After a car crash, there are pressing questions to answer, like: “How do I file a claim?” and “Where can I go to get treated for injuries?” But when the dust settles, you’ll find yourself asking another fairly important question that can affect you in the longer term: “How much does car insurance go up after an accident?”
The answer depends on the severity of your accident, your insurance company, and your state’s laws. Here are the common questions regarding post-accident insurance premiums that address these factors.
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Which Accidents Increase Insurance Rates?
Generally, accidents raise insurance rates more than moving violations. Accidents that raise your premium are called chargeable accidents. They include accidents where you are more than 50 percent at fault and cause injury, death, or property damage. Property damage includes anything you damage in a crash, including landscaping, fences, and other vehicles.
There are un-chargeable accidents, including:
- Impacts with animals
- Rear-end accidents where you did not commit a moving violation
- Damage to your parked car
- The other driver committed a moving violation, and you did not
- Accidents caused by first responders while responding to an emergency
- Accidents where you file a personal injury protection (PIP) claim, but no liability or collision claims
- The at-fault driver reimburses you for damages
- Falling or flying objects hit your car
If you add accident forgiveness coverage, you may be able to avoid asking, “How much does car insurance go up after an accident?” However, this coverage typically only applies to one accident per policy.
For example, Farmers Insurance only applies accident forgiveness to one rash for every three years you drive without an accident. USAA requires you to be accident and moving violation-free for five years before offering the coverage. However, if you qualify for accident forgiveness, USAA provides the coverage for free.
How Much Does Car Insurance Go Up After An Accident?
On average, premiums for full coverage auto insurance increase by $750 a year after an accident. The difference between a property damage-only accident and a personal injury accident is slight as the national average premium increases for property damage and personal injury are 45 percent and 47 percent, respectively.
Your exact increase depends on your insurance carrier and where you live. For example:
- Wyoming drivers face the smallest average increase at 31 percent for both property damage and personal injury accidents.
- California drivers face the highest rates at a 97 percent average increase for personal injury accidents.
- Geico has the highest average rate increase after an accident at 77 percent.
- State Farm has the lowest average rate increase at 22 percent.
Some states place limits on chargeable accidents. Massachusetts does not allow premium increases unless the accident results in a claim payment of more than $1,000. New York has a similar law as it does not allow premium increases on accidents involving less than $2,000 of injury and property damage.
When Do Car Accidents Fall Off Insurance?
A car accident stays on your insurance for three to five years. Like other factors, this one also depends on your insurance company and state law.
Typically, car insurance providers never look back further than five years on your driving record. Even if your provider looks back that far, it doesn’t mean you’ll face a higher premium for five years. Your premium will decrease as you prove safer driving by not getting into any accidents and not picking up any moving violations.
State laws vary on this issue too. For example, Texas allows insurance companies to increase premiums on policyholders who caused an accident within the last three years. Massachusetts allows these surcharges to apply to accidents committed within the previous five years.
How Can You Reduce Insurance Premiums?
There are things you can do even if you pay higher premiums for an accident now. As you wait for the premium to decrease, you can:
- Be a safer driver: The three years after an at-fault accident are crucial for proving yourself. During that time, additional accidents and tickets will be expensive, with few opportunities for relief. It’s conservative driving for you those years. So be careful, avoid accidents, and don’t speed or run stoplights.
- Seek discounts: Ask your insurance agent about discounts. If you take a defensive driving course or bundle home and auto insurance, your premium may decrease. Check your policy and confirm that you reported all safety features. Automatic seatbelts, backup cameras, and airbags may reduce premiums.
- Adjust your policy: Increasing your deductible from $200 to $1,000 can make your insurance more affordable. If your car is financed, check their insurance requirements. Many loan carriers require lower deductibles and full collision coverage.
- Shop around: It may be worth checking other companies if your accident is over three years old. Your company may have a five-year lookback period, but another company that only checks three years of driving records may offer a lower premium and more features.
Does A Recent Accident Threaten Your Insurance Rates?
“How much does car insurance go up after an accident?” is an important question to ask, but there may be concrete steps you can take before it comes to that point. With the right advocate on your side you can challenge fault or any other findings against you. Get started with a free evaluation of your case.
Legal Disclaimer: This article contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation and should not be interpreted as creating an attorney-client relationship. If you have legal questions, you should seek the advice of an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.