Those moments right after a car accident deliver some of the worst stress imaginable. You’re figuring out if anyone is hurt and how bad your car’s been damaged. And before too long you’re asking yourself this stomach-churning question:
“How much will my insurance go up after an accident?”
There are many factors at play: Who was at fault, how serious the injuries and damage, your driving record, what state you live in, and the policies of your chosen insurance company.
Understanding these factors and digging into the forces controlling car insurance rates can help you pursue the best options possible.
Why Do Rates Go Up After an Accident?
Auto insurance is a highly competitive business, and that competition plays a role in keeping rates low. But that also means that when an accident happens there can be quite a jump.
When you’ve had a car accident and you are at fault, your insurer now assumes you drive in a way that could cause an accident. That may sound unfair, but they are assuming a higher risk, and that is passed on to you in the form of a higher rate.
If you are found not at fault in the accident, your insurance rate may go up by a small percentage. California and Oklahoma are two states, however, that mandate insurance companies cannot raise insurance rates after an accident where the driver was not at fault.
This is yet another reason why it’s important to go over the policies carefully when making your choice. It’s smart to compare the rates among top insurers and even look at how much insurance increases after an accident with various insurers.
There is one bright spot in the insurance landscape when dealing with an accident. If your insurer offers and you elect to pay for accident forgiveness, your insurance rate will not go up after your first at-fault accident. Driving record and driving experience requirements must be met before this benefit is available.
Recommended: Auto Insurance Terms, Explained
Average Rate Increases by State
Experts say that after an at-fault accident, yes, your car insurance is likely to go up, with the average amount ranging between 38% and 53%.
In 19 states, average rates increased at least 50% after an at-fault accident, according to NerdWallet.
How much insurance goes up after an accident, on average, is dependent on the state in which you’re insured.
Average Car Insurance Rate Increase After an At-Fault Accident
|State||Average Rate Increase (%)|
|District of Columbia||36|
How Do I Keep My Rates Low After an Accident?
If you’ve had a car accident, there are some things you may be able to do to keep your car insurance rates from rising.
First, explore discounts that you may have overlooked. Check with your insurer to make sure you’re receiving discounts you’re eligible for.
• If you haven’t already signed up for paperless billing, now might be a good time to take advantage of the discount you may receive with this option.
• The number of miles you drive annually is one factor that goes into calculating your insurance rate. Check with your insurer to make sure your rate correctly reflects your annual mileage.
• Consider a usage-based insurance that tracks different elements of your driving habits and sets your rate accordingly. Better driving habits equate to lower rates.
• Ask about multi-policy discounts if you have all your policies with one insurer.
• Check into military and government employee discounts.
Another tactic that might be worth pursuing if you’ve had an accident but are looking for ways to decrease your car insurance rate is to increase your deductible. The higher your deductible, the lower your premium.
Look into how much insurance you’re carrying on the car. It’s worth your time to determine how much coverage you need. If your car is worth less than the deductible plus your annual total for car insurance, it could be time to rethink your coverage.
And another thing to scrutinize is what kind of car you drive. Some cars are cheaper to insure than others.
When Does Car Insurance Go Down After an Accident?
Experts say it takes three to five years for car insurance to go down following most at-fault accidents. The insurers are going by the statistical wisdom that if you’re in one accident, the chances are higher that you will be in another. Some insurers also take into account the seriousness of the accident and whether impaired driving was a factor in the accident.
One tactic people employ to lower their rates is to shop around for a new insurer. While the record of the accident and claim will be visible to a second insurer, you may still be able to get better deals.
Your insurance rates will also be affected by your credit. Merely being involved in an accident will not damage your credit, but an improvement in your credit score can be used as leverage in getting a lower premium.
Don’t rule out getting a brushup on your driving to improve those skills. Some insurance companies will discount your rates if you complete a defensive driving or driver education course.
The question of how much does car insurance go up after an accident has an answer that can seem hard to figure out. The average rate increase ranges between 38% and 53%, and any potential increase may be dependent on a variety of factors including who was at fault, the seriousness of the accident, your driving record, and to a surprising degree, which state you live in.
Taking the opportunity to compare car insurance companies before committing to a policy can be a smart move that might save you money on your insurance rate. SoFi, powered by Gabi, provides a tool to compare car insurance rates from multiple companies so you can get the coverage and rate that works for your needs.
Photo credit: iStock/simpson33
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