You have several responsibilities as a driver, including driving safely and carrying auto insurance. Car insurance can help protect you and others in a collision.
Accidents can result in many unfavorable changes, including a change in car insurance rates. The exact increase depends on your driving record, the accident’s severity, and whether or not you were at fault. If you were not at fault for your collision, a qualified attorney can help keep your rates from increasing, among other things.
Continue reading to learn more about car insurance, how an accident can affect what you pay for coverage, and how long these price increases last. To discuss your options following a crash, speak with a car accident attorney near you immediately.
The Purpose of Car Insurance
While you may know you have to carry car insurance under the law, you may not know why.
A driver may cause a crash. If you suffered an injury in a collision, the at-fault driver is responsible for covering your expenses, including those associated with medical needs and property damage.
Expenses resulting from a car crash can be thousands and thousands of dollars. Most individuals do not have that kind of money to pay the victim they’ve caused harm to. Therefore, car insurance can cover these costs.
An injured person can recover compensation from the insurance company of the financially liable person. When you pay for car insurance, you’re paying for the protection that comes with your policy.
Car insurance isn’t useful until it is. Many don’t see the importance of carrying protection, but insurance can become a lifeline in the event of a collision.
Is Car Insurance Required?
Almost every state mandates car insurance. Minimum coverage and type of protection vary by state, so carry at least the minimum protection to avoid potential trouble.
Depending on your state’s laws, consequences for driving without auto insurance can include fines, suspension, and points on your license.
Not only are the penalties challenging enough, but driving without insurance can mean financial strain for drivers who cause accidents. Driving without insurance is never a good idea from a legal and financial standpoint.
Why Do Car Insurance Rates Go Up After an Accident?
Insurance companies increase premiums after an accident to protect themselves.
Even though price increases feel like punishment, they’re not. Increases often stem from statistics. Data shows that after one accident, you’re more likely to be in subsequent collisions in the future. Therefore, insurers increase their rates to reflect the higher risk.
Simply put, accidents cost insurance companies money. For this reason, they adjust their premiums to cover the risk of protecting you.
Car Insurance Rate Increases After an Accident – What You Could Expect
Car insurance premiums are highly individualized. What you pay for auto insurance is based on age, location, type of vehicle insured, and driving record, to name a few. Therefore, increases in car insurance rates after an accident vary greatly.
Unfortunately, statistics for auto insurance increases are not favorable, specifically for at-fault drivers. Car insurance rates can increase up to 51 percent a year when a driver causes a collision.
Additionally, research for insurance rates across the U.S. shows:
- On average, a driver that causes an accident pays about $832 more a year than a driver with no accidents or violations
- In certain states, including Florida and California, rates went up more than $1,200 per year after a crash
- Average auto insurance rates increased by at least 50 percent in 18 states following an at-fault collision
Determining how much you can expect your car insurance to increase after an accident is difficult, as many details affect rates. Discuss this with your insurance company and, if necessary, shop around with other insurers.
No-Fault vs. Fault: How They Affect Insurance Differently
It’s normal to wonder whether the fault affects insurance rate increases. In most cases, they are.
When a driver is at-fault for an accident, their insurance rates are more likely to increase. As previously mentioned, causing an accident can make the insurance company feel their insured driver is more of a risk on the roads, causing them to increase their premiums accordingly.
In some states, however, rate increases are based on the value of the damage caused. If damage in an accident is under a specific dollar amount, the insurer may not raise rates much, if at all.
While insurance rates can still increase if you’re not at fault for your accident, you can prevent this change. A car accident lawyer can help prove the other party’s fault, which can stop changes in your auto insurance premiums. This is only one of the many ways a skilled attorney can benefit you after an accident.
Do Insurance Rate Increases Depend on the Severity of the Accident?
Certain factors help determine how much of a premium increase, if any, a driver faces after a traffic accident. Along with fault and the driver’s driving record, the severity of the injury plays a part.
An accident with minor damage and injuries does not cost the same as one involving more extensive damage and bodily harm. Therefore, insurance rates for a fender bender won’t usually increase as much as those involving totaled vehicles and severe injury.
How Long Does a Car Accident Stay on a Driver’s Record?
A person’s insurance rates are highly dependent on their driving record. Several things impact a person’s driving record, including traffic citations and collisions.
The amount of time something remains on your driving record depends on your state and the type of collision or violation. For example, in California, accidents generally stay on a person’s driving record for three years, absent specific circumstances, which can keep it on the record for ten years.
There is a difference, however, between how long something stays on your record and how long insurance companies use this information to calculate premiums. For the most part, insurers won’t consider accidents on your record past three to five years, regardless of how long it remains on your record.
In short, no matter how long your state keeps the accident on your driving record, auto insurance companies only really use this information for a few years after the fact to calculate your rates.
“Accident Forgiveness” – What it Could Mean for Insurance Rates
In recent years, some car insurance companies have developed accident forgiveness programs. Under these programs, car insurance rates don’t go up after a collision, even if a driver is at fault. However, most drivers need to qualify for this type of rate increase protection.
For example, Progressive is a well-known insurance company offering its insured driver’s accident forgiveness. In a minor accident, rates won’t increase if the claim is $500 or less. Minor accident forgiveness is available in most states when a driver purchases a policy.
Large accident forgiveness is available for free in most states, so long as a driver has been a customer for five years but also accident and violation-free for five years.
Every insurance company is different and offers various protection. It can be challenging to get this type of protection; therefore, it is not available to all drivers.
When Do Car Insurance Rates Go Down After an Accident?
The good news: car insurance rates do eventually go down. However, when and how much they decrease depends on the circumstances.
Generally, you can expect to pay higher rates three to five years after an accident. That’s not always the case, though. Depending on the severity of your accident and your record, you may not have to wait that long for your rates to drop.
Alternatively, a driver may need to pay higher rates for longer than three to five years. This typically happens if, after one accident, the driver causes one or more accidents within those three to five years. Insurance premiums may stay high for much longer if that’s the case.
Talking with your specific auto insurer can help you better understand their policies.
Are There Ways to Lower Insurance Rates After a Crash?
If you’re involved in an accident, that accident will follow you, no matter your auto insurance.
Still, certain tactics may decrease your insurance premiums, including:
- Shopping around with different car insurance companies
- Increasing your deductible
- Looking for discounts, like a good student and multi-car discounts
- Updating and adjusting your coverage choices
- Getting a different car
Doing some homework and making some changes can save some money on auto insurance while still protecting you.
A Car Accident Lawyer Can Help Your Insurance Rates Low
A car accident can affect your life in several ways, including your physical and mental well-being and monetary circumstances. If you were not at fault for your accident, you shouldn’t have to bear the following financial burdens, which can include auto insurance increases.
Proving fault after an accident is necessary to pursue compensation for your losses and can also help prevent car insurance rates from increasing. After a collision, speak with an experienced car accident lawyer. An attorney can provide much-needed legal guidance and representation and actively work to protect your rights and financial future.
Never accept a rate increase in your insurance when you were not to blame for a crash. Seek help from a personal injury lawyer who can prove liability for your accident. This not only can provide compensation for all your losses, but also protect your insurance rates to assist your financial future.