“I knew it might go up, but I didn’t think it would go up this much.” Steve Martin, a Louisiana resident, braced himself as he opened his auto policy renewal. His oldest daughter was involved in a minor fender bender, and like millions of Americans learned this year, car insurance rates are astronomical — especially for drivers with a car accident or other moving violation on their records.

The average cost of full coverage car insurance after an at-fault accident is $3,299 per year — a massive 43 percent increase compared to drivers with a clean record, according to Bankrate’s analysis of rates from Quadrant Information Services. Whether you’re planning a road trip or starting up the summer camp carpool, many Americans drive more in the summer. As the temperature ticks up, so do accident rates, and for many, a 43 percent jump in car insurance premiums could put pressure on an already strained household budget.

Even one car accident can bust summer travel budgets

Bankrate’s summer vacation survey discovered that 65 percent of U.S. adults who are not planning a summer vacation this year say it’s because they can’t afford to. With average full coverage car insurance rates rising by $82 per month due to one accident, it is easy to understand why.

Americans are still feeling the financial squeeze from inflation, and many are opting to stay close to home this summer to save some cash. In the same vacation survey, 12 percent of respondents reported planning a staycation for this summer.

Monthly insurance costs aside, policyholders with higher levels of coverage typically have more financial protection. Drivers with full coverage auto insurance at least have collision to aid in car repairs — minus the deductible, which is commonly $500 or $1,000.

Those who opted out of full coverage to save money on premiums are now grappling with out-of-pocket expenses related to rising repair and labor costs. Due to inflation’s impact on the car industry, motor vehicle repair costs are still 45.7 percent higher now than in February 2020.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, car crash fatalities spiked by 10.1 percent in 2021. While preliminary reporting from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows a 3.6 percent decline in car crash fatalities for 2023, car accidents are still occurring at a much higher rate than they were before the pandemic. Combined with inflation, increasing repair and labor costs, and hidden expenses like state fines and policy surcharges, many Americans are keeping summer vacation simple this year, if they can afford to take one at all.

Accident rates heat up in summer months

Summertime is the season of road trips, but busy roadways, construction and distracted drivers lead to higher accident rates in the summer and fall. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, July-October were the months with the most fatal vehicle crashes in 2022. Based on crash data from 2018-2022, July 4th is the day of the year with the most motor vehicle crash fatalities, averaging 143 deaths per year on the holiday. Drunk driving is also most common in the summer months, specifically July.

While most drivers aim to avoid accidents all year long, this increased risk in the summer might prompt drivers to be extra cautious as the weather heats up.

Is my driving record impacting my car insurance rate?

Your driving record has a significant influence on your cost of car insurance. Not all car accidents result in higher insurance rates, but at-fault accidents usually do. What may surprise drivers is what counts as at-fault and who determines it. “The police officer said that he wouldn’t write my daughter a ticket and that the accident was nobody’s fault,” said Martin about his daughter’s accident.

Since the accident happened in a private parking lot, and a ticket couldn’t be issued, I thought that would be the end of it. But it didn’t work out that way. — Steve Martin, Louisiana roofing contractor and father of three teenagers

Rate increases due to car accidents

In most situations, the insurance company determines fault in a car accident, not the police. The carrier can determine the fault and whether a surcharge is applied to the at-fault driver’s policy, even if the driver didn’t get a ticket or file a police report. And policy surcharges last between three to five years depending on the state and aren’t always proportionate to the amount the insurance companies pay out for the claim. Instead, they correlate to the risk of future accidents.

“We were paying about $500 per month for three cars and three drivers,” says Martin. “Now we pay about $630.” Steve’s daughter was only 17 years old at the time of the accident, so he and his wife were already stuck with paying for high auto rates that many parents of teen drivers are all too familiar with. “Sophia’s car has a $2,000 deductible, but Progressive said the cost of the damage didn’t meet the deductible.”

There are several causes of accidents involving one vehicle where insurance providers could consider the driver at fault, such as:

  • Skidding on ice
  • Distracted driving
  • Drowsy driving
  • Swerving to avoid a direct collision

Rate increases due to moving violations

Accidents aren’t the only way drivers might receive a policy surcharge. Moving violations also increase rates even when an accident doesn’t occur. Insurance carriers underwrite the behavior behind moving violations and assess the level of risk for future accidents.

There are various other factors that impact your auto rates, such as state-mandated insurance requirements, vehicle type, coverage selection and more. That said, your driving record usually takes center stage.

Major incident types and average premiums

Driving record Average annual full coverage premium Average monthly full coverage premium Premium increase compared to clean driving record
Clean driving record $2,311 $193 N/A
Single at-fault accident $3,299 $275 43%
Single speeding ticket $2,789 $232 21%
Single DUI conviction $4,426 $369 92%
Accident forgiveness: Can it save you money?
Even among the most careful drivers, accidents sometimes happen. If you’re worried about the rate impact of a future accident, accident forgiveness coverage may be a good option for you. How accident forgiveness works and who is eligible varies by insurance carrier and state, but generally it is a policy add-on that prevents your rate from increasing following your first at-fault accident. While many carriers advertise that accident forgiveness keeps your policy from increasing after an accident, this isn’t always the case. It will stop a policy surcharge from being applied, but some providers may remove incident-free discounts which can cause a slight rate increase. Policyholders in California are usually ineligible for this coverage as well as policyholders with drivers under 21.

Unforeseen expenses to consider

Bankrate’s emergency savings report revealed just how precarious many Americans’ financial situations are. When we asked, “Which of the following best describes how you would deal with a major unexpected expense, such as $1,000 for an emergency room visit or car repair?” a shocking 56 percent of U.S. adults responded that they would not use money from their savings account. Instead, 21 percent would finance the expense with a credit card and pay it off over time. Other payment methods included borrowing from family or friends, taking out a personal loan and reducing spending on other things.

Sophia’s a great kid, much better than I was at her age. She keeps her grades up and kicks in money from her part-time job to help pay for the rate increase. — Steve Martin with his daughter Sophia

Father and daughter in front of car

Taking advantage of insurance discounts, like Sophia does with her good student discount, is one way to find cheaper car insurance after an accident. However, insurance is just one aspect of how a car accident can impact your personal finances. Below are some examples of other accident-related expenses that can sneak up on you.

  • Depending on the type of moving violation and where it happens, you can get hit with hundreds of dollars in state fees and penalties. For example, drivers in South Dakota can be fined up to $2,000 for their first DUI offense. You may have to take a driving refresher course, reinstate your license or carry an SR-22 for a period of years. All of these penalties have different fines attached, and they add up fast.
  • Most insurance companies offer roadside assistance for minor breakdowns, flat tires and jumpstarts. However, standard roadside assistance usually does not cover towing after a car accident. Car crashes require a special kind of cleanup and a standard tow truck usually can’t move an inoperable car. Instead, you will need a wrecker — a tow truck prepared for recovery and removal operations. If you have collision coverage, the wrecker handles everything as part of your collision claim, however if you don’t, you may need to pay for the collision tow on your own.
  • The cost of vehicle repairs has not decreased since inflation peaked in 2022. If you plan to make auto repairs on your own, you will want to account for the higher cost of repairs in your emergency savings account. Below is a list of vehicle-related services and commodities that cost more now than they did in February 2020 according to inflation data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):

    • Motor vehicle repair: 45.7 percent higher than in February 2020
    • Motor vehicle bodywork: 31.5 percent higher than in February 2020
    • Motor vehicle parts and equipment: 20.9 percent higher than in February 2020

    Many Americans rely on their car to get to work, and unless your auto policy provides rental reimbursement coverage, you may need to pay out-of-pocket for rideshares, rental cars or public transportation while your car is being repaired.

How long will driving activity stay on my record?
Most surcharges related to accidents and moving violations remain on your auto policy for about three years, but in some states, like Massachusetts, it can be five years. DUIs are considered extremely risky behavior and in many states will remain on your motor vehicle report for up to 10 years. While the surcharge period will be over, insurance companies can still underwrite the risk for up to 10 years, depending on state law.


Bankrate utilizes Quadrant Information Services to analyze June 2024 rates for all 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 single, 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 2022 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.

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