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Any driver needs an auto insurance policy that will protect them in the event of an accident. However, If they’re in an accident, there’s a good chance the price of their policy will increase. The question is, “how much does insurance go up after an accident?” The answer depends on where a driver lives and the insurance company they work with. Here, we take a dive into auto insurance to get a picture of what happens to the price of a policy following an accident.

How much does insurance go up after you’re at fault in an accident?

How much more a motorist will pay for auto insurance if they’re at fault in an accident depends on a number of issues, including the state they live in and which auto insurance company they use.

How much rates go up after an accident, by state

The amount rates can go up depends on the specifics of an accident. But the following table shows how much rates increase — on average — after an at-fault accident. These averages, compiled by Quadrant Information Services, refer to a policy with:

  • $100,000 in bodily injury per person
  • $300,000 bodily injury per accident
  • $100,000 coverage for property damage

We’ve rounded for simplicity.

District of Columbia36%
North Carolina63%
North Dakota28%
New Hampshire34%
New Jersey65%
New Mexico34%
New York26%
Rhode Island48%
South Carolina39%
South Dakota36%
West Virginia44%

Data source: Quadrant Information Services and Forbes.

Here’s what these rate increases could mean for someone’s everyday budget. Let’s say a driver lives in Arkansas and currently pays $1,200 per year for coverage ($100 per month). If they were the at-fault driver in an accident their premium could go up by 50%. So, instead of paying $1,200 per year for coverage, they would pay $1,800 ($150 per month).

Do insurance rates go up after a no-fault accident?

Typically, no, insurance rates won’t increase following a no-fault accident. The insurance company of the at-fault driver is responsible for all expenses, from vehicle repairs to medical costs. As long as an insurer does not have to pay out any money, it won’t increase the policy rate.

How long do accidents stay on insurance record?

The answer to the question “how long does an accident stay on your record?” is three to five years. That said, drivers should do everything within their power to avoid traffic tickets and additional accidents for six years. If a policyholder is involved in another incident within that time frame, their insurance rates are likely to skyrocket.

Should I file a claim after an accident?

It depends on what specifically happens. Let’s say a driver lives in California. They slide off the road in a rainstorm, hit a neighbor’s mailbox, and dent the front bumper of their car. Now they need to decide if they should file a claim. They were definitely at fault, but there are a couple of things to consider. The first is that filing a claim means the accident (no matter how small) will remain on their insurance record for three to five years.

In addition, because they live in California, their insurance premium may increase by 74%. Say they’re currently paying $1,200 per year for coverage. That means it will jump to $2,088 per year (or $174 per month). Multiply that $888 increase by three years (the minimum amount of time the accident will remain on their record). That’s a total of $2,664 ($888 x 3 = $2,664). Can they repair the mailbox and car for less than that amount? If so, the driver is better off taking care of it out of pocket.

Another thing to consider is their car insurance deductible. Say they have a $1,500 deductible. If they can get repairs for around that price, it makes little sense to file a claim.

Important note:

Any time a driver is in an accident and isn’t sure who’s at fault, they should call the police. If they’re in an accident and it appears the other party is at fault, the police should still be called, even if the other party asks them not to. Insurance companies will want a police report, and it can help bolster the no-fault driver’s side of the story if the other driver decides to change their account of events.

What is accident forgiveness?

Accident forgiveness is a type of auto insurance that can stop a driver’s rates from going up after an accident. Depending on the insurer, accident forgiveness may be awarded after a period of safe driving, or a driver may pay extra to add it to their policy. If a driver has accident forgiveness, their policy may not go up after their first at-fault accident.

Some of of the big-name companies currently offering accident forgiveness are:

  • State Farm
  • USAA
  • Geico
  • Progressive
  • Liberty Mutual

How to lower insurance costs after an accident

If a driver is in an accident and was at fault, it’s a safe bet that their policy rate will increase. If that’s the case, all is not lost. Here are five possible ways to decrease the price:

1. Rate shop

There’s no reason not to shop around with other insurers after an increase in premium. In fact, it’s smart for drivers to shop around once a year anyway, just to make sure they have the most complete coverage for the price. Depending on the severity of the accident, the policyholder may find themselves shopping for high-risk car insurance. No insurer is going to ignore an at-fault accident, but some will charge less for the premium than others.

2. Increase your deductible

If a motorist currently has a low deductible, they should be able to lower the price of their policy by increasing the deductible. Before doing so, drivers should work their budget to make sure they have enough in emergency savings to cover the deductible if another accident occurs.

3. Search for missed discounts

It’s possible to miss a discount when signing up for auto insurance. Or someone’s situation could change in a way that makes them eligible for a discount. Here are some of the most common auto insurance discounts offered:

  • College student, away from home
  • Good student
  • Low mileage
  • Senior
  • Military
  • Professional
  • Policy bundling

4. Raise your credit score

Many insurance companies factor in credit score when determining policy rate. If your score was low when you first took out your policy, you can take steps to raise it. Once your credit score has improved, you can request a rate review from your insurer.

5. Take a driver’s education course

Taking a defensive driving course or accident prevention course can cut a driver’s premium. The amount varies by insurer, but it’s a discount worth learning more about.

The average driver has a lot on their plate. Worrying about what will happen to their auto insurance rate in the event of an accident should not be one of them. If you’re concerned about being hit with an insurance increase following an accident, the first step is to contact your auto insurance company to learn whether it offers accident forgiveness coverage, and how much it will cost. You may also want to ask things like:

  • How long do accidents stay on insurance?
  • How much can I save by bundling auto with home and life insurance coverage?
  • Can I lower my rates by raising my credit score?
  • Do speeding tickets affect insurance? If so, by how much?
  • How often will you recalculate my rate?

The first, most important, step is to have insurance coverage. The next step is to make sure that coverage fits the level of risks you are comfortable assuming. If you haven’t compared prices from more than one insurance carrier recently, you may be pleasantly surprised by your options.