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Between filing your claim, getting your vehicle back on the road, and dealing with possible injuries, you may have a lot on your mind following an at-fault accident. You might also wonder how the accident will affect your car insurance premium and how accident forgiveness comes into play (if at all).
Using proprietary rate data from Quadrant Information Services, Bankrate analyzed the average rate increase national carriers impose after an at-fault accident. We also discuss how accident forgiveness works, where you can find it and steps you can take that may lower your premium.
How much will my car insurance go up after an accident?
Typically, your car insurance rates tend to go up after an at-fault accident, since insurers will now assess you as a higher-risk driver and determine that you’re more likely to file claims in the future. The exact amount that your premium will increase after an accident depends on several factors, including: your auto insurance provider, your driving record, your claims history, your geographic location, and in some states, even your age and gender. Young drivers (under age 25) may see the highest increases after an accident, since insurers tend to view them as an especially risky group to insure.
Based on Bankrate’s analysis of insurance rates from Quadrant Information Services, we found that, on average, premiums for full coverage insurance go up an estimated $750 after an accident. Here are average rates before and after an accident:
|Average annual premium for full coverage|
|Before an accident||$1,771|
|After an at-fault accident||$2,521|
However, in some states, the average premium increase after an accident is higher than the national average. The more damage you cause in your accident, the more you can generally expect to see your premiums increase. If you have a claims free or good driver discount, you could also lose that, too, which is another reason for a high spike in auto insurance premiums after an at-fault accident. And, if you have a history of at-fault accidents, you may see an even steeper rate hike because car insurance companies may view you as a high-risk driver.
Optional comprehensive coverage, which is part of full coverage car insurance, steps in when your car is damaged, but it is not related to a collision. You might file a comprehensive claim because your car was stolen or vandalized or because a tree limb fell on it, or damage was caused by a flood or fire, for example. While comprehensive claims can increase your premium slightly, it may still be worth filing with your insurer to get the coverage you paid for to restore your car to its pre-incident condition.
How much will my rate go up based on my car insurance company?
While nearly every auto insurance company will raise your rates after an at-fault accident, the amount can vary noticeably between companies. Below, we compiled the average auto insurance rates for full coverage before and after an accident from many of the largest U.S. providers by market share.
Full coverage car insurance rates
|Car insurance company||Average annual premium before an at-fault accident||Average annual premium after an at-fault accident|
Why do insurance rates go up after an accident?
Car insurance rates are based on statistics, and the data shows that you’re more likely to be involved in an accident if you’ve already been in one. Although it may feel like one, a rate increase following a claim isn’t a form of punishment. Rather, your company adjusts your premium to reflect this higher risk.
Although at-fault accidents are more likely to raise your premiums than those that are not your fault, any claim can impact your premium, especially if you file multiple claims in short succession. But the good news is that your rate may drop back to baseline after a few claims-free years.
If your rate becomes unmanageable after an accident, it may help to explore your options by requesting free online insurance quotes. However, it’s important to be forthright about your claims history when doing so. Many insurers will not order your driving record during the quoting process and instead rely on the information you give them to calculate your estimated premium. Failing to disclose driving activity could generate an artificially low rate, which will then be adjusted after you agree to switch your car insurance.
Accident forgiveness programs
If you were enrolled in an accident forgiveness program prior to your accident, you might be eligible to have the claim surcharge waived. Although guidelines vary by provider and state availability, most accident forgiveness programs are designed to waive the first at-fault loss that occurs on your policy and will waive only one loss within a specified timeframe, typically three to five years.
However, most accident forgiveness programs are optional endorsements that add to the cost of your policy. If you have been with the same company for several years you may qualify for free accident forgiveness coverage, but most companies charge extra to participate and may have limitations for new drivers or new customers.
The following major auto insurers are among the dozens of carriers that extend some form of accident forgiveness coverage to enrolled and eligible drivers:
*Note: State Farm accident forgiveness is only extended to accident-free drivers who have been insured by the company for at least nine years. Additionally, The Hartford and USAA only offer accident forgiveness if all drivers listed on the policy are accident-free for five consecutive years. With USAA, you must also have five years tenure as a policyholder.
How long does an accident stay on your record?
On average, at-fault car accidents stay on your driving record for three to five years. However, the exact length of time depends on your state and the severity of the incident. For example, in New York State, an accident or traffic violation will stay on your record until the end of the year when the incident occurred, plus three years after. In Oregon, an accident or violation will remain on your record for five years.
If you’re involved in a DUI or reckless driving crash, expect the incident to stay on your record for a minimum of five years to a maximum of your entire lifetime. You can check your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website for information about driving record requirements where you live.
Lowering your car insurance rates after an accident
Even if you don’t qualify for accident forgiveness, there may be several steps you can take to try and lower your car insurance premiums after a claim:
Even if you don’t qualify for accident forgiveness from your car insurance provider, there may be ways you can lower your insurance rate after an accident. The best way to figure out how to save is to speak with your insurance agent. For example, they may suggest discounts for low-mileage drivers, students or being a member of a certain occupation or organization, as well as bundling your auto and home policies with the same insurer. Regardless of your driving history, these discounts may be able to lower your premium, sometimes by 25% or more. This is because most discounts can be stacked together, maximizing how much you save and getting you closer to the cheapest rates you are eligible for.
If you’re not sure where to start, these methods could help you save money on your premium after an accident:
- Improve your credit: Depending on your state of residence, your credit-based insurance score may play a role in determining your car insurance rate. Stay within your spending budget, pay debts and address any discrepancies on your credit report to improve your credit standing.
- Increase your deductible: The higher your deductibles on comprehensive and collision coverage, the lower your premium. Before raising your deductible, keep in mind that if you raise your deductible, your out-of-pocket expenses would be higher if you were to file a claim. For minor accidents, paying out-of-pocket may be doable. But ensuring your deductible is manageable will prevent financial issues in the event of a large accident.
- Look for discounts: Most car insurance companies offer a variety of discounts, including good student discounts and multi-policy discounts. Many also offer usage-based telematics programs that monitor your driving in real time and award discounts for safe practices behind the wheel, such as following posted speed limits and your braking patterns. Examples include Progressive Snapshot, State Farm Drive Safe and Save, Allstate Drivewise and Nationwide SmartRide.
- Shop around: It’s always a great idea to shop around when your policy is up for renewal to find the best prices currently being offered from different car insurance companies. It may be difficult to find a car insurance policy that offers the same coverage at the same price you were paying prior to an at-fault accident, but you may also discover that other insurance companies offer different discounts and coverage options.
- Update your coverage choices: If you absolutely need to lower your insurance premium, you could consider changing your coverage options. Although you should always review these changes with a licensed agent, lowering the amount of insurance you have could lower your premium. You will still need to maintain your state’s minimum required coverage levels, and, if you have a loan or lease, you may need to keep full coverage on your vehicle, which includes comprehensive and collision, but you might be able to trim optional coverage selections.
- Consider a different car: The make and model of every vehicle is rated differently by insurance companies and it costs more to insure more expensive vehicles. This comes down to safety ratings, materials, cost of repair and many other factors. If you need to cut down the cost of your car insurance policy, consider getting one of these cheap-to-insure options
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 coverage that meets 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.
Incident: Rates were calculated by evaluating our base profile with the following incidents applied: clean record (base) and at-fault accident.