If you have been in a car accident recently, you can usually expect your auto insurance rates to increase. This is common regardless of whether you caused the accident or not. However, if the accident was not your fault, you may not see the increase.
If you’re wondering how long a car accident will stay on your insurance record, it depends on where you live, but insurance companies typically keep accidents on your driving record for three to five years.
Let’s take a closer look at how accidents can affect your auto insurance rates, whether you need to report every accident, and how you can lower your premiums.
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How did your insurance company know about a car accident?
Most insurance companies will check your Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) if you want to start or renew your policy. Your MVR, also known as your driving record, often shows traffic violations, license suspensions, arrests, and more. Your driving record will also show information about any car accidents you have been involved in that have been reported to the police.
A variety of different parties can access the MVR, including law enforcement agencies and certain employers. Your insurance company and its agents may also have access to your driving record for underwriting purposes, which is the general process by which insurance companies determine your rates and whether to approve you for coverage.
What if I don’t report the accident?
In some cases, you may be involved in a minor accident but do not feel the need to report it to the police. This usually occurs when the suspected loss is below a certain amount, such as less than $1,000 or $2,500.
If the accident was never reported to the police, it may not show up on your driving record. But the guidelines on whether you have to report an accident by law depend on where you live, so be sure to check your state’s laws.
You can also report an accident to your insurance company without filing a police report. In this case, other insurance companies may be able to see the accident through a database called LexisNexis CLUE Auto.
LexisNexis CLUE Auto is an auto insurance claims history database shared by 99% of insurance companies offering auto insurance. Many insurance companies will check your driving record and LexisNexis to get a more complete picture of your driving and claims history.
If you do not report the accident to the police or your insurance company, there is likely no official record of the accident. You might do this in specific situations, such as if you caused property damage by hitting your garage door while driving your own vehicle. There are no other parties involved, and no disputes about completing repairs, it’s something you can handle yourself.
But also remember that the legality of reporting an accident depends on where you live and the circumstances of the accident. It is generally best to report most car accidents, especially if another party is involved.
How long do accidents stay on your driving record?
It depends on where you live, but the average amount of time a car accident stays on your driving record is three to five years.
Technically, an accident can stay on your record for more than five years, but insurance companies usually don’t take these accidents into account when determining your rates and whether to cover you.
Here are a few examples of how long accidents are kept on your records in different states:
stateYears of accidents stay on your recordsArizonacaliforniaFloridaGeorgiaTexas
Your driving record will also show citations or traffic violations, which may be related to the crash, which can also affect your auto insurance rates.
Many states use a point system to deal with traffic violations. Accumulate too many points and you may have to take a driver safety course, or even lose your license.
Do Insurance Rates Go Up After a Car Accident?
Your auto insurance rates often go up after an accident, especially if you caused the accident and filed a claim with the insurance company. This is usually because the accident will show up on your driving record and may indicate to insurance companies that you are more likely to be involved in an accident than someone without a driving record.
It depends on the severity of the accident and your auto insurance company, but you could see your rates go up by 20% to 50% or more. This means that if you pay about $1,200 a year, you could end up paying about $1,440 to $1,800 a year or more after an accident.
Here are several types of accidents and claims that can increase your auto insurance rates:
Negligent accident: Causing an accident virtually guarantees that your interest rate will go up.
No-fault accident: Being involved in an accident will generally increase your rates, but the premium increase may not be as great as being involved in a no-fault accident.
Different types of claims: Generally speaking, filing a claim will increase your rate. This includes liability, collision and combined claims.
What if the car accident wasn’t your fault?
Even if the accident wasn’t your fault, your auto insurance premiums could still go up. It doesn’t make a lot of sense because you’re not wrong, but your interest rate will probably go up anyway. However, the rate of increase may not be as high as if you caused an accident.
The laws on how to handle negligence and no-fault accident claims depend on where you live. But any kind of accident can increase your auto insurance rates.
Do you have to report a car accident to your insurance company?
Most auto insurance companies expect you to report any accidents you are involved in. That doesn’t mean you have to file a claim for every accident, especially if it’s a minor accident or little damage or injury.
But reporting the accident to your insurance company keeps a record of what happened. So if someone tries to sue you for an accident, you have a clue to what happened and a record of what happened.
You will generally need to report any accident to your insurance company if something happens that may require your coverage. It could mean that you have a slight fender bend with another car, or that you ran into someone’s mailbox. Even if you’re not planning to file a claim, your insurance company wants to know about it.
Remember, you don’t always have to report car accidents to local law enforcement, as this depends on where you live and the circumstances of each accident. Here are the laws in Arizona, Florida and Georgia regarding reporting car accidents to the police:
Arizona: You must report all car accidents if they cause any injury, death or damage.
Florida: You must report a car accident if it involves any injuries or estimated damages of at least $500.
Georgia: You must report a car accident if it involves any injuries or estimated damages of at least $500.
What is accident forgiveness?
Accident forgiveness is a common auto insurance benefit that usually prevents your rates from increasing after a first no-fault car accident. You may have to pay for this benefit, or your insurance company may include it for free.
The exact terms of accident forgiveness vary by insurance company. Here’s how it works with several major insurance companies:
insurance companyAccident Forgiveness BenefitgekkoLiberty Mutualprogress
How to Lower Your Insurance Rates After an Accident
You can help lower your insurance rates after an accident by qualifying for a discount or checking your driving record for errors.
qualify for a discount
You already know that a clean driving record can help lower your auto insurance rates, but other non-driving record discounts can help too. Here are some examples of discounts that can help keep rates down:
Multiple policies: Two or more policies with the same insurance company. Also known as bundling.
Multiple vehicles: Have two or more vehicles on your auto insurance policy.
good student: Add a full-time student in good standing, usually with a “B” average or better, to your policy.
army: Be an active duty military member or have a qualifying military affiliation.
Owner: Own a home even if it’s not insured with your auto insurance company.
check your driving record
Your motor vehicle record contains a list of accidents, citations, arrests, and other items that could affect your auto insurance rates. It’s worth checking your MVR to see if there are any errors, which could negatively affect the amount of car insurance you pay.
For example, you may have a reference on your MVR that you are clearing and should not exist. Fixing this error, or others, usually requires contacting your local DMV office or your insurance company.
How long do you keep your Georgia car accident record?
Car accidents typically affect your insurance for three to five years, but in Georgia, driving offense points stay on your record for two years. Driving violations may include aggressive driving or speeding. If you accumulate 15 points or more within 24 months, your license will be suspended. Points drop after two years.
How long do you keep your Florida car accident record?
Generally, a car accident can affect your insurance rates for three to five years. If you are convicted of a driving offense in Florida, points are usually added to your driver’s license and remain on your driving record for at least five years. Accumulating points within a certain period of time may result in license suspension.
How long do you keep your Arizona car accident record?
A car accident typically affects your auto insurance premiums for about three to five years, but any traffic violation conviction in Arizona can be permanently recorded on your driving record. If you earn too many points for traffic violations over a period of time, your driver’s license may be suspended, or you may have to take driving lessons.
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the bottom line
So how long does a car accident stay on your insurance record? For many insurers, the general rule of thumb is three to five years. That’s a range, so it might be worth checking with your insurance company to see exactly what time is right for you.
This can help you see when you can save money because accidents are no longer considered.
For more possible savings, check out our page on the best auto insurance to see what policies are available in your area.
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How long will this article car accident stay on your insurance record? Originally appeared on FinanceBuzz.