How long does an accident stay on your record

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When shopping for car insurance, getting the lowest rate for all of the coverage options and features needed is a top priority for many individuals. Although all car insurance companies take into account different factors to come up with an auto insurance quote, your driving record is commonly a huge consideration when determining your rate. Those with clean records will typically have the best rates as they are less risky to insure. However, if you do have a traffic violation or have gotten in an accident, the good news is that it will not stay on your driving record forever.

How long will an accident stay on your record?

Being involved in a car accident is not only a stressful and intimidating experience, but it can impact your physical, emotional and financial well-being. Along with hospital visits and costs, court visits and ticket fees, insurance premiums also usually increase after a driver is involved in an accident. However, the accidents may be removed from your driving record over time.

Most states go by a point system to track accidents and other traffic violations. The point system varies by each state, and the severity of the violation impacts the number of points added to a driver’s record. Each state varies on how long an accident stays on a driver’s record and has its own Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) that provides state-specific guidelines for traffic violations and accidents.

An accident can stay on a driving record for several years, but each state goes by different rules and point system. Therefore, it may be worth checking with your local DMV to understand how long your accident will stay on your record. For example, an accident in New York usually stays on a driving record from the year that accident occurred and then for three years following it. On the other hand, more severe accidents may stay on your record for four to five years in certain states like Illinois, or more, depending on the outcome.

How long does an accident affect your car insurance?

After you are involved in a car accident, you can usually expect your insurance premiums to rise. How long your premiums are impacted will generally be dependent on how long you have until the accident is off your driving record, as determined by your state’s DMV. On average, drivers who are involved in an at-fault accident that causes bodily injury or property damage notice a 34% increase in car insurance premiums. However, there are ways to reduce the financial impact on your insurance premium after an accident. One of the things that many insurance companies offer is accident forgiveness.

When it comes to determining your insurance quote after an accident, insurance companies will want to know who was at fault for the accident. If you are more than 50% at fault for an accident, your insurance premium will more than likely increase. Depending on the severity, you may be labeled as a “high-risk” driver, which indicates your higher likelihood of filing a claim.

The table below shows the difference in insurance premiums for a driver with no incidents compared to a driver with a speeding ticket or an accident.

Average annual premium for no incident Average annual premium after speeding Average annual premium after an accident
Total average premium $1,674 $2,029 $2,405
Male $1,648 $2,034 $2,412
Female $1,701 $2,024 $2,398

In several instances, whether you are at fault for an accident or not, many auto insurance companies offer an accident forgiveness program. Accident forgiveness is where your insurance provider will avoid increasing your premium in the first accident you or another eligible driver under your policy is involved in. The coverage is usually optional and may be added as long as you prove that you have kept a clean driving record within the past few years. Each provider’s prerequisites for eligibility are likely to be different.

How to lower your rate following an accident

Following an accident, there are several ways to lower your rate to mitigate the increase in your auto insurance premium. Several car insurance companies offer programs and discounts to help save more on car insurance. To lower your rate after a car accident, you could:

  • Ask your insurance provider if it offers an accident forgiveness program.
  • Increase your car insurance deductible, keeping in mind the higher out-of-pocket cost following a claim.
  • Enroll in a defensive driving course
  • Apply other discounts that may apply to you such as the good student discount, bundling discount, safety features discount and more.

Frequently asked questions

What is non-standard auto insurance?

Drivers considered to be a substantial risk by traditional insurers may obtain a non-standard auto insurance policy, as it is for vehicle owners with a poor driving history. Non-standard auto insurance can be purchased from certain insurance companies that offer coverage for high-risk drivers, though it will usually cost more than a normal policy.

What is a high-risk driver?

Someone who has been involved in a number of car accidents or who has received multiple speeding violations or citations, has bad credit or has been involved in any type of serious offense might be considered a high-risk driver. Insurance companies generally use the high-risk driver classification to reflect an insured that is more likely to file insurance claims than the average driver.

How long do accidents stay on your record?

Each state has its own point system or rules for how long an accident will affect your record. You may check for information regarding your state’s laws on its DMV website.

Methodology

Bankrate utilizes Quadrant Information Services to analyze 2021 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 2019 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.

Incident
Rates were calculated by evaluating our base profile with the following incidents applied: clean record (base), at-fault accident, single speeding ticket, single DUI conviction and lapse in coverage.

Written by
Grace Kim
Insurance Contributor
Grace Kim has two years of experience in writing for finance and insurance domains such as The Cheapest Car Insurance Companies in New Jersey at Bankrate and Reviews.com. She has written about auto, homeowners, renters and life insurance. She holds an M.Sc from New York University in Corporate Communications and has spent most of her professional experience writing about finance and tech topics.