How Long Does an Accident Affect Your Insurance?
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UPDATED: Oct 1, 2020
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An accident can happen to anyone no matter their driving record. In 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that over six million car accidents were reported to authorities. This does not include the many small fender-benders that were not reported.
The chances of getting into an accident at some point in your life are good. This means that the chances of the accident being reflected with higher insurance rates is also quite good.
You can expect a car accident to boost your insurance premiums for three years. But that is not the end of it. There is a probationary period of six years that an accident will stay on their record. That means if you get into another accident within six years of the first, you may find your rates going up sharply.
The type of accident that occurs will have a strong influence on how much your rates will rise. But keep in mind that three years is the insurance standard across most companies. The accident will remain on your insurance record for another three years as probation.
Keep in mind that in terms of your driving record, three years is what you will see. Many insurance companies will either boost your rates immediately where they will stay for three years. Or, depending on the insurance you receive, the company may raise your rates initially and then let them fall gradually over a three-year period.
Remember that your car insurance rates depend on several factors that include the following;
- Make & Model
- Driving History
While age and gender are categories that you might have difficulty changing, you can address the vehicle you drive, where you live, and do what is possible to maintain a good driving record. Having a single accident may cause your rates to rise. But it will depend on the type of collision along with who is at fault.
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Types of Accidents
There are many different types of accidents, ranging from fender-benders up to totalling your vehicle. An accident may put you or someone involved in the hospital or worse. Or, you may walk away without a scratch. The type of accident you experience will affect your car insurance rate. What follows are the three basic types of accidents you may experience.
A minor accident is usually one that called a fender-bender. This is an accident that does not interfere with the performance of the vehicle, and the damage itself is usually contained in one small area of the car or truck.
This is the most common type of accident with many that do not get reported to the authorities. Besides, a minor accident will rarely exceed the deductible of most car insurance. So, making repairs is usually up to the driver.
An unreported accident is one that does not appear on your insurance. However, if you want to have the insurance company pay for the repairs, then it will need to be reported. Keep in mind that such accidents, even small ones of this nature, may cause your rates to rise depending on certain circumstances.
A major accident is one that damages the vehicle to the extent that it must be repaired to remain drivable or to be legal to drive on the public streets. Such accidents are usually caused by high-speed collisions that damage the frame, engine, axles, or other parts of the vehicle that must be repaired to be operational or legal.
Major accidents often cause injury or death, depending on the impact and circumstances. This means that if your insurance has medical coverage, it will be used as well. Major accidents are not as common compared to minor accidents. If you are not at fault, you still run the risk of having your insurance rates climb.
A totaled vehicle is a car or truck damaged to the point where the cost of repair is higher than its value. Between repair or replacement, insurance companies will pay the lesser of the two.
While there are three basic types of accidents, they come in two groups. A no-fault accident means that the actions of the other driver caused the accident to occur. Despite this, it is possible that your rates will go up anyway. This is because the insurance company evaluates you on risk and not just who is at fault.
A person that gets into more than one no-fault accident every six years will be considered a higher risk and might pay higher rates.
This will assuredly cause your rates to increase. Being at-fault means that you took deliberate actions that result in being the cause of the accident. This means that you are considered a high-risk driver and will pay more as a result.
Keep in mind that many who are at-fault were not deliberately trying to crash into the other vehicle. Instead, it refers to a series of events that started because you did not follow the law in operating your vehicle.
- Driving too fast
- Driving recklessly
- Pulling in front of another vehicle
- Not using traffic signals
- Failing to yield and more
There are certain circumstances that will be your fault even if the other driver took actions that helped facilitate the accident. A good example is running into the back of another vehicle. Also, if that vehicle stopped for no reason or warning, you are required by law to maintain enough distance to prevent before striking the car or truck.
Being at-fault for a major accident will raise your rates even further compared to a minor one. You can add to that if you experience another accident within six years.
How much can insurance go up?
How much your rates will go up depends on factors that are unique to your situation. In other words, each person may find themselves paying a different amount based on their insurance company, age, gender, driving record, and a host of other reasons. Suffice to say that in certain circumstances, a rise of 40% is not all that uncommon for the worst offenders.
Tips on Lowering Rates After an Accident
For those who have suffered an accident which has caused their insurance premiums to rise, there are ways to reduce the premiums over time. What follows are a few tips that you can follow. Some of them may result in lowering the rates you pay. This is true even if you have had a significant accident.
- Don’t Have Another Accident
This tip may be simpler to speak about than avoid. The one action that drives up rates after an accident is having another one mainly if that accident occurs within six years of the first. As long as an accident remains on your record, having another one will almost assuredly increase your rates even if the accident was not your fault.
- Avoid Citations
Getting a speeding ticket after having an accident will most likely boost your rates. So, in addition to driving more carefully to avoid accidents, be sure to avoid tickets as well. A simple citation for a moving violation may cost you plenty in terms of the rates you pay.
- Enroll in Accident Forgiveness
Some insurance companies such as Allstate, for example, offer accident forgiveness.
This means that if you suffer an accident for the first time, it will not be counted against you, assuming you have not had one in the recent past. Different insurance companies have their standards with this policy. It does reward drivers who rarely get into accidents. However, expect to pay a little more for this to be on your insurance plan.
- Attend Driver’s School
Recognized driver schools can help you mitigate the effects of an accident on your driving record. Check with your insurance agent. In most cases attending a driving school that is recognized by the company will help lower your rates whether you had an accident or not. Driving school is an excellent way for young drivers to lower their premiums, but it applies to drivers of all ages.
- Get a Safer Vehicle
As you may have noticed, some vehicles have higher rates than others. You tend to pay less if you are driving a pickup compared to a sports car. This does not mean your chances of an accident are any less. The protection you have is simply more significant, which means paying a lower rate.
There are other factors that you might try to lower the rates that you pay. From comparison shopping to bundling different plans into one company, you can search for ways to find discounts that can be used whether you get into an accident or not.
Be sure to speak with your agent, go over your insurance policy, and ask what to do to lower your rates. The more you do today, the better off you will be tomorrow in dealing with an accident and its effects on your car insurance premiums.