Everyone needs to be forgiven from time to time, but how much should you pay for it?
It may sound too good to be true, but many insurance companies offer accident forgiveness to eligible drivers. That’s one less headache involved in the aftermath of a collision. However, as good as it might sound, accident forgiveness is not necessarily the best choice for every driver. For a select group, it may not be worth the extra cost.
This article will define accident forgiveness and outline the considerations you should make when deciding to add it to your auto insurance policy.
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What is Accident Forgiveness?
Accident forgiveness is usually an add-on to an insurance policy that prohibits a rate increase in case of an accident. There can be restrictions to its use. This add-on is usually reserved for safe drivers. For example, an insurance company may require that you have no moving violations in the last three years.
Additionally, most insurance companies require your participation in a special program or that you purchase accident forgiveness in addition to your regular policy. This will increase the cost of your policy overall.
How much does an accident cost?
While results will vary by state and driver, the typical rate increase after an accident is over $500. Additionally, your rate increase can hang around for years, typically at least three to five years. That can add up to thousands over time.
Consider how this Insurify user’s rates would change after an at-fault accident. Here is the Insurify quote list for the following driver profile: a single, 39-year-old female living in San Antonio, Texas; driving a 2007 Ford Escape; having a clean driving record; opting for state minimum coverage.
Now, here are those same quotes compared to those she’d see on Insurify if, all else remaining equal, she also had one at-fault accident from six months ago on her record. Insurance providers will now consider her a higher risk.
In this example alone, the insurance providers would quote this user an insurance rate anywhere from 3 percent lower (although this is an online-only offer exclusive to Insurify) to 63 percent higher than if she did not have the accident six months ago. Two insurance companies, Dairyland and Nationwide, would not quote this driver because of the one at-fault accident.
Some insurance companies will lower premiums more quickly for drivers who maintain a clean record. Other driver discounts can also be available for safe driving, like the good-driver discounts offered by any number of top insurance coverage providers. In the aftermath of an accident, be sure to speak with your agent about ways to lower your premium.
Also, be sure to take time to get a quick estimated quote or comparison shop for car insurance quotes after an insurance premium increase. Insurify can help you ensure you have the best car insurance at the lowest insurance rate in only two minutes.
How does Accident Forgiveness work?
First, you need to qualify. Every auto insurance company will do things a little differently. Some will require that you have no accidents in your recent driving history. Others may require that you have paid into the program for at least one year. Excessive moving violations can also make you ineligible.
Red tape aside, most accident forgiveness policies work like this: your insurance company will not raise rates after a first accident. This usually limited to one accident per policy, no matter how many drivers are listed on the policy.
The best way to learn about accident forgiveness specific to your policy is to speak with your insurance agent. They should provide you with all relevant information.
Insurance companies that offer accident forgiveness
- Allstate offers accident forgiveness as an add-on benefit. You will have have the option to enroll, but it will cost extra.
- Amica Mutual allows accident forgiveness for those with a clean driving record and enrollment in the Platinum Choice Auto package.
- Erie Insurance doesn’t charge for accident forgiveness, but you must be insured with Erie for at least three years. Exceptions in New York drivers who can purchase an ERIE Rate Protect policy and North Carolina drivers who are offered this bonus immediately.
- Farmers Insurance will forgive one at-fault accident for every three years you drive accident-free. And that means any accident, even if you’re not at fault.
- Geico also offers accident forgive as an add-on, though not for drivers in California, Connecticut, or Massachusetts.
- Liberty Mutual requires a five-year clean driving history in order to qualify for accident forgiveness. This means no accidents or moving violations allowed. And if you qualify, you will have to pay extra.
- Nationwide will require you to buy this coverage option and will allow one accident forgiveness per policy—no matter how many drivers are on the policy.
- Progressive only offers accident forgiveness through their Loyalty Rewards program. It also has two tiers. With small accident forgiveness, your rate won’t go up for a claim under $500. With large accident forgiveness, you must be a customer for at least five years and have been accident-free (notice it doesn’t specify who’s at fault) for three years in a row.
- State Farm forgives the first accident if you’re a policyholder who has been with the company and maintained an accident-free driving record for at least nine years.
- The Hartford only offers accident forgiveness to those who have purchased the Advantage Plus package.
- Travelers will forgive one accident every 36 months if you pay to be part of their “Responsible Driver Plan.” They also allow “minor violation forgiveness,” which bars increases due to your first minor traffic violation as a customer.
- USAA offers accident forgiveness for free in some states. To qualify, you must be free of any at-fault accidents in the last five years.
Is Accident Forgiveness worth it?
The first thing you must consider is how “at-risk” you are for getting into a car accident. Now, there is no guaranteed behavior that will keep you accident-free. You can’t account for other drivers or dangerous conditions. You are accountable for your own driving habits. The safer your driving habits, the less likely you are to be in an accident.
Considerations for your risk:
- Are you a low-mileage driver? The less you drive your car, the less opportunity you have for getting in an accident.
- Do you live in a heavily populated area? More drivers on the road will mean more congestion and more chances for a collision. If you live in a less populated area, you probably don’t encounter as many drivers.
- What are the road conditions like in your area? If the roads you drive are filled with potholes, blind curves, and wildlife, you’re encountering a more dangerous driving environment.
- What time of the day do you usually drive? Driving at night is usually more dangerous than day-driving. Driving while fatigued, whatever time of day that might be for you can also increase chances of an accident. The same goes for rush hour and sunset.
- Do you engage in any risky driving behaviors? Talking or texting on your cellphone can increase the likelihood of a collision. According to a 2005 study, talking on your cellphone increases risks two to four times. And a study conducted by Oregon State University found that taking your eyes off the road for two seconds or longer can increase the risk of an accident four to 24 times. Speeding, frequent lane changes, and aggressive driving can also increase your risk.
- Have you recently added a teen driver to your plan? If your insurance company allows for it, you may be able to extend accident forgiveness to your children. Seeing as the risk of an accident is highest for teen drivers, this could be the right time to add accident forgiveness to your plan.
Consider the impact of an increase in your premium. More than the initial cost, this also includes the cost over the years an accident will affect your premium. If the increase will make a big difference to your budget, and you identified with being at a higher risk of getting in an accident, you should consider adding accident forgiveness. However, if you are a low-risk driver who has the funds to cover a future increase, you can lean towards not paying for accident forgiveness.
Consider how much more you will pay for accident forgiveness. Long story short, don’t pay for accident forgiveness if its cost is more than the cost of an accident. For example, if accident forgiveness isn’t free with your car insurance company, you’ll need to calculate its cost. For example, if you pay $158 extra every year to ensure you have accident forgiveness, and you do not have an accident after seven years, you’ve paid $1,106 for coverage you didn’t need.
However, as we’ve seen, your rates could increase by more than $500 a year after a first accident. Making it easily worth the added cost of accident forgiveness. Bear in mind that if an accident is deemed “on purpose,” often the case in an accident caused by a driver who is under the influence, your accident forgiveness may be voided.
Of course, you may never find yourself in an at-fault accident. The added cost of accident forgiveness is a wasted premium increase. While you may not recover the loss of the added cost, you might consider the worth of peace of mind.
Accident forgiveness offers the most benefit to drivers who are generally good drivers but for whatever reason have an increased likelihood to be involved in a collision. It’s also important to remember that most insurance companies will raise your rates after an accident even if you are not found to be at fault.
On the other hand, if you use your car sparingly and don’t engage in higher-risk driving behaviors, the added cost of accident forgiveness may not be worth the investment.
Interested in comparing car insurance rates from companies that offer accident forgiveness? Check out Insurify today for auto insurance quotes comparison from top-ranked regional and national insurance companies. Unlock insurance discounts and score some savings today!