UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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Car insurance rates almost always increase after an at-fault accident. Fortunately, you don’t have to pay higher car insurance rates forever. Eventually, even the worst at-fault accidents will disappear from your record.
Today, we’re explaining everything you need to know about waiting for an accident to disappear from your record.
Typically, an Accident Stays on Your Record for 3 to 7 Years
Different car insurance companies calculate premiums in different ways. Some car insurance companies dig deep into your past to calculate insurance rates. Car insurance companies in some states are forbidden from using certain data to calculate car insurance rates.
Generally speaking, however, all car insurance companies in all states will ignore accidents after a 3 to 7 year period.
If your car insurance company is more lenient towards unsafe drivers, then your company might ignore your at-fault accident after just three years. If your car insurance company promotes safe driving habits, however, then you might have to wait seven years for an accident to disappear from your record.
The Severity of your Accident Plays a Role
In most cases, an at-fault fender bender won’t cause the same rate increase as a multi-vehicle drunk driving collision where you were at fault. The insurance company will take the severity of the incident into consideration.
A more severe accident or incident will stay on your record for a longer period of time. A DUI, for example, might not disappear from your record for 5 to 7 years.
A less severe accident – like a fender-bender in a parking lot – might not cause your rates to increase at all, even if you were at-fault.
Some auto insurance policies include accident forgiveness. If your car insurance company offers accident forgiveness, then you might not pay higher premiums after a single at-fault incident whatsoever. The car insurance company ignores your first at-fault collision.
How Do I Remove a Car Accident from My Insurance History?
Maybe you have one at-fault accident on your record. Maybe you have several.
Whatever the situation may be, you want the accident removed from your record as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, there’s no magic trick here: there’s no real way to remove a car accident from your record for insurance purposes.
The only “trick” is to wait.
Keep in mind that the impact of your at-fault accident also declines over time. Your car insurance prices might double in the first year after getting your DUI, for example. By year three, however, your premiums are only 30% higher than normal. By the time year seven rolls around, you’re only paying 5% or 10% more for car insurance. Technically, your DUI or at-fault accident is still on your record, but the impact is minimal.
You Might Lose your Safe Driver Discount
Many car insurance companies offer a safe driving discount. For every year you go without making a claim, for example, you get 5% off of your car insurance premiums.
If you get into an accident, then you will lose your safe driving discount. This can cause car insurance rates to rise until you build up that discount once again.
This can be shocking to drivers who have car insurance with accident forgiveness. Yes, the car insurance company technically ignores your first accident, but you still lose your safe driving discount – so rates increase for a multi-year period regardless.
Double Check your Driving Record to Ensure It’s Accurate
If you feel your car insurance prices are unusually high, then consider asking for a copy of your driving record. There may be errors on it.
You can request your driving record from any local DMV. It’s similar to a credit report: many experts recommend reviewing your driver record annually to ensure everything is accurate.
It’s possible an error was made and you have two accidents on your record when you should only have one.
Compare Car Insurance Prices After an Accident
Consider comparing car insurance quotes online after your accident. There’s never a better time to shop around for car insurance than after an accident.
Some car insurance companies are particularly harsh towards drivers who have a single accident on their record.
You might have been with your car insurance company for 10 years. However, if they sharply raised your rates after an accident and those rates are expected to stay high for 3 to 7 years, then consider shopping around for a new provider. Some car insurance companies will ignore accidents after 3 years, while others will wait as long as 7 years.
Conclusion: Expect to Pay Higher Car Insurance Prices for 3 to 7 Years After an Accident
Generally speaking, a car accident will raise your insurance prices for a 3 to 7 year period. More serious car accidents will raise rates for a long period of time, while less severe accidents are more likely to be ignored after three years.
As long as you avoid another accident, and you build up your safe driving discount, your car insurance prices should return to normal after a 3 to 7 year period.