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Edited by Jackie Cohen
Updated September 15, 2022
Accident forgiveness is an advantageous insurance product that many auto insurance companies offer their customers. But some programs are a better deal than others. In this article, we will break down the basics of accident forgiveness, how much you can expect to pay, and how to know if accident forgiveness is the right choice for you.
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Drivers who buy car insurance with accident forgiveness can save up to 63% on their insurance premiums in the event of an accident.
Accident forgiveness will typically only apply to your first car accident – any further accidents on your record will cause your insurance premiums to increase.
You cannot qualify for accident forgiveness if you are classified as a high-risk driver.
How Much You Can Save with Accident Forgiveness
What is accident forgiveness insurance?
Accident forgiveness coverage is an insurance add-on to your personal insurance policy that ensures your car insurance rates will stay the same in the event of your first accident. Drivers can buy accident forgiveness for a small added cost to their monthly premium.
To understand how much you can save (or not) with accident forgiveness, you should understand how much an accident costs. Below is a table showing the cost of an accident for Hannah, a single, 39-year-old female living in San Antonio, Texas. She drives a 2007 Ford Escape and carries state-minimum insurance.
|Company||Monthly Quote Before Accident||Monthly Quote After Accident||Additional Cost Per Year|
As exemplified in the quotes above, having blemishes on your driving record can really hike up your monthly car insurance rates. As you can see, even on a modestly priced auto insurance policy, an accident increased Hannah’s costs by $144 to $468 a year. If she was penalized for three years, the total cost of her accident would fall between $432 and $1,404.
Given the expected cost of an at-fault accident and subtracting what the program would cost, Hannah would likely save $200 or more by purchasing accident forgiveness.
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What is accident forgiveness?
Accident forgiveness coverage is an insurance add-on that guarantees your auto insurance rates will stay the same in the event of your first accident. Policyholders can purchase accident forgiveness for a small addition to their monthly premium. At most companies, purchasing accident forgiveness means you can retain the good driver discount even after an accident.
How does accident forgiveness work?
How accident forgiveness works largely depends on the car insurance company offering the program and the state in which you drive. Typically, with this program, you purchase an accident forgiveness rider. If you get into a car accident while you carry this rider, you won’t see your insurance costs increase afterward.
Insurance companies have different rules regarding which accidents count and how many years between accidents you need to qualify. Some insurance companies offer free accident forgiveness after a certain number of years.
How do you qualify for accident forgiveness?
To start, you can’t be a high-risk driver. With most insurers, you must remain accident-free for five years to qualify for accident forgiveness. Each company will have its own set of requirements for drivers who can purchase accident forgiveness. And your state may also have specific rules regarding how insurance companies offer accident forgiveness to policyholders.
We should also note: at-fault accidents caused by driving under the influence are deemed “on purpose” and void accident forgiveness at most companies.
Is accident forgiveness necessary?
No, accident forgiveness is not necessary, but it may be worth it to you (more on how to tell below). Think of it as a bet: you’re betting that you’ll get into one accident, so you’re willing to pay extra to insure your rates don’t go up. Your insurance company is betting that you won’t get into an accident and taking a little extra in car insurance premiums to hedge that bet.
How long does accident forgiveness last?
It depends on the company. On average, insurance companies offer you one accident every three to five years. Some providers have shorter or longer windows of time. And some providers offer more generous policies, where they’ll forgive multiple incidents over a set number of years.
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Cost of Accident Forgiveness
You should expect accident forgiveness to add between two and nine percent to your premiums. So, if you pay $160 a month for car insurance, accident forgiveness will cost between $3.20 and $14.40 a month, or $38.40 and $172.80 a year.
But costs differ across the industry. Some companies offer accident forgiveness for free after a certain number of years. Costs also vary from state to state. You should speak with your insurance agent if you are unclear as to how much your accident forgiveness program costs you.
Is accident forgiveness worth it?
Maybe. The truth is, accident forgiveness is a gamble. It is worth it if you get into an accident. Looking back at our example, if accident forgiveness cost Hannah 5 percent on her premiums, she’d pay $132 to $264 for accident forgiveness over a five-year span. If she got into an accident over that five-year span, she’d save herself between $168 and $1,272.
If she doesn’t get into an accident, she loses the cost of her additional premiums. But the loss on premiums is far less than what she’d lose by getting into an at-fault accident. When deciding if accident forgiveness is right for you, ask yourself which bet you’re willing to make. And don’t forget that it may be worth the peace of mind to carry accident forgiveness.
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Companies That Offer Accident Forgiveness
Accident forgiveness has been around for years. Some companies offer a more advantageous accident forgiveness program than others, either offering it for less or on more favorable terms to policyholders.
Bear in mind that accident forgiveness is not available in all states. In California, accident forgiveness is illegal. And in Massachusetts, accident forgiveness has special exclusions and stipulations.
If you purchase the Gold or Platinum “Your Choice Auto” package from Allstate, you’ll get accident forgiveness. With the Gold plan, you get one accident forgiven every three years. With the Platinum plan, you’re forgiven for an unlimited number of accidents, plus a diminishing deductible. You must have a clean driving record in order to get accident forgiveness.
You qualify for free accident forgiveness after three years of safe driving as a GEICO policyholder. You can also purchase accident forgiveness insurance if you meet the requirements. You’ll get one accident forgiven every three to five years, depending on your state. And you get to keep your good driver discount despite the accident.
You qualify for accident forgiveness for free with Liberty Mutual when you’re accident-free and moving-violation-free for five years. You get one accident in five years per policy, you get to keep the safe driver discount, and you won’t see a surcharge. Both at-fault and not-at-fault accidents qualify for accident forgiveness.
With Nationwide, you can be forgiven for two minor violations and two at-fault accidents in three years. You’ll also be granted unlimited “fender benders”—accidents with claims under $1,500. You need to be a customer for at least six months before you can buy accident forgiveness. There is no surcharge or premium spike, and you’ll retain the good driver discount.
Accident forgiveness is free with State Farm, but you need to have been accident-free for nine years. This is much longer than the average, and forgiveness is limited to one accident per policy, even on ones with more than one driver. But customers do get to keep their good driver discount and don’t see a rate increase or surcharge.
To get accident forgiveness with Travelers, you must purchase a Responsible Driver or Premium Responsible Driver plan. Eligibility for these plans depends on you qualifying as a “safe driver” with no accidents or major violations on your driving record for the last five years. You’ll get an accident or major violation forgiven once every three years.
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Accident forgiveness is a cost-saving perk for car insurance, but it only saves you money in the event of an at-fault accident. That means you’ll need to decide whether having this type of car insurance coverage is worth it to you.
If you decide it’s worth it, you can compare car insurance rates online with the Insurify comparison tool. We use proprietary data and AI technology to get your accurate quotes so you don’t have to call around to each company. It’s the best way to save time and money when shopping for car insurance.
Frequently Asked Questions
That depends. If you get into an accident and you have accident forgiveness, you’ll save money. But if you never get into an accident, accident forgiveness has no financial benefit. A part of the puzzle is also your risk tolerance. You may find peace of mind worth the cost of accident forgiveness.
In the event of an at-fault accident, accident forgiveness would save you hundreds over the few years where you’d typically see a rate increase. Exactly how much you’d save depends on the cost of your car insurance policy.
There are many insurance companies that offer accident forgiveness to their customers. To know which will offer you the lowest rate, you should compare auto insurance quotes from each company. With Insurify, you can compare quotes in just a few minutes without sharing your personal information with each company.
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Data scientists at Insurify analyzed over 40 million auto insurance rates across the United States to compile the car insurance quotes, statistics, and data visualizations displayed on this page. The car insurance data includes coverage analysis and details on drivers' vehicles, driving records, and demographic information. With these insights, Insurify is able to offer drivers insight into how their car insurance premiums are priced by companies.