving record for three to five consecutive years. Every insurer will have its requirements, but it’s worth considering adding this optional coverage to your policy if it is available. However, even if your accident is “forgiven” by your current insurer, that accident may affect the quoted premiums of other companies if you shop for car insurance elsewhere.
The table below indicates how much more drivers with an at-fault accident on their record pay for car insurance than drivers with clean driving records.
|Average annual premium for no incident||Average annual premium after an at-fault accident|
How to lower your rate following an accident
There may be ways to lower your rate to offset your auto insurance premium increase following an accident. Several car insurance companies offer programs and discounts to help save more on car insurance. To lower your rate after a car accident, you might take the following steps:
- Ask your insurer if it has a user-based telematics program that you could join. These programs, such as Allstate’s Drivewise, collect real-time information on your driving habits and reward good driving behavior with reduced rates.
- Increase your car insurance deductibles. However, keep in mind that higher deductibles mean higher out-of-pocket costs following a claim.
- Enroll in a defensive driving course. You may be able to find approved driving courses that will also reduce the number of points on your license. However, check with your insurer to make sure it offers this discount type and what the criteria would be to earn this discount.
- Apply other discounts that may apply to you, such as the good student discount, bundling discount, safety features discount, paperless discount and more.
Frequently asked questions
Bankrate utilizes Quadrant Information Services to analyze 2022 rates for all ZIP codes and carriers in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Quoted rates are based on a 40-year-old male and female driver with a clean driving record, good credit and the following full coverage limits:
- $100,000 bodily injury liability per person
- $300,000 bodily injury liability per accident
- $50,000 property damage liability per accident
- $100,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per person
- $300,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per accident
- $500 collision deductible
- $500 comprehensive deductible
To determine minimum coverage limits, Bankrate used minimum coverages that meet each state’s requirements. Our base profile drivers own a 2020 Toyota Camry, commute five days a week and drive 12,000 miles annually.
These are sample rates and should only be used for comparative purposes.
Rates were calculated by evaluating our base profile with the following incidents applied: clean record (base) and an at-fault accident.