Getting involved in an accident will generally raise your car insurance premiums. And this can stick with you for years.
On average, your car insurance rates will increase between 28% and 60% after an accident resulting in a claim depending on your insurer, severity, and state.
But not all car accidents will increase your premium rates. If your premiums do increase, there are ways you may reduce them.
So, we took an in-depth look at how much your car insurance rates will increase after an accident.
How Does a Car Accident Impact Your Insurance?
After an accident, whether or not your insurance will increase depends on your fault status.
If you’re at fault for an accident, your insurance rates will likely increase during renewal. If you’re not at fault, you’re not out of the hook either, because insurers can still find ways of increasing your rates.
Insurers, and the law, consider an at-fault accident a “chargeable” accident. This generally means you were more than 50% at fault for the accident and caused one or both of these:
- Damage: this can be damage to the other party’s property, such as a car, a fence, a house, etc.
- Bodily injury: can be an injury or death of someone else involved in the accident.
The car liability portion of your insurance policy covers bodily injury, death, or property damage.
When the other party makes a claim against your liability insurance, it can result in a “surcharge.” This is the actual premium rate increase after a “chargeable” car accident.
But the surcharge will only begin when you next renew your policy. No insurer can surcharge you any amount in the middle of a policy period.
In addition, the car accident’s overall severity and the resulting costs in the form of insurance claims will impact your rates increase. For instance, a minor parking lot incident won’t have the same impact as a major highway accident.
Your insurance provider won’t raise your premium rates in some states if the claim is below your deductible or under a given dollar amount.
How Much Will My Insurance Rates Increase After an Accident?
Getting an accident or a moving violation on your record is a big red flag to insurers and causes your premium rates to increase significantly.
Generally, your car insurance rates will increase by 46% on average after an accident that resulted in an injury or property damage. If you have a spotless driving record and cause an accident, the national average rate increase is 41%.
But it’s hard to say by how much your car insurance premium will increase after an accident. There is no one-figure-fits-all situation.
How much your rate goes up depends on various factors, including:
- Your state
- Your insurance company
- Who’s at fault in the accident
- Having prior accidents (or even moving violations) on your record
- Your age. Insurers view younger drivers as high risk, and one accident will increase their rates significantly
Additionally, drivers with accident forgiveness programs in their policy will not see their rates go up after their first accident. But the specific details always vary between insurers.
Some states might see a rate increase far more than the average, whether or not you have a record.
For example, while an accident in Kansas causes a rate increase of 8%, in California, the average rate increase is 73.60%, while in Arizona, it stands at 34.20%.
Rate increases tend to be more when the accident also results in property damage. And, if your record has a history of accidents, expect even a steeper rate increase. Why?
Insurers view you as a risky driver, and you’re likely to make more claims.
The rate increase also depends on the insurer. While nearly all car insurance companies will increase your rates after an accident, the amount varies between companies. Often, this ranges between about $165 and $850.
Check around and see how your insurance provider increases their rates after an accident. You can ask your insurance agent about this information.
Will Insurance Rates Go Up If I Didn’t Cause the Accident?
Generally, after an accident, your insurer and state’s laws heavily influence the impact on your premium rates.
Most insurers use fault to determine whether or not to increase your rates. In most cases, your rates will only go up if you’re found at fault for an accident that causes damage or injuries.
If you are found not at fault for an accident, your rates may not go up. However, this isn’t so in all cases. Some companies will still raise rates, albeit slightly, after an incident.
You will need proof that you’re not to blame for the accident. This can include:
- A police report distancing you from the fault of the accident
- The other driver’s written statement accepting fault
- A statement from the other driver’s insurer accepting fault
Also, many accidents paid by comprehensive policy generally don’t result in a rate increase. These accidents may include collisions with animals or damage caused by flying or falling objects.
How Long Will An Accident Stay On Your Record And Affect Your Insurance Rates?
On average, a car accident will stay on your driving record for three to five years.
But the exact length of time depends on your state, insurance company, and severity of the accident.
For example, in New York State and Arizona, an accident or traffic violation will stay on your record until the end of the year when the incident occurred, plus 3 years after. In Florida and Oregon, an accident will stay on your record for 5 years.
If you’re involved in a DWI/DUI or reckless driving accident, the incident will stay on your record longer, for even up to 10 years.
Tips To Lower Your Car Insurance Rates After An Accident
If your car insurance rates increase after an accident and you cannot get accident forgiveness, you can do a few things to lower the rate. These include:
- Increase your deductible: Increasing your deductible has an inherent risk because it means more out-of-pocket expenses if you are in an at-fault accident. But, a higher deductible will lower your insurance premium.
- Ask for discounts: Take advantage of the wide range of discounts that insurers offer, including discounts for safe driving courses, good students, multiple policies, and good driving tracked by an app.
- Improve your credit score: In many states, your credit rating is important in determining your car insurance rate. Pay debts, stay within your spending budget, and address discrepancies on your credit to better your credit score.
- Shop around: Compare insurance quotes from different insurers and find one that fits you. You will also find other discounts and deductibles from other companies that may suit you. The rate increase will follow you, but you can find better rates.
Whether or not you’re at fault for an accident, expect a rate increase on your next renewal. Your rate increase can be high or low, mostly spending on your insurer and your state. This is why we urge you (consumers) to compare quotes and reputations of insurers before settling on one after an accident. Different insurers will treat the same driver seeking insurance after an accident very differently.