Car insurance purchased after an accident is not retroactive.

 

Can you get car insurance after an accident? If you're wondering if you can get insurance to cover a past accident, the answer is no. But, you can still begin car insurance to cover future incidents after you've had an accident. 

This article will explain what to do after you’ve been in a car accident in the short and long term. Whatever your car insurance needs, finding the right car insurance policy should always start with comparing quotes from different providers. Read our review of the best car insurance companies and try our quote comparison tool below to get started, or simply call (844) 246-8209.

 

In this article:

 

What To Do If You Get Into A Car Accident

Being involved in a car accident can be traumatic and disorienting. In the moment, it may be unclear how to respond, so it’s a good idea to internalize the following steps before an accident ever occurs.

Knowing exactly what to do can help keep you calm and safe. In general, treat your safety and the safety of those around you as your first priority. How to handle repairs and insurance is secondary.

We suggest that if you are ever in an accident, you follow these basic steps in order:

  • Check yourself for injuries.
  • Check others for injuries.
  • Remove yourself to a safe place.
  • Report the accident to the police.
  • Trade information with the other driver.
  • Document damages by taking pictures if you can.
  • Contact your insurance agent.

Be sure to remain at the scene of the accident until the police arrive. You may have to amend some of these steps depending on the situation. For example, if you have injured yourself then you may not be able to take photos of the damages, and that’s okay.

Even if nobody is hurt, it’s a good idea to contact the police so that a police report can be filed. This will be a key tool for the insurance claims adjuster.

If you aren’t at fault for the accident, you may never need to call your own car insurance company. Instead, file a third-party claim with the other driver’s insurance carrier.

Can You Add Full Coverage After An Accident?

You can add full coverage to your policy at any time, but it will only cover accidents that happen after you add the coverage. Auto insurance coverage isn’t retroactive, and that includes comprehensive and collision insurance.

How Long After An Accident Can You Make An Insurance Claim?

Depending on the company, you may have as little as a day or two to begin filing a claim through your insurance. Depending on the state, you have between two and four years to file a bodily injury or property damage lawsuit, which is different from filing an insurance claim.

Will Insurance Companies Go After Uninsured Drivers?

Insurance companies settle claims with other insurance companies, not individuals. However, the victim of an accident can sue the at-fault driver for damages. In other words, individuals can go after uninsured drivers for past accidents for up to two to four years depending on the state.

Our recommendation is to avoid driving as an uninsured motorist. You don't need comprehensive or collision coverage to satisfy state liability insurance requirements. Having minimum coverage limits is much better than foregoing insurance altogether.

The flip side of this is that it's a good idea to have uninsured motorist coverage as a policyholder. Depending on the state, about five to twenty percent of drivers are uninsured at any one time. You'll have to file a civil suit to get compensation from one of these drivers unless you have uninsured motorist coverage.

 


 

What Happens If You Get Into An Accident Uninsured?

Driving without insurance is a terrible idea in most cases. Unless you live in one of the states where car insurance is not mandatory and are wealthy enough to cover the cost of any potential damage and injuries yourself, you need car insurance.

Exactly what will happen if you are caught driving without insurance is different in every state. In no state can you get off the hook by getting a new policy after an accident. 

The penalty for driving without liability coverage varies by state and how many times you’ve been caught driving without insurance in the past. Penalties range from fines to incarceration. You could have your license suspended and your car impounded. If an accident results in personal injury or property damage, you can be arrested on the spot.

The chart below describes the penalties for first-time uninsured driving offenses, according to the Consumer Federation of America.

State Fine Imprisonment or Community Service Suspension

Alabama

Up to $500

Up to 3 months in prison

Suspension of registration until $200 reinstatement fee is paid

Alaska

$500

N/A

Suspension of license for no less than 90 days

Arizona

At least $500

N/A

Suspension of license and registration for three months

Arkansas

$50–$250

N/A

Suspension of registration until proof of insurance coverage is provided and $20 fee is paid

California

$100–$200 plus penalty assessments

N/A

Potential vehicle impoundment

Colorado

At least $500

At least 40 hours community service

Suspension of license until proof of financial responsibility is provided

Connecticut

$100–$1,000

N/A

Suspension of license and registration for one month and until proof of insurance is provided

District of Columbia

$500–$2,500

N/A

Suspension of license and registration until proof of insurance is provided and a fee is paid

Delaware

$1,500–$2,000

N/A

Suspension of license for six months and until proof of insurance is provided

Florida

N/A

N/A

Suspension of license and registration until proof of insurance is provided and fine is paid

Georgia

$200–$1,000

Up to 12 months in prison

Suspension of license for six months, until proof of insurance is provided, and after $200 fee is paid

Hawaii

$500

75–100 hours of community service in lieu of fine

Suspension of license for three months and until proof of insurance is provided

Idaho

$75

N/A

Suspension of license until proof of financial responsibility is provided

Illinois

$500–$1,000

N/A

Suspension of license for three months and until $100 fee is paid

Indiana

N/A

N/A

Suspension of license for 90 days to 1 year and until $150 fee is paid

Iowa

$250

Community service in lieu of fine

Possible impoundment and suspension of license and registration

Kansas

$300–$1,000

Up to six months imprisonment

Suspension of license and registration until proof of insurance is provided and $100 fee is paid

Kentucky

$500–$1,000

Up to 90 days imprisonment

Suspension of registration for one year or until proof of insurance is provided

Louisiana

Up to $500

N/A

Suspension of registration, revocation of plates, and possible vehicle impoundment until proof of insurance is provided and $60 fee is paid

Montana

$250–$500

Up to 10 days imprisonment

N/A

Maine

$100–$500

N/A

Suspension of license and registration until proof of insurance is provided

Maryland

$150–$2,500

N/A

Suspension of registration until proof of insurance is provided and $25 fee is paid

Massachusetts

$1,000

Up to one year imprisonment

Suspension of license for 60 days

Michigan

$200–$500

Up to one year imprisonment

Suspension of license for 30 days or until proof of insurance is provided and $25 fee is paid

Minnesota

$200–$1,000

Up to 90 days imprisonment

Suspension of license for 30 days to 12 months and possible vehicle impoundment until proof of insurance is provided

Mississippi

$500

N/A

Suspension of license for one year or until proof of insurance is provided

Missouri

Up to $500

N/A

Suspension of license and registration until proof of insurance is provided and $20 fee is paid

Nebraska

N/A

N/A

Suspension of license and registration until proof of insurance is provided and $100 fee is paid

Nevada

$250–$1,000

N/A

Suspension of registration until SR-22 is provided and $250 fee is paid

New Hampshire

N/A

N/A

N/A

New Jersey

$300–$1,000

Community service

Suspension of license for one year

New Mexico

Up to $300

Up to 90 days imprisonment

Suspension of registration until proof of insurance is provided

New York

$150–$1,500

Up to 15 days imprisonment

Suspension of license and registration for 90 days or the amount of time the vehicle was operated without insurance

North Carolina

$50

Up to 45 days imprisonment

Suspension of registration for 30 days and $50 fee is paid

North Dakota

$150–$1,000

N/A

Suspension of license until proof of insurance is provided and $100 fee is paid

Ohio

N/A

N/A

Suspension of license and registration until proof of insurance is provided and $160 fee is paid

Oklahoma

Up to $250

Up to 30 days imprisonment

Suspension of license and possible vehicle impoundment until proof of insurance is provided and $275 fee is paid

Oregon

$130–$1,000

N/A

N/A

Pennsylvania

$300

N/A

Suspension of license and registration for three months, after proof of financial responsibility is provided and $100 fee is paid

Rhode Island

$100–$500

N/A

Suspension of license and registration up to three months, after proof of financial responsibility is provided and $60–$100 fee is paid

South Carolina

$100–$200 and $5 for every day without insurance

Up to 30 days imprisonment

Suspension of license and registration until proof of insurance is provided and $200 fee is paid

South Dakota

Up to $500

Up to 30 days imprisonment

Suspension of license and registration for 30 days to 1 year, after proof of financial responsibility is provided and $50 fee is paid

Tennessee

Up to $300

N/A

Suspension of license and registration until proof of financial responsibility is provided, $100 fee is paid, and driver’s license examination is passed

Texas

$175–$350

N/A

N/A

Utah

Not less than $400

N/A

Suspension of license and registration until proof of owner’s security is provided and $100 fee is paid

Vermont

$250–$500

N/A

Suspension of license until proof of financial responsibility is provided

Virginia

Up to $500

N/A

Suspension of license and registration until proof of financial responsibility is provided and $500 fee is paid

Washington

Up to $287

Community service

N/A

West Virginia

$200–$5,000

15 days–1 year imprisonment

Suspension of license and registration until proof of insurance is provided and $350 fee is paid

Wisconsin

Up to $500

N/A

N/A

Wyoming

$250–$750

Up to six months imprisonment

N/A

 

This table is intended to provide a general idea of penalties for driving without insurance by state. Check with your local DMV to be certain, as state laws are always subject to change.

In addition to the legal penalties you will face, you can be sued in civil court for damages and medical expenses if you cause an accident and do not have car insurance.

Even if you aren’t at fault for an accident, you will be punished for not carrying insurance. If you get insurance after an accident, even on the same day, it won't count at the time of the accident.

If the other driver causes the accident and you don’t have insurance, you can’t collect damages in states with “no pay no play” policies. States with such policies include:

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Michigan
  • New Jersey
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon

You’ll also be unable to file a third-party claim in a “no-fault” insurance state. In such states, you make claims through your own insurance no matter who caused the crash. If you don’t have insurance, you won’t be able to fix your car or pay your medical bills. The no-fault states are:

  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Pennsylvania
  • Utah

So, can you get insurance after an accident? You can get car insurance after an accident, but it’s a lot better to buy it before an accident to avoid fines, imprisonment, and a potentially massive civil lawsuit.

 


 

How Much Do Insurance Rates Go Up After An Accident?

Depending on your driver profile and what you pay now, your rates could increase by 50 percent or more after an accident. Different companies raise rates in different amounts, but you should expect your bill to increase.

How do you get insurance after an accident? In most situations, you can shop normally from standard providers. Some providers may decline to renew your coverage because you’ve filed too many claims. Just because your car insurance got canceled does not mean you can’t purchase insurance somewhere else.

Auto insurance providers will increase rates for drivers they deem to be high-risk. An accident, or multiple accidents on your driving record, will make insurers think you are more likely to file a claim.

How To Lower Your Rates After An Accident

Some insurance providers offer accident forgiveness policies or other discounts that can lower premiums after an accident. Most providers will lower your rates if you complete a defensive driving class. Carriers are required to reduce your rates for completing a defensive driving class in California, Colorado, New York, Pennsylvania, and other states.

Even if not required, providers may still lower your insurance premiums for taking a defensive driving class. Check with your insurance agent.

If your auto insurance provider raises your rates after an accident, you may consider switching providers. Your new provider will see the accident on your driver report and factor that into your average rates. However, other providers may calculate your driver discounts differently. Shop around and compare insurance quotes to decide for yourself.

Another option is to stick with your current provider but switch to a plan with a higher deductible.

 


 

Our Recommendations For High-Risk Car Insurance

If you’ve been in an auto accident and your rates have changed, it’s a good time to compare quotes. Some providers may offer you lower premiums. Find out by using our quote comparison tool or by calling (844) 246-8209.

 

Described below are our favorite providers that have excellent discount options, especially for high-risk auto insurance.

Best High-Risk Auto Insurance Providers Motor1 Rating Financial Strength Claims Satisfaction

Usage-based policies

 Accident forgiveness

New car replacement

1. Progressive Auto Insurance

4.5

A+

856 / 1,000

2. Geico Auto Insurance

4.5

A++

871 / 1,000

 

3. USAA Auto Insurance

5.0

A++

890 / 1,000

4. The General Insurance

3.5

A

N/A

     
5. State Farm Auto Insurance

4.5

A++

881 / 1,000

 

The financial strength is based on the AM Best Financial Strength Rating, while the claims satisfaction is based on J.D. Power's 2020 U.S. Auto Claims Satisfaction StudySM.

Progressive Insurance logo

Progressive: Best For High-Risk Drivers

Progressive car insurance offers many good discount options for high-risk drivers. Our Progressive insurance review found that it is usually more affordable for drivers with a DUI or DWI on record than other auto insurance companies.

Progressive also has an accident forgiveness program. In states where it is available, Progressive’s loyalty program forgives small accidents (less than $500) automatically. If you are a Progressive customer for five years and maintain clean records, you will be forgiven for one accident over $500.

Progressive discount options include the Snapshot safe driving app and a deductible savings bank. You can also save money by bundling your car insurance policy with another one of Progressive's insurance products, such as home insurance. 

 


 

FAQ About Insurance After An Accident

Can I get insurance the same day as an accident?

You can buy insurance any time that you want. However, you cannot buy insurance that will cover an accident that happened before the time of purchase.

How long after buying insurance can I file a claim?

You can file an auto insurance claim as soon as your insurance is issued. Some other types of insurance policies, such as life insurance, may only activate a set amount of time after purchase. This would be indicated in your insurance contract.

How can I lower my insurance after an accident?

Lowering your insurance after an accident may be different depending on your provider. Some providers offer accident forgiveness and will not raise your car insurance rates in the first place. In many cases, you can lower your insurance by completing a defensive driving course. You can also try switching to an auto insurance policy with a higher deductible or change providers altogether.

By how much does car insurance go up after an accident?

How much your insurance will rise after an accident depends on your provider, your policy, your state, and the amount of damage caused by the accident. Some providers offer accident forgiveness for at-fault accidents, and your rates will not increase at all.

If you are not at fault, your insurer likely won’t raise your rates either. If you are the at-fault driver, expect your rates to rise anywhere from 15 to 50 percent.

 


 

Methodology

In an effort to provide accurate and unbiased information to consumers, our expert review team collects data from dozens of auto insurance providers to formulate rankings of the best insurers. Companies receive a score in each of the following categories, as well as an overall weighted score out of 5.0 stars.

  • Industry Standing: Insurers with strong financial ratings and customer-first business practices receive the highest scores in this category.
  • Availability: We consider availability by state as well as exclusions for specific groups of drivers.
  • Coverage: This rating is based on types of insurance available, maximum coverage limits, and add-on policies.
  • Cost and Discounts: Our research team reviews sample quotes for a variety of drivers in every state. Companies with lower prices and many car insurance discount opportunities receive the best scores.
  • Customer Service: We comb through customer reviews and consumer feedback studies from experts like J.D. Power.
  • Technology: Auto insurers with mobile apps, advanced online services and telematics are more likely to meet consumer needs.

 

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