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How Long Does An Accident Stay On Your Insurance?

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  • How Long Does An Accident Stay On Your Insurance?

Getting behind the wheel of your car has probably become second nature by now. For many of us, driving is a primary transportation method that helps us get from one place to another, day in and day out. 

But no matter how comfortable you are on the road, the simple truth is that driving can be a very dangerous activity. Accidents can happen in the blink of an eye, no matter how many years of driving experience you have or how careful you are. 

Whether or not you’re at fault, your accident history can follow you around longer than you realize. But, exactly how long does a car accident stay on your record? And how will it affect your auto insurance?

How Long Does an Accident Stay On Your Insurance Record?

You can expect an at-fault accident to affect your insurance for three to five years. Generally, the more severe the infraction, the longer it’s on your record. For instance, a serious offense like a hit-and-run or DUI could stay on your record for at least 10 years.

This may be how long it stays on your driving record, too, but it varies by state. It’s important to distinguish between your driving record and your insurance record.

Accidents on Your Insurance

This timeframe of effect is where your driving record and your insurance record differ. Even if you live in a state where points, accidents, or citations never fall off your record, like Montana, insurance companies don’t hold them against you forever. If you’ve demonstrated safe driving in recent years, insurers won’t concern themselves with mistakes you may have made behind the wheel decades ago.

When getting a car insurance quote, providers will almost always ask about recent tickets or accidents, and the cutoff is usually in the past five years.

When it comes to your driving record, it doesn’t matter if an accident is technically your fault or not, as it’ll be recorded on your motor vehicle report regardless. But, it matters to your insurer. Of course, if another driver hits you, insurance companies will have access to this information to differentiate between an accident you may have caused and one you were simply involved in. 

If you’re issued a traffic ticket or a citation after being involved in a driving accident, this information will appear on your accident history as well. Just like the record of the accident, the average traffic citation will stay with you for three years before falling off. Again, the finer details of your accident history vary based on the state you live in, and insurers typically don’t worry about them beyond three to five years. 

Accidents on Your Record

Your driving record, officially called a motor vehicle report, is held and managed by your state. This is where all your driving infractions are recorded, like accidents, tickets and other citations. Each state has its own way of managing driver records.

Most states use a point system to keep track of driving mistakes. Some states hold onto points, which result in fines and possible license suspension, longer than others. Even if these points stay on your record for longer than five years, insurance companies don’t usually consider them after that point unless it was a very serious offense.

How Much Will Your Insurance Go Up After an Accident?

Depending on where you live, how bad the accident was, and how long you’ve been with your insurance provider, you might experience a rate increase of 50% or more after filing an accident claim. Increases anywhere between 10% and 80% are possible.

Usually, an at-fault accident will increase your rate more than a non-at-fault one. This is because at-fault accidents result in insurance claims against your provider. The more claims you file, the bigger risk you are to the insurance company. Thus, they will charge you more money to protect you.

If you live in a no-fault insurance state (Florida, Hawaii, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and Utah), your rate will probably go up either way since you typically always file a claim with your provider after a crash in no-fault states.

Also, insurance companies tend to consider single-car accidents you’re involved in as at-fault accidents. For instance, if you swerve off the road into a tree or light post, even though no one else is involved, you’ll still likely be at fault in the eyes of insurers.

Some providers won’t increase rates after just one accident, though. If you’ve been a loyal customer without any claims for a long time, a company may not raise rates after a minor collision. But, if you start racking up accidents and claims in a short time, expect an increase in premiums or your company to not renew your policy.

If your insurance provider offers accident forgiveness (which sometimes costs extra each month), your insurance rates may not change after you have an accident, either. In some cases, accident forgiveness can only be used once over a set period (or for the life of the policy). So if you’re involved in another accident, it may not be able to help you. 

In some cases after a crash, the cost of your coverage may get raised, but you could lose your safe driver or accident forgiveness discount. So, you’ll still end up paying more for coverage as a result as long as accidents are on your insurance.

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The editorial content on Clovered’s website is meant to be informational material and should not be considered legal advice.