Car Accident

How Long Does a Car Accident Stay on Your Insurance Record?

There are a lot of factors that govern insurance rates. They include age, state of residence, and credit history. One of the most important factors that determines the cost of insurance rates is definitely driving history.

A good driving record will lower rates, while a driving record with one or more accidents will raise them significantly. If you have an accident on your record, it will raise your current rates and could even affect your ability to obtain insurance in the future. Do you have to live with this situation forever? Not necessarily. Here’s your guide to driving records with accidents, including how long an accident stays on your record, how it affects your rates, and how different accidents affect your record differently.

How Many Years Will an Accident Remain on Your Record?

This question cannot be answered simply. The number of years an insurance company will look back varies by company and state, but it will usually fall between three and seven years. Three years is the minimum that all companies will look at, but some will be more diligent and dig back either five or seven years. Realistically, you should expect your accident to be visible for up to seven years.

How Do Accidents Affect Insurance Rates and Premiums?

For the most part, an accident shows an insurance company that you are at a higher risk for future accidents than someone with a clear driving record. From their perspective, this means that they’ll likely need to pay out claims at some point in the future.

As a result, some companies will increase premiums to make up for these future claims. However, other companies may not increase your premiums based off of a single accident. It really depends on the insurance company. One accident may not doom you, but multiple accidents will raise your rates significantly – sometimes even doubling or tripling your rates.

How Do Different Kinds of Accidents Affect Insurance Records?

Not all accidents are treated the same. Insurance companies don’t usually dismiss your application based on an accident; rather, they assign points to your accidents based on severity and whether you were at fault. This helps them determine your rate increase, or whether to raise your rates at all.

For instance, one of the most severe types of accidents is the ones that involve driving under the influence. Even a DUI-related ticket without an accompanying accident will drive your insurance rates sky high. On the other hand, an accident in which you were not at fault and damage to the vehicle was minimal may not cause any increase in rates at all with some companies.

Is it Possible to Hide Past Accidents from My Insurance Company?

Insurance companies are very resourceful, so it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to successfully fool them into thinking that your driving history is clean if you have, in fact, had an accident in the past. This is one of the methods they have to calculate car insurance costs. They look up your history and use a cost calculator to figure out how risky you are as a driver. It’s best to be upfront if you were involved in an accident because they will most likely find out about it anyway if it was a major collision.

Summary

Having an accident on your driving record can increase your insurance premiums and qualify you for higher rates when you apply for new insurance. An accident will stay on your insurance record for anywhere between three and seven years.

Different kinds of accidents will be seen differently, though. Minor no-fault accidents may not even result in a premium increase. But even if you have a severe accident that is raising your rates, there are things you can do to keep your rates manageable, including:

  • Raising deductibles on comprehensive coverage, which will help to offset high premiums
  • Obtaining a multi-policy discount by switching over your coverage for homeowners or renters insurance
  • Obtaining extra discounts by insuring a motorcycle, boat, RV, or other vehicle
  • Improve your driving habits to prevent future accidents

These tips will help you lower your rates, so your accident doesn’t end up costing you too much money.