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Car accidents can be emotionally, physically and financially traumatic. Even if everyone walks away from the incident with little or no injury, the aftermath can still have long-term consequences.
In addition to handling medical payments and fixing your vehicle, the accident can stay on your record for years, affecting your insurance rate.
Here’s what you need to know about how long car accidents stay on your record:
How long do accidents stay on your file?
Most car accidents will stay on your file for three to five years in the eyes of insurers – an accident that happened seven years ago might still be on your file, but most insurers won’t take it into account when determining your rate. The exact duration varies depending on the state you live in.
For example, in California, collisions stay on your driving record for three years unless the collision was reported by law enforcement and the incident involved a commercial vehicle or hazardous materials. In this case, the accident will remain on your file for 10 years. In Michigan, however, most at-fault accidents remain on your record for seven years. Fatal accidents or DUIs stay on your record permanently.
You can find the specific time frame for your state by checking your state’s Department (or Bureau) of Motor Vehicles website.
Crashes and point systems
Most states also have a point system. Under this system, drivers are awarded points for various traffic violations. These points do not affect how long accidents stay on your record, but you can lose your driver’s license if you have too many points.
Accidents can affect your points if you violate traffic laws and cause a collision. For example, in Nevada, disobeying a traffic sign can earn you four points – so if you run a stop sign and hit another car, you could rack up those points. You could also get six points in Nevada if you fail to provide your accident scene information. Since accidents remain on your record for several years, you can expect your insurance premium to suffer for some time as well.
How much will your rates increase after an accident?
The amount your rate increases after an accident depends on your insurer. For example, Progressive says its customers who have an at-fault accident are seeing an average increase of 28% nationwide. The increased rates remain on your insurance for an average of three years.
Several factors determine the increase in your automobile insurance premiums following an automobile accident. Here are some common things that could determine your rate increases:
- Mistake: Your insurance premiums may increase even if you are involved in a no-fault accident; however, your rates will increase further when you are found responsible for the accident. You may be able to purchase no-fault insurance that provides additional coverage regardless of who is responsible for the accident.
- The severity of the accident: If you’re involved with a fender bender with minor damage, your rates may not change (especially if you can pay out of pocket for repairs). However, if your insurance company has to pay for medical bills, damages, or the cost of a totaled car, your rates will likely go up.
- Your driving record: If you have a history of accidents and speeding tickets, you’ll likely get a higher premium because your insurer will likely consider you a riskier driver. Sometimes an insurance company may also choose not to renew your policy when it expires, especially if you have committed an offense like drunk driving.
- Age: Teenage drivers and older drivers are likely to have higher rates anyway, but following crashes these groups may also experience larger increases, as insurance companies consider them to be high-risk drivers. risk.
How to handle auto insurance rate increases
If you wish to reduce your insurance premium, several options are available to you. It’s a law in all states (except New Hampshire and Virginia) to have proof of car insurance, so cutting your policy usually isn’t an option. Maintaining coverage can protect you from thousands of dollars in expenses if you are involved in a serious accident.
Here are some ways to save money on your car insurance:
- Compare the prices. Compare insurance rates from multiple providers. Insurers usually offer free quotes. Most quotes only take a few minutes and you could potentially save a lot of money.
- Reduce your coverage. One way to save money on your insurance is to choose less expensive coverage. For example, if you have an older car, you might consider a liability-only, collision-no-collision, and comprehensive coverage policy. Just make sure you always maintain at least the minimum level of insurance required by your state. And it’s a good idea to have enough money in your emergency fund to cover repairs in the event of an incident.
- Increase your deductible. A deductible is the amount of money you have to pay out of pocket if you file a claim. If you have a $500 deductible, you can increase it to $1,000 or more. You would pay more for any future claims, but your annual premium would be lower.
- Bundle insurance policies. Many insurers offer a discount for bundling or combining multiple policies with a single insurer. For example, you can bundle auto, home, and life insurance for a possible rate reduction.
What is accident forgiveness?
Some insurance companies offer an accident forgiveness program. Although the program varies from insurer to insurer, some features are generally the same from provider to provider.
When you pay for accident forgiveness, you avoid post-accident rate increases when claims are below a set cap. For minor accidents this could be around $500, while larger policies offer forgiveness against more expensive claims.
Your ability to qualify depends on the state you live in and your insurer. Many carriers require drivers to be accident-free for a certain number of years to qualify for greater forgiveness benefits.
You will most likely pay extra for accident forgiveness, although some major insurers offer incentives that allow you to get free accident forgiveness. You may consider buying accident benefits if your insurance policy has high-risk drivers (like teenagers or older parents).
Does an accident in your file affect your ability to insure yourself?
Getting new coverage following a car accident can be more difficult, but it is possible. If you’re involved in a serious accident, you may find it even harder to find a good auto insurance rate. However, a first accident usually won’t affect your ability to find affordable car insurance. You may need to shop around if you have multiple accidents or traffic violations on your record.
Several factors could affect your ability to obtain insurance in the future. Some things that could make it harder to find an insurer willing to cover you include:
- Excessive traffic offenses
- Several accidents in your file
- At-fault accidents
- Age (young drivers and older drivers, in particular)
- Suspension of driving privileges
- No registration of your vehicle
If your current provider isn’t renewing your coverage, you may need to find a carrier that works with higher-risk drivers. Your premium will likely be higher, but if you can maintain a good driving record for a few years, you may qualify for better rates later.
Disclaimer: All insurance related services are provided by Young Alfred.