Accidents can stay on your record for up to five years, and you might pay higher rates for car insurance that entire time.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to lower rising auto insurance rates after an accident. We’ll tell you about them in this article, which also covers:

When does a car accident cause your insurance to go up?

Getting into an accident often leads to higher car insurance premiums. Whether that’s true for you depends on details like:

  • If you're not at fault for the accident, your rates may not go up. But that's not always the case. Many drivers find their auto insurance rates increase after accidents they didn’t cause, too.
  • Minor fender benders are less likely to prompt a rate hike than more severe crashes.
  • If your insurance policy includes accident forgiveness, it's like a “get out of jail free” card. However, you can only use it once.
  • If it's your first accident, or your only accident in at least six years, you might avoid a rate increase.
  • Even if your car insurance rates don't go up after an accident, you might lose your good driver discount.

Keep in mind that your driving history isn’t the only thing that determines what you pay for car insurance. Several factors play a role in the pricing of your policy, including your:

  • Age.
  • Car make and model.
  • Gender.
  • Location.

While other factors impact your premium, too, these are the most important. Insurance companies use them to assess your risk level. Why? High-risk drivers are more likely to cause accidents or get citations. In the eyes of an insurer, that means they're more likely to file claims.

Depending on your age, your insurer might already consider you a higher risk. Teens pay the highest car insurance rates in the country, followed by seniors. Teens or seniors who cause minor accidents rarely get a break from their insurers.

How long does an accident stay on my insurance record?

A car accident usually stays on your insurance record for three to five years. Because of this, an accident may impact your car insurance premium for three to five years as well.

Also, if you’re involved in an accident, you'll want to avoid getting into another one for six years. If you rack up any additional accidents, citations or tickets during that six-year period, your insurance rates might rise considerably.

How can I get a car accident off my insurance?

The only way to get an accident off your record is to wait. A car accident will hurt your insurance rates for three to five years. During that time, it's vital that you avoid tickets or additional accidents.

Some insurance companies will raise your rates by a set amount for the entire three- to five-year period. Other companies will raise your rates and then gradually decrease them over three to five years.

Even though a car accident only raises your rates for three to five years, you're in a probationary period for as long as six years. If you cause an accident or get a ticket within six years after your last accident, you face an even steeper rate increase.

You can contact your local DMV and ask for a copy of your driving record while you wait. It's sort of like your credit report, and you should review it annually. Make sure everything is accurate. Look for erroneous citations or accidents, in particular. If you find any, contact the DMV and your insurer to reassess your record.

How much will my rates go up after an accident?

It's hard to say how much your car insurance will go up after an accident. An accident doesn't guarantee a rate increase. But if you're at fault, or if you file a claim, or if you have prior infractions on your record, you should expect a premium hike.

How much your rates increase depends on several factors. They include your age, your driving record, where you live, your insurance provider and more. Some reports suggest that a single claim can raise your rates by as much as 40%, even if you're not at fault. Either way, insurance rates are calculated on a case-by-case basis.

How can I lower my car insurance rates after an accident?

The best way to keep your rates low is to avoid accidents entirely. Of course, that's not always possible. Accidents are, after all, accidental. But there are steps you can take to soften the blow of higher insurance rates after an accident.

Check for discounts

Insurance companies offer a plethora of discounts, but they aren't always obvious. You can score a lower rate for getting good grades, driving less, installing safety features and more. Read your policy or contact your insurance company to see if you're missing out on any savings.

Bundle your insurance policies

If you buy your car and home insurance from one company, you may qualify for a bundle discount. Bundling is an easy way to instantly shave 20% off your insurance premium.

Shop around and compare quotes

Every insurance company is different. They each use their own algorithms to assess drivers and price policies. You might find that one company charges a considerably different price for an identical plan than another company. If your rates go up after an accident, it's a great time to shop around and compare quotes from other companies.

Save on car insurance after an accident by comparing rates.

Avoid claims

Insurance companies are never thrilled when you file a claim. It costs them money. If you file too many claims, or if you file a claim shortly after getting tickets or accidents, you might face a rate hike. Keep this from happening by paying for minor accidents out of pocket.

Reassess coverage and rates

When was the last time you assessed your coverage levels? Many drivers pay for coverage they don't need. Caveat: this doesn't mean you should purchase minimum coverage. You might benefit from raising your deductible or dropping comprehensive coverage, though. Consider eliminating any add-ons like roadside assistance or rental reimbursement, too.

Will my car insurance go up if the accident wasn’t my fault?

Yes, your car insurance may go up after an accident even if another driver caused the crash. Any time you file a claim, there's a chance your rates will rise.

A study by the Consumer Federation of America found that most drivers involved in not-at-fault accidents saw their car insurance rates increase. Premiums jumped by 8% to 12%. There are exceptions, as some states forbid rate increases in this situation. But facing a rate hike after getting rear ended, for example, does happen.

How much will my insurance go up if I’m in multiple accidents?

If you're involved in multiple accidents, your insurance company might consider you a high-risk driver. High-risk drivers pay high car insurance rates. That is, if they can get a policy at all. Many insurers refuse to cover high-risk drivers because of the liability. Companies that offer high-risk auto insurance charge drivers a premium to do so.

On top of expensive insurance, high-risk drivers face license suspension. If that happens to you, you may need an SR-22. What's an SR-22? It's a form that proves you have liability insurance. Some states make you get at least a minimum amount of liability coverage and then file an SR-22 before they’ll let you back on the road.

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