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How long does an accident stay on your record
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Car insurance premiums are based on several factors like your vehicle make and model, your age, your driving record and more. But if you are in an accident, your rates will likely change — and not for the better. An accident that results in an insurance claim will likely cause your premium to increase when your policy renews. However, there may be actions you can take to keep car insurance costs to a minimum.
How long does an accident stay on your driving record?
To note, there is a difference between how long an accident stays on your driving record and how long an accident affects your car insurance. The Department of Motor Vehicles within each state processes and maintains records for all registered drivers. However, each state has its own insurance laws, so details vary by location.
Insurance companies have limited access to this data. Typically, insurers can only view the previous seven years of driving records. The companies use this information to help inform premiums, usually increasing rates for three to five years following an accident.
So, although accidents will technically always be on your record, they will likely only affect the cost of your insurance for a few years.
How much does insurance go up after an accident?
The average full coverage premium increase following an at-fault accident is 42 percent. Insurance companies calculate premiums based on risk, as high-risk drivers are more likely to file claims for accidents and other driving incidents. The more accidents and tickets that you have on your record, the higher your insurance rates will likely be.
Drivers who are involved in an accident that causes serious injury to others or extensive property damage may see some of the most extreme rate increases. The same goes for those who are caught driving while intoxicated. In some cases, an insurer may even deny your policy renewal.
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|
What is accident forgiveness?
Some auto insurance companies offer accident forgiveness programs. Accident forgiveness is a coverage option wherein your policy would not be surcharged after your first at-fault accident. You may be eligible for this coverage if you have no tickets or at-fault accidents on your driving record for the past three to five years. Generally, you will pay an additional premium for enrolling in an accident forgiveness program.
Every insurer may have different availability and eligibility requirements for accident forgiveness, but it could be worth adding to your policy if available. Note that even if the accident is “forgiven” by your current insurance company, it may affect the quotes you receive from other companies if you try to switch insurers. The best way to find out which insurance company can offer you the best deal is to shop around.
How to lower your car insurance rate following an accident
No matter the circumstances, you may be able to offset the increase to your insurance premiums following an accident. Most car insurance companies offer incentives and discounts that may help policyholders save money on car insurance. To lower your rate after a car accident, consider taking the following steps:
- Look into telematics programs: Ask your insurer if it has a usage-based telematics program. These programs, such as Allstate’s Drivewise, collect real-time information on your driving habits and may reward good driving behavior with reduced rates.
- Enroll in a defensive driving course: You may be able to find approved driving courses and earn a discount upon passing. Only certain companies and certain states participate, but your insurance agent should be able to tell you if your carrier offers this discount and what the criteria are to earn it.
- Increase your car insurance deductibles: If you have full coverage, increasing one or both of your deductibles could decrease your premium. But keep in mind that higher deductibles typically mean higher out-of-pocket costs in the event of a claim. Most insurance professionals recommend exploring other options for savings before increasing your deductible.
- Check for other discounts: Discount opportunities vary by company. Speaking with an agent could be the best way to find out what’s on offer. Other common discounts that might help you save include a good student discount, bundling discount, safety features discount and paperless discount.
Frequently asked questions
Bankrate utilizes Quadrant Information Services to analyze 2023 rates for ZIP codes and carriers in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Rates are weighted based on the population density in each geographic region. 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 coverage that meets each state’s requirements. Our base profile drivers own a 2021 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.
Gender: The following states do not use gender as a determining factor in calculating premiums: California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania.