How To Save on Car Insurance With Accident Forgiveness
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While getting into a car accident will generally raise your car insurance premiums, your rates may not increase after a single accident if you add accident forgiveness to your policy. You will usually need to maintain a clean driving record for several years before you can qualify for this insurance add-on.
Continue reading for more information about accident forgiveness including how it works and who it may be best for.
What Is Accident Forgiveness?
Accident forgiveness is a benefit offered by many car insurance companies that prevents your premium from going up after a car accident. Normally, your rates will increase by 34% to 44% at renewal after a crash that you are responsible for.
How Do I Qualify for Accident Forgiveness?
Accident forgiveness eligibility criteria can vary depending on your insurer but in general you can qualify by maintaining a clean driving record and staying with the same car insurance company for an extended period of time. For example, GEICO customers may qualify for accident forgiveness by going at least five years without any accidents. Along with avoiding at-fault crashes and other moving violations for several years, additional requirements may include falling within a certain age range and living in a certain region.
How Does Accident Forgiveness Work?
In general, you can take the following steps to make sure your accident forgiveness benefit applies after you are involved in a car accident:
- Add accident forgiveness to your policy: The first step is naturally to ask a representative from your insurance carrier if the company offers accident forgiveness and whether you are eligible. If you meet the insurer’s requirements, simply ask for accident forgiveness to be added to your policy and be prepared to pay a slightly higher premium.
- Follow the usual claims process: The next time you get into an accident, you’ll need to take the normal steps necessary to file a car insurance claim. This includes pulling over to a safe location, exchanging contact information with the other driver, taking photos and videos to document the accident scene and contacting your insurance company to let it know about the crash.
- Settle the claim: If it’s determined that you are at fault for the accident, then your liability insurance will kick in to cover the other driver’s medical expenses and vehicle repairs. Keep in mind that your own property repairs and hospital bills will only be covered if your policy includes collision coverage and personal injury protection (PIP) or medical payments coverage (Medpay).
- Use the accident forgiveness benefit: The accident forgiveness benefit should automatically apply, meaning you will not incur a surcharge that significantly raises your premium when you renew your policy. Depending on your insurance provider, you may eventually qualify for accident forgiveness again if you can go several years without getting into another collision.
How Much Does Accident Forgiveness Cost?
You may have to pay up to $100 per year if you’d like to purchase accident forgiveness as a policy endorsement. However, it’s worth noting that some insurers may add accident forgiveness to your policy free of charge in certain situations. For example, GEICO offers both free and paid accident forgiveness benefits, with the no-cost benefit acting as a customer loyalty reward.
Who Is Accident Forgiveness Best For?
Accident forgiveness is ideal if your policy covers a young person who drives regularly because young drivers are more likely to get into accidents than more experienced drivers and often pay more for coverage, meaning they could face steeper premium increases following an accident. However, you should keep in mind that some insurers set age restrictions for accident forgiveness eligibility. For example, free accident forgiveness from GEICO may not apply to drivers who are younger than 21.
John Crist, founder and managing director of Prestizia Insurance, also recommends accident forgiveness for more mature drivers who may be in a good position to take advantage of their years of practicing safe driving habits.
“Older adults, who may already enjoy lower rates due to their extensive driving experience, can see this as an extra layer of protection to preserve their low premiums,” Crist said in an email to SmartFinancial. “It’s all about balancing the cost of adding accident forgiveness to your policy versus the potential spike in premiums following an at-fault accident. The decision should hinge on an individual’s financial situation, driving habits and risk tolerance.”
Is Accident Forgiveness Worth It?
Avoid paying higher premiums
May not be available in all states
Peace of mind
Entire household may need to qualify
Free for safe drivers and loyal customers
|Accident remains on your claims history
Benefits of Accident Forgiveness Insurance
- Avoid paying higher premiums: A $100 accident forgiveness add-on could save you money in the long run by canceling out the premium increase you would otherwise experience after an at-fault collision. The average cost of full coverage is $1,982 per year for good drivers with good credit, which means you could expect a 40% premium surcharge to add nearly $800 to your car insurance payments each year without accident forgiveness.
- Peace of mind: No matter how safe of a driver you are, there’s always the chance that an accident will happen. By budgeting a little bit extra each month to cover the cost of accident forgiveness, you can alleviate any concerns that a one-off accident will make your auto insurance policy unaffordable, hopefully enabling you to drive with more confidence.
- Free for safe drivers and loyal customers: You may not have to pay for accident forgiveness at all if your insurer automatically offers it as part of the company’s customer loyalty program. Of course, you’ll generally still need to keep up your spotless driving record to qualify.
Drawbacks of Accident Forgiveness
- May not be available in all states: Even if you’ve seen an insurance company advertise accident forgiveness online, you’ll need to talk to an agent in your area to verify whether the benefit is actually available in your state. For example, you can’t get accident forgiveness through GEICO in California, Connecticut or Massachusetts.
- Entire household may need to qualify: Your accident forgiveness coverage may apply to every driver named on your policy, so you may not qualify in the first place if even a single person in your household has been in an accident recently. In addition, the benefit may only apply once no matter how many drivers are on the policy. For example, if you buy accident forgiveness with your child in mind but then your spouse causes a crash, your child may not be able to claim the benefit if they get into an accident later on.
- Accident remains on your claims history: If you decide to shop around, other insurance companies can still see the forgiven car accident in your claims history. They can factor that accident into their underwriting and charge you a higher rate as a result.
Which Insurance Carriers Have Accident Forgiveness?
Examples of major auto insurance companies that offer accident forgiveness include the following:
What Are the Alternatives to Accident Forgiveness?
If you aren’t eligible for accident forgiveness or are interested in similar benefits to add to your accident forgiveness, consider alternatives such as these:
- Disappearing deductible: When you have disappearing deductible coverage, your collision insurance deductible will decrease over time if you maintain an accident-free driving record. Although your rates may still go up after an at-fault accident, you will end up saving money since you won’t have to pay as much out of pocket before getting your car repairs covered by your insurance company.
- Telematics: If you sign up for telematics or usage-based insurance (UBI), your insurance carrier will track your driving behaviors and reward you with a lower premium if you practice safe driving habits. However, you should keep in mind that this could lead to higher rates instead if you fail to consistently follow the rules of the road.
- Rate lock: Some insurance companies also offer a rate lock benefit, meaning your premium is guaranteed to stay the same for a set period of time regardless of whether you get into a car accident during that time frame.
- Minor violation forgiveness: Similar to accident forgiveness, minor violation forgiveness is a benefit provided by some insurance carriers that ensures that your rates won’t go up due to a minor traffic citation.
How To Get Accident Forgiveness
Before settling on a car insurance policy with accident forgiveness, you should take a look at quotes from at least three to five different car insurance carriers. These insurers will need to see information about your vehicle and your driving record. However, it can undoubtedly be tedious to individually reach out to insurers to give them this information.
Instead, you should take the easy path and compare quotes through SmartFinancial. All you have to do is answer a few questions about your coverage needs and we’ll match you up with experienced insurance agents who can help you find the right policy. If you’d like a car insurance quote for free, click here now.