How a Car Accident Affects Your Insurance Rate

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Not only can car accidents cause harm to you and your vehicle, but they can do significant damage to your car insurance premium. In fact, drivers involved in at-fault incidents currently average incurring a 31% increase in their car insurance rates after an accident.

Depending on the circumstances of the accident, there are ways to reduce the impact on your car insurance. Some car insurance providers offer accident forgiveness programs that help minimize increases in your insurance premium following an accident, so it may still be possible to find cheap car insurance after an accident. Read on to learn more about how car insurance rates may be impacted if you’re involved in a vehicle incident and what to do to keep your premiums as low as possible.

How much does your car insurance go up after an accident?

Though at-fault incidents with bodily injury lead to the most significant insurance rate increases, other types of accident claims also affect your premium. Fortunately, comprehensive claims lead to a much lower rate hike. Car insurance claim types include:

  • At-fault bodily injury accident
  • At-fault property damage accident over $2,000+
  • At-fault property damage accident under $2,000
  • Comprehensive claim over $2,000+
  • Comprehensive claim under $2,000

Review the charts below to see the differences in insurance rate increases depending on the type of accident and claim per state. Note that being involved in a second at-fault accident causes your car insurance premium to escalate drastically. On the other hand, even a second comprehensive claim increases your car insurance rate on average by less than 10%.

Claim Type Average Increase (%) Average Increase ($)
At-fault bodily injury 32% $459
At-fault property damage over $2,000+ 31% $450
At-fault property damage under $2,000 26% $366
Comprehensive over $2,000+ 3% $39
Comprehensive under $2,000 3% $39
2nd at-fault property damage over $2,000+ 110% $1,572
2nd comprehensive over $2,000+ 8% $121

The average rate increase following an accident varies from state to state. For example, Minnesota drivers face the sharpest rate increase at 87%, while drivers in New York average a much smaller rate increase of 12%. The chart below breaks down car insurance averages from each state before and after an automobile incident.

State Average car insurance rate Average insurance rate after an accident Increase (%) Increase ($)
Minnesota $1,339 $2,503 87% $1,164
California $1,783 $3,3081 73% $1,298
Louisiana $2,228 $3,348 50% $1,120
Michigan $2,368 $3,502 48% $1,134
Delaware $1,838 $2,592 41% $754
North Carolina $1,170 $1,647 41% $477
Georgia $1,815 $2,552 41% $737
Utah $1,212 $1,699 40% $487
Texas $1,644 $2,301 40% $657
Maryland $1,541 $2,154 40% $613
Iowa $1,073 $1,479 38% $406
Nevada $1,578 $2,169 37% $591
Oregon $1,325 $1,801 36% $476
Florida $2,250 $3,045 35% $795
Alabama $1,304 $1,764 35% $460
Washington $1,307 $1,766 35% $459
Wisconsin $1,147 $1,531 33% $384
West Virginia $1,467 $1,934 32% $467
Connecticut $1,980 $2,589 31% $609
Colorado $1,675 $2,190 31% $515
South Dakota $1,250 $1,634 31% $384
Tennessee $1,339 $1,750 31% $411
Illinois $1,176 $1,523 30% $347
Washington, D.C. $1,887 $2,438 29% $551
New Hampshire $1,156 $1,493 29% $337
Rhode Island $2,011 $2,591 29% $580
Arkansas $1,556 $2,001 29% $445
Nebraska $1,287 $1,640 27% $353
Idaho $1,019 $1,294 27% $275
Pennsylvania $1,438 $1,824 27% $386
Virginia $993 $1,250 26% $257
New Mexico $1,498 $1,852 24% $354
Wyoming $1,577 $1,938 23% $361
Mississippi $1,504 $1,844 23% $340
Missouri $1,288 $1,576 22% $288
Kansas $1,412 $1,725 22% $313
Ohio $959 $1,170 22% $211
Arizona $1,399 $1,702 22% $303
Oklahoma $1,469 $1,783 21% $314
Vermont $1,166 $1,405 20% $239
Maine $884 $1,058 20% $174
New Jersey $1,419 $1,697 20% $278
North Dakota $1,123 $1,338 19% $215
Indiana $1,057 $1,259 19% $202
Kentucky $1,611 $1,915 19% $304
Montana $1,589 $1,877 18% $288
Massachusetts $1,616 $1,893 17% $277
Alaska $1,246 $1,458 17% $212
South Carolina $1,353 $1,559 15% $206
Hawaii $1,255 $1,414 13% $159
New York $1,214 $1,360 12% $146

What if the accident isn’t my fault?

If the vehicle accident wasn’t your fault, and in some cases, even if it was, you may qualify for accident forgiveness if you were enrolled in the program. Accident forgiveness occurs when your insurance provider waives the surcharges incurred by the first at-fault accident of an eligible driver on your policy.

The program is commonly extended for free to long-time members with good driving records. Drivers new to the insurance company or with less-than-stellar driving records may be able to add-on the service for an additional monthly fee.

The following companies extend some form of accident forgiveness program to enrolled and eligible drivers:

Note: State Farm accident forgiveness is only extended to accident-free drivers who have been with the company for at least nine years

Lowering your rates after a surcharge

Even if you don’t qualify for accident forgiveness from your car insurance provider, there are still a few ways you can lower your insurance rate after a surcharge is implemented.

  • Improve your credit: In addition to your driving record, your credit rating also plays a role in determining your car insurance rate. Work on staying within your spending budget, pay down your outstanding debts and address any discrepancies on your credit report to better your credit score.
  • Increase your deductible: When it comes to car insurance, the higher your deductible the lower your premium. However, before raising your deductible, keep in mind you’ll suffer more out of pocket expenses before your insurance kicks in if you’re involved in another accident.
  • Discounts: Most car insurance companies offer a variety of discounts for their customers, including good student discounts for high school and college students who maintain good grades and multi-policy discounts for bundling insurance policies.
  • Lower your coverage: Though this option should probably be the last resort, if you absolutely need to lower your insurance premium, you can consider cutting down your coverages. Most states require a certain level of liability insurance to operate a vehicle, but you can cut out or lower your comprehensive coverage if necessary.
  • Shop around: With so many car insurance carriers on the market today, it’s always a great idea to shop around and find the best prices currently being offered from company to company. You may also find that some companies offer different discounts and coverage options than others.

Frequently asked questions:

Should I even file a claim with my insurance company?

If the costs to repair your damaged vehicle or at or just below the amount of your deductible, it’s smarter to forego filing an insurance claim. Just be aware of your specific insurance provider’s procedures on reporting an incident.

Which car insurance companies have accident forgiveness?

Many car insurance providers offer some kind of accident forgiveness to enrolled drivers, including Allstate accident forgiveness, Progressive accident forgiveness, USAA, Nationwide, Geico and The Hartford.

How long after an accident will my rate be higher?

An accident may negatively affect your car insurance premium for three to five years after the date of the incident.

Will an insurance rate increase affect my credit score?

No, while being involved in an car accident does not negatively impact your credit rating, a low credit score can lead to higher premiums.

Bottom line

An accident is never good for your car insurance policy, but that doesn’t mean that you’ll always have higher rates. Rates vary depending on where you live.

You also have the ability to lower your premium by choosing a safe car to drive, improving your credit rating, adjusting your policy and shopping for coverage for the best deal. If you use these techniques and avoid another accident, you can help keep your car insurance rates from dramatically increasing.