How Long Does an Accident Affect Your Car Insurance Rate?

Jessica Nguyen
December 28, 2020

Getting into a car accident at any age, under any circumstance, is a very stressful situation and the consequences of it will last longer than you would like. It’s hopeful thinking that once your car is fixed and the insurance claim is settled that you can forget that the accident ever happened but, like your credit history, automobile accidents will temporarily adversely affect your car insurance rate. The exact number of years the accident remains on your record depends on various factors, such as the state you live in, what percentage of fault you were assigned, the seriousness of the infraction, your age, etc. This higher premium is what’s called a “surcharge.” The way insurance companies determine the surcharge amount varies among providers and according to the state where the accident happened, but there are some questions they will all consider, such as whether the accident was minor or major and if it was your first accident or one of multiple accidents.

Just how much does your car insurance go up after an accident? On average your premium will increase by 46 percent or higher after an accident. And how long does an accident stay on your record? An accident will stay on your record for at least three years or more. Most car companies only factor the past five years of your driving record. So if you had an accident or violation six or seven years ago, it won’t affect your rate.

The Average Cost of Car Insurance After an Accident

The average cost of car insurance after you are found to be at-fault in an accident is $2,444 per year. This insurance rate is for when you have comprehensive and collision insurance coverages and the state minimum insurance requirements including liability on your vehicle.

The national average cost of car insurance is about $1,580 per year. So you can see how getting into an accident makes your premium a lot more expensive.  

With good credit, the average car insurance rate is about $1,570.

With full coverage, the average rate on car insurance is $1,548. 

For a good driver with good credit, the rate is $1,550 per year.

After an at-fault wreck, the average insurance rate is $2,450. 

For a good driver with poor credit, the average car insurance rate is $2,795.

And after a DUI, the average car insurance rate is $3,127.

A premium increase after an accident usually lasts three to five years, but this varies by company and state. 

Let’s look at some examples. In California, the rate after an accident increases by 80 percent. So if your insurance premium was $1,500 per year, your rate would increase to $2,700 after an accident.

Things are a bit more reasonable after an accident in Texas. Your rate only increases by 45 percent after an accident. So if you were paying a $1,350 premium after the accident you would pay $1957.50.

In Michigan, the average insurance rates increase by more than $1,000 per year after an accident. So if you had a $2,400 insurance premium, you would see that premium increase to $3,400 after an accident.

Risk is the most important factor in rating a car accident so you will be penalized for however long your state and insurer dictate.

When Will My Rate Go Up After an Accident on My Record?

Your insurance rate will go up after an accident at renewal by as much as 50 percent depending on where you live and your insurer.

I Live in a No-Fault State: Will an Accident Stay on My Record if it’s Not My Fault?

In the 12 states with no-fault insurance, higher rates are more likely after a crash even if you aren’t to blame. 

I Don’t Live in a No-Fault State: Will My Rate Go Up After An Accident?

How long an accident stays on your record varies according to factors, such as where you live, whether you were at fault and the seriousness of the violation and any prior driving offenses you may have. 

In California, most minor accidents will be gone from your record in three years. In Florida, accidents remain for three to five years on a driver’s record. And in Michigan, any points that you acquired in an accident will stay on your record for just two years.

Accidents stay on your record even if you weren’t at fault. Will you be penalized though? Believe it or not, a not-at-fault accident may make your insurance costs go up about 12 percent. 

California and Oklahoma are the only two states that prohibit insurance companies from raising rates after an accident where you are not at fault. In all other states you may see insurance rates rise slightly after being in a not-at-fault accident. 

In Massachusetts, your rate goes up after an accident only if you’re more than 50 percent at fault. 

Hit and run accidents in which you were the victim are never used against you. 

Do Alcohol Related Accidents Stay on Your Record Longer?

A DUI conviction in California stays on your driving record for 10 years. Let’s look at some other states. In Florida, a DUI will stay on a driving record for 75 years. In Alabama, a DUI stays on a driver’s record for just five years. In Colorado, a DUI conviction will stick to a driver’s record for 10 years. And in Iowa, having a DUI conviction will last on your driving record for 12 years.

If I Have Accident Forgiveness Will an Accident Stay on My Record?

Yes, but your rates won’t go up. If you have accident forgiveness with your insurance company, your insurance rate will not go up even if you are at-fault in an accident. 

  • Insurance companies that have accident forgiveness include Allstate, Geico, The Hartford, Liberty Mutual, Nationwide, Progressive, State Farm, Farmers, American Family, Erie, Travelers, Safeco and USAA.

  • Farmers Insurance forgives one at-fault accident every three years.  

  • Geico has free and upgraded accident forgiveness.

  • Liberty Mutual offers accident forgiveness if you go five years without an accident or violation, even if you were with another insurance carrier. 

  • Nationwide extends accident forgiveness to every driver but only allows one forgiven accident per policy. 

  • Progressive offers “small accident forgiveness” for claims less than $500 and “large accident forgiveness” once you’ve been a Progressive customer for at least five years with no accident in three years. 

After a number of years with Safeco without an at-fault accident or violation, you will have accident forgiveness.

At Travelers, you have accident forgiveness if you buy a responsible driver plan. 

Remain accident-free for five years at USAA and your premium won’t go up with an at-fault accident.

Am I A High-Risk Driver Because of an Accident on My Record?

A high-risk driver is someone who is more likely to file an insurance claim than the typical driver. A high-risk driver may have a history of accidents, several tickets and citations, bad credit or a conviction for a DUI.

To get a good insurance deal with an accident on your record, shop around after you get your renewal quote. With SmartFinancial, you’ll find rock-bottom prices from the best insurers. 

Drivers with accidents and violations on their records will pay more for insurance.  

If you have multiple violations and accidents, you will be classified as a high-risk driver and you will need to look for what’s called non-standard insurance. 

Breakdown of Different Violations that Stay on Your Record

In general, a first minor accident and hit-and-run accident will stay on your driving record for three years. A DUI will stay on your driving record for five to 10 years.

Let’s look at a couple of states. In Florida, a minor crash and a hit-and-run accident stays on your driving record for three to five years. But a DUI will stay on your driving record in Florida for 75 years. 

In California, minor crashes and hit-and-run accidents stay on your driving record for three to five years. A DUI stays on your driving record for 10 years.  

How Can I Lower My Insurance Rate After an Accident?

Look into driver safety classes. They remove points for moving violations. 

Look at the tickets and see if a course will knock off a point for two. It makes a difference!

See what discounts you may be eligible for because they may offset the rate hike you can expect at renewal. 

Here is a roundup of discounts that many car insurance companies offer.

Bundle policies. Bundle your auto insurance policy with another insurance policy such as a homeowners policy and save money on your premiums. 

Insure more than one car. If you have more than one car to insure, it is smart to insure them with the same company. You’ll save money with a multi-policy discount.  

Pay once or twice a year. Rather than paying monthly auto insurance bills, pay the entire annual amount or six-months amount. Your premium is lower when you pay just once or twice a year. 

Go paperless. Choose e-billing and e-documents for your policy documents and you’ll save money on your car insurance. 

Check safety features. Having certain anti-theft or safety features on your car will lower your car insurance. So be sure to check to see if the features on your car warrant a discount. 

Review professional groups. Members of particular professional organizations and affiliates get discounts on car insurance. Check to see if the memberships in your wallet earn you a discount on car insurance.

Stick with your insurance coverage. You’ll pay higher insurance rates if you don’t maintain continuous coverage of your auto insurance. So stick with your coverage and save money on your premium. 

Check for discounts. Students and veterans may be eligible for discounts on car insurance. So if you are a member of one of these groups, be sure to let your car insurance company know. It could save you money.

Be a married motorist. If you are married, you will pay less for car insurance. There is a correlation between being married and exhibiting safe driving behavior. Because of this, married drivers pay less for auto insurance than singles.

Be a homeowner. Statistics show that people who own homes drive more safely. So let your insurance company know that you own your home and enjoy the savings on your auto insurance premium.

How Long Does an Accident Affect Your Car Insurance Rate?

An accident will not affect your insurance rate forever. Most insurance companies will generally only look back at the last 3-5 years of your driving history when calculating your premium. The length of time an accident appears on your driving record depends on factors such as, how severe the accident was and which state you live in. For example, in California, most minor accidents stay on your driving record for three years whereas more serious violations, like a DUI, will stay on your record for 10 years.

Even if you weren’t at fault, you will have to report the accident to your provider and it will appear on your record if damages were more than $1,000, if anyone was injured, or if anyone died as a result of it. Even though certain car accidents will only raise your rates for a certain number of years, you will be in a probationary period that can last as long as six years. So if you cause another accident or get a ticket within that same timeframe, your rate will increase even more and take longer to disappear, but if you manage to drive accident-free, your rates will eventually drop.

What Happens if I Switch Insurers After an Accident?

You may try to look for a loophole to a higher rate by switching to another provider, but they will also know about the accident. The number of years your rate will be higher will be exactly the same with another company. This is because every property claim you file gets logged in your personal insurance report card, known as a CLUE report. This report goes back seven years and every insurance company can assess it. However, that doesn’t mean that every insurer will offer you the same rate; they will just raise it for the same length of time.

Your insurance company only knows about the accidents you report so if you’re involved in a minor incident such as a fender bender, and you’re able to resolve it on your own without needing financial assistance from your insurance provider, you’ll be able to avoid seeing a premium increase. But it’s always best to report everything so that there is a paper trail for the other party in case anything happens, and luckily the surcharge in events like these will not be too damaging to notice.

Your Rates Will Probably Go Up After an Accident If:

  • You’re found to be at fault.

  • The cost of damages is significant.

  • You have multiple violations within a short period of time.

  • You’re involved in an accident resulting in serious bodily harm or death.

Your Rates Might Not Go Up After an Accident If:

  • The other driver is found to be 100% at fault for the collision.

  • It’s your first incident, and your provider has accident forgiveness (can only be used once).

Causing a car accident will lead to higher insurance premiums but it truly depends on the details of the accident and your driving history. The cost of the accident which your provider will have to pay for is also a huge factor in determining your surcharge. If the amount of damage is below $1,000, the surcharge will be significantly less than if damages of the accident exceed $10,000. If you are at fault and someone is injured, you will lose your good driver discount and see a 20%-25% premium increase that will be applied for at least 3 years. Not only that but your car insurance rates may increase as much as 32%, even if you weren’t completely at fault.

Look for Affordable Car Insurance

Point System for Accident Surcharges

Every state’s DMV has its own policies regarding how long different types of accidents and violations will remain on your record. Many states use a “points” system to track and sum up your violations. With this, different states will have different rules about what types of accidents your insurance company can use, or how far back they can look into your history. Therefore, any points accumulated against you will inadvertently also impact your report in your insurance company’s point system. Most insurance companies also use a point-based system to calculate surcharges and also have specific points depending on the type of incident. It’s important to remember that the more points you accumulate, and the larger the claim, the higher the surcharge on your car insurance rate.

How Do I Get the Cheapest Rate?

Compare insurance quotes to see who will offer you the best rate. Each insurance company weighs each factor differently so it’s important to shop around before you decide on a company. Start by entering your zip code below. You’ll then answer a few questions before getting your free quotes.

Get a Free Auto Insurance Quote Online Now.

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