How Long Does an Accident Affect Your Insurance Rates?

Amy Beardsley
Written by
Amy Beardsley
Photo of an Insurify author
Written by
Amy Beardsley
Insurance Writer
Amy is a personal finance and technology writer. With a background in the legal field and a bachelor's degree from Ferris State University, she has a talent for transforming complex topics into content that’s easy to understand. Connect with Amy on LinkedIn.
Jackie Cohen
Edited by
Jackie Cohen
Photo of an Insurify author
Edited by
Jackie Cohen
Editorial Manager
Jackie Cohen is an editorial manager at Insurify specializing in property & casualty insurance educational content. She has years of experience analyzing insurance trends and helping consumers better understand their insurance coverage to make informed decisions about their finances.Jackie's work has been cited in USA Today, The Balance, and The Washington Times.

Updated June 15, 2022

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Why you can trust Insurify

Insurify is America's highest-rated insurance comparison platform. We partner with the nation's top insurance companies and are licensed as an agent in all 50 states. However, the insurance experts writing our content operate independently of our partners, and you can learn more about how we make money by viewing our advertising disclosures. Also check out reviews from over 3,000 satisfied customers, our data methodology, and our editorial standards.

Your driving record can be a mysterious thing. What exactly is on there—and how long does it stick around? The good news: you probably don’t need to stress about that car accident you were in more than five years ago, even if you were at fault.

Regardless of your driving history, it’s always a good idea to compare quotes so you can save money on your auto insurance coverage. Use Insurify to compare the cheapest car insurance quotes from national providers like Progressive and GEICO along with local providers so you can quickly find the best deal for auto insurance rates.

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Quick Facts

  • A driver with an accident on their record will pay an average of $32 more per month for car insurance than a driver with a clean record.

  • The cheapest insurer we found for drivers with an accident on their record is Metromile, with average premiums of $112 per month.

  • If you maintain a clean driving record after your first accident, you will likely see your premiums decrease after just a few years.

Cheapest Car Insurance Companies for Drivers with Past Accidents

How long does an accident stay on your record?

Drivers can expect an accident to stay on their driving record for at least three years. However, the length of time an accident will affect insurance premiums depends on the severity of the accident and whether or not the driver has a history of car accidents.

You can’t change your past driving record, but you can change how much you pay for car insurance. Below are cheapest insurance companies for drivers with past accidents on their driving record, drawn from Insurify’s proprietary database of millions of driver quotes.

Insurance CompanyMonthly Quote for Drivers with Past Accidents
Metromile$112
Amigo USA$121
Farmers$145
Clearcover$152
Travelers$179
National General$195
Elephant$198
AssuranceAmerica$206
Nationwide$211
Kemper$267
Liberty Mutual$271
Bristol West$275
Dairyland$286
The General$344
Infinity$402
Disclaimer: actual quotes may vary based on the policyholder's unique driver profile.

See More: Best Car Insurance Companies

What happens to my insurance after an accident?

Unlike some types of records, car accidents and other motor vehicle-related incidents don’t automatically disappear from your driving record after a set length of time. Instead, different factors can be responsible for determining how long an accident stays on your record.

You already know that car insurance companies look at your driving record when offering you a quote or even when they reevaluate your insurance rates. Typically, you can expect that an accident on your record—whether or not you were at fault—will affect your rates for at least three years.

This higher premium will be the result of what’s called a surcharge. Over those three years or so, your rates will spike and then steadily decline. But if you’ve had a streak of accidents, be prepared for those rate changes to last even longer than that.

After a major accident, regardless of whose fault it was, it’s a good idea to do your best to avoid additional accidents or citations for at least six years. This reduces the risk of an additional rate increase and improves the odds of that accident being erased after the default three years.

Curious about how a new auto insurance policy will reflect your bad driving record? Use Insurify to get free customized insurance quotes and get the cheapest rate based on your personal driving history.

See More: Car Insurance Quotes

Comparing Auto Insurance Rates by Accident History

A prior accident tends to have a negative impact on your car insurance premiums. Check out the table below comparing average monthly premiums for drivers with a prior accident compared to those without for typical minimum liability and full-coverage car insurance policies.

Prior accident?Average Monthly RateCoverage Type
Yes$206Minimum Liability Coverage
No$158Minimum Liability Coverage
Yes$302Full-Coverage
No$285Full-Coverage
Disclaimer: actual quotes may vary based on the policyholder's unique driver profile.

Need an idea of how quotes change with an accident in your driving history? The quotes listed below correspond to a driver having a clean driving record, an at-fault accident from six months ago on their record, and an at-fault accident from four years ago on their record.

CompanyMonthly Quote Without AccidentMonthly Quote with At-Fault Accident(6 months ago)Monthly Quote with At-Fault Accident(4 years ago)
Bristol West$92$126$95
Infinity$124$161$124
Kemper$129$176$156
Elephant$137$187$145
Mercury$140$229$163
Commonwealth Casualty$161$190$161
Nationwide$191$298$229
The General$342$487$342
Disclaimer: actual quotes may vary based on the policyholder's unique driver profile.

It’s ideal to have a clean driving record. But auto accidents happen, even to safe drivers. Surcharges will cause this driver’s auto rates to spike. However over time, auto premiums will decrease back to near their original levels. In two more years, the driver’s accident will be more or less scrubbed from her record.

While major accidents do typically affect your insurance premiums—at least temporarily—minor accidents that can be resolved without filing a claim won’t. Insurance companies only know about the accidents eported to them. If you’re involved in a minor fender-bender and are able to resolve it on your own without your insurance company, you’ll avoid seeing a premium increase.

See More: Cheap Car Insurance

How much will my car insurance rates go up?

Again, it depends. Insurance companies don’t have a straightforward method for calculating rate increases. Instead, factors like your age, your existing driving record, credit score, and even where you live can all play a role. As a general rule, experienced drivers with a relatively clean record will see less of a rate increase than a younger driver with a few citations.

You can see this reflected in many insurance companies’ good driver discounts. Other car insurance companies offer accident forgiveness for customers who have a demonstrated history of good driving. With accident forgiveness, the insurance company essentially doesn’t count the accident when calculating your premium. Usually, this policy only applies to your first accident.

The severity of the accident also plays a role, too. A minor no-fault accident that doesn’t result in any injuries is unlikely to result in a sky-high rate hike. On the other hand, a major accident with injuries or property damage or an at-fault accident such as a hit-and-run is far more likely to affect your premiums.

See More: Best and Worst Sites to Compare Car Insurance

It Pays to Play it Safe

Insurance companies often classify drivers as “high-risk” if they have a DUI or multiple citations or accidents on their record. Adjusting your habits to ensure you drive defensively and safely can give you big benefits when your monthly bill rolls around.

Although it may be difficult to determine how exactly an accident will affect your monthly premiums, the best defense is a good offense. If your driving history is less than stellar, it’s never too late to start improving it. If you have a longstanding history of good driving habits, keep it up! Whether you realize it or not, it’s saving you a bit of money every month.

Insurify lets you compare auto insurance quotes from top insurance providers across the nation with ease, no matter your driving record or financial situation. Insurance costs don’t have to be debilitating. Build your ideal policy and secure a cheaper quote today!

Frequently Asked Questions

  • While accidents and traffic violations such as speeding tickets will usually raise your insurance rates, comparing personalized quotes from multiple auto insurance companies will help you find the best insurance premium. You can also always save by bundling your car insurance with your renters or home insurance.

  • Although it may be difficult to determine exactly how long an accident will stay on your insurance record and affect your auto insurance premiums, it’s important to try and maintain a clean driving record following an accident. If you have only one accident in your driving history, your rates will go down.

  • If you are involved in a minor fender-bender that you are able to financially resolve on your own, you do not have to file a claim with your insurance company. However, it’s important to note that minor accidents with no injuries or significant property damage may only raise your rates slightly and won’t break the bank.

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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.

Amy Beardsley
Written by
Amy Beardsley
Linkedin

Insurance Writer

Amy is a personal finance and technology writer. With a background in the legal field and a bachelor's degree from Ferris State University, she has a talent for transforming complex topics into content that’s easy to understand. Connect with Amy on LinkedIn.

Learn More
Jackie Cohen
Edited by
Jackie Cohen
Linkedin

Editorial Manager

Photo of an Insurify author
Edited by
Jackie Cohen
Editorial Manager
Jackie Cohen is an editorial manager at Insurify specializing in property & casualty insurance educational content. She has years of experience analyzing insurance trends and helping consumers better understand their insurance coverage to make informed decisions about their finances.Jackie's work has been cited in USA Today, The Balance, and The Washington Times.