When Does Car Insurance Start Going Down After Accidents?

Motorists enjoy low premiums until making a claim. Once an at fault collision goes on the record, they lose the good driver discount so they start paying around 50% more for car insurance. And this accident continues to impact premiums for three to five years depending on the company and state. However​, the accident’s influence on rates starts going down as early as the second renewal and becomes less and less every term.

Normally, auto insurers start reducing the accident surcharges after the first full year without any further incident or traffic ticket. The farther you are away from the accident date, you are less affected by the claim. In other words, accidents may affect your premiums up to five years but the effect isn’t linear ​and rather at a descending rate. And some companies may stretch up to five years but many car insurers don’t penalize motorists for incidents further than three years. That is why policyholders should always get alternative quotes to compare prices, especially in the yearly intervals.

Motorists are advised to check how far away they are from the next renewal when ​an accident happens. For example, if you had an accident in May and your policy usually renews in October you are advised to get a few alternative quotes in next May (providing you are accident free until then) and see if ​you can find more lenient companies who won’t penalize ​you as much after the first year. The same applies to three and five years.

In the above example, it may pay not to wait for the October renewal but shop around in May when you complete the first or third accident-free year. Usually, motorists can switch their auto insurers with no or negligible penalties in the US and this is a good example of taking advantage of such flexibilities.

An accident must be in driving records to affect vehicle insurance rates. Most states require motorists to report an accident when there are injuries and damages above a certain monetary amount like $1,000. Then, they go into your driving records and can be seen by companies offering quotes or coverage. Also, auto insurers report the accidents when their policyholders make a claim in relation to it.

Automobile insurance rates may be influenced more in states like California and Massachusetts where credit check isn’t allowed and therefore premium calculations are more heavily based on accident and driving records. On the other hand, claim related surcharges may be relatively low in states like Maryland, West Virginia, Mississippi and North Dakota. Furthermore, states like New York may have a higher loss threshold for companies to apply surcharges for claims and some states like New York, Ohio and Arizona may only allow surcharges if the driver is at fault. Again, how long an accident or ticket remains on the records depend on the state.

Also, some companies​ like Progressive​ don’t increase vehicle insurance rates for smaller claims like under $1,000 and some states may have laws preventing companies increasing premiums for lesser damages but costs may go up when there are injuries and driver negligence in the accident, even if they resulted in smaller losses.

But, having Accident Forgiveness auto insurance coverage would prevent rate increases after the first at fault incident but cannot help after the second crash. It often makes sense to add Accident Forgiveness coverage to your policy if you qualify for it and after an accident comes ​off your records so that you don’t pay high rates again for one unfortunate incident or bad judgement.

It is understandable that providers would increase vehicle insurance rates after​ at​ fault collisions because they end up paying for people’s mistakes. The final claim payment may be small but there are administration and adjustor costs to add to it too. In addition, drivers who caused recent accidents are statistically more likely to cause another incident in a short space of time. Besides, penalizing the drivers who cause damages and injuries and rewarding good drivers with discounts encourage motorists to improve.

How much and how long an accident impacts automobile insurance depends on a number of factors like state rules, who was at fault and whether there was​ a​ traffic violation and its seriousness. You could see the renewal premium go up between 40 – 80% if you were at fault and the damages and injury costs were well over $2,000. If you are a young driver with limited experience and history​,​ the rate increase would be maximum​,​ while it may still be manageable for an experienced person with previously clean records.

Claims tend to affect car insurance rates in cases in which the provider ends up paying for the damages, even if it isn’t the policyholder’s fault. However, claims made on third party insurers shouldn’t affect premiums. In addition, even if you made a claim on your own policy, you shouldn’t face a surcharge when your insurer recovers the costs from the at fault driver’s carrier at the end.

Severity of the collision and fault of the driver matters. Companies commonly check police reports and other records and increase auto insurance premiums more when there are serious injuries and large damages after an accident and when the insured driver was negligent and issued a citation for the incident.

In the same way, things like DUI charges after traffic incidents stay on records much longer and affect car insurance premiums more and longer. Usually, a DUI stays on record for seven years in most states​,​ all the while affecting premiums and reducing the number of companies willing to take a chance with the motorist.

In conclusion, motorists normally see the highest premium increase just after the incident. Then, they should see vehicle insurance come down from next year, providing there are no more incidents. It will probably continue its downward movement at each consequent renewal. They will finally see most of the savings they enjoyed before back by the end of the third year with most insurers.

So, motorists will get decent discounts with 3 years no claim or traffic ticket, as both usually fall off the record after this period. Most auto insurance companies look back three years of driving records when they calculate quotes. That is why people should always shop around instead of ​submitting to high premiums regardless of the circumstances.