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- If you're at fault for an accident, your car insurance premiums may increase.
- Even if you aren't at fault, if you have a history of accidents you may have an increase.
- Most accidents will stay on your driving record for an average of three years.
The point of auto insurance is to have protection in case an accident happens. Unfortunately, with most insurance companies, having an accident on your record can increase your insurance premiums. Much depends on the state you live in and whether you were "at fault."
How long does a car accident affect my insurance rates?
Felipe Teixeira, director of national auto product at COUNTRY Financial, told Insider that generally filing a claim for an accident when you're "at fault" is recognition that you are a riskier driver. He said a premium increase is data-backed and the amount of increase varies based on driver behavior.
Teixeira said much depends on the insurance carrier and your driving history.
Liability car insurance is required by law. There are four categories of state car liability insurance, according to the Insurance Information Institute: no-fault, choice no-fault, tort liability, and add-on. The big differences are restrictions on the right to sue and which insurer pays for first-party benefits regardless of fault, the Institute said.
There are 12 "no-fault" states and Puerto Rico meaning "every driver [has] to file a claim with their own insurance company after an accident, regardless of who was at fault" according to the Insurance Information Institute. They are: Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania,Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Utah.
New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky have a "choice" no-fault law where drivers can reject the lawsuit threshold and keep the right to sue for auto injuries.
If you were not at fault, will your rates increase?
Teixeira said if you were involved in a minor fender bender, chances are your rates won't increase. However, if you were not at fault, but have been in a bunch of accidents, it depends and varies by carrier.
He said that your indication of risk to come will be a factor and you may be charged a higher premium, even if you were not at fault. Your state laws will also play a role, as some states have laws against increasing premiums for drivers who are not at fault.
If your car insurance company offers accident forgiveness, it may help you out. However, most require that you have been accident-free for at least five years to be eligible for accident forgiveness.
How long will accidents impact my driving record?
Every state handles this differently, but typically three years is the average time an accident stays on your driving record. For example, the New York DMVkeeps "accidents and most traffic convictions are only displayed until the end of the year in which the accident or conviction occurred, plus 3 additional years." However, "vehicular homicide, may be displayed permanently."
However, you should check with your local department of motor vehicles (DMV), because some states have longer times on your driving record if the accident was due to driving under the influence (DUI/DWI), while others don't.Ronda LeeRonda Lee was formerly an associate editor for insurance at Personal Finance Insider covering life, auto, homeowners, and renters insurance for consumers. Before joining Business Insider, she was a contributing writer at HuffPost with featured articles in politics, education, style, black voices, and entrepreneurship. She was also a freelance writer for PolicyGenius. She worked as an attorney practicing insurance defense and commercial litigation.Read more Read lessMore on Car InsuranceWhat is comprehensive car insurance?Minimum car insurance requirements by stateHow does an accident impact car insurance rates?What is collision car insurance?What is liability car insurance?How insurance can help if you have a car break-in
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