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How Long Does An Accident Stay On Your Insurance?

By Teri Dormer

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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. You may be wondering how long does an accident stay on your insurance and what kind of insurance surcharge can you expect when you’re responsible for a collision on the road?

Here’s the long and the short of it. 

How Long Does an Accident Stay On Your Record?

A typical accident will stay on your driving record for 3 years, and a more severe accident, including hit-and-runs or DUIs, will stay on your record for 10 years. 

When it comes to your driving record, it doesn’t matter if an accident is technically recorded as being your fault or not. 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.

The finer details of your accident history may vary based on the state you live in. Many states, including California, use a points-based system to track collisions and driving offenses. 

How Accident History Impacts Insurance Rates 

Whether or not getting into an accident will trigger an insurance surcharge or rate increase depends on 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.

In some cases, accident forgiveness can only be used once over a set period of time (or for the life of the policy). So if you’re involved in another accident, it may not be able to help you. 

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 percent or more after filing an accident claim.

If you’ve been involved in a severe accident or multiple accidents in a short period of time, your insurance provider may refuse to renew your policy.

Avoiding an Insurance Surcharge 

Accidents happen, which is why they’re called “accidents” in the first place. The best way to avoid an insurance surcharge or an increase in your rates is to be as careful as possible when you’re behind the wheel of the car.

Many accidents are caused by avoidable distractions, and the final cost can be exponential.

As a precautionary measure, you may want to inquire whether or not accident forgiveness is available through your insurance provider. After all, if it helps you avoid a major hike in your premium prices, you’ll thank yourself later.

Get a Quote Compare multiple policies to get the coverage you need at the price you want.


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