How Long Does an Accident Stay on Your Record?Posted on Nov 10, 2015
If you have just been in a car accident or ticketed for a traffic violation, you may have heard conflicting information regarding how long the accident or ticket will stay on your record and how it will affect your insurance premium.
The short answer is that the accident or ticket will stay on your record for three years, but the exact punishments you receive for your traffic violation depend on several factors, including:
- Your insurance company
- How long you have been with your provider
- Where you live
- How old you are
- The severity of the accident or violation
- The cost of the damages
Let’s break down what types of accidents and traffic violations do and don’t affect your insurance premiums and for how long.
First Minor Accident or Ticket
Just because you get in a car accident or receive a ticket doesn’t automatically mean your record is tainted. If you drive with expired insurance stickers, speed 10 mph over the limit, or get into a minor fender bender or other not-at-fault accident, it’s unlikely your insurance policy will go up, especially if you have a history of save driving. Many insurance companies reward you with Accident Forgiveness to prevent a premium increase after just one incident, particularly if you have sustained a policy with that provider for a few years and established a clean driving record.
Subsequent Minor Accidents or Tickets
Once you receive multiple violations or become involved in multiple accidents, that’s when you can expect your driving record to become affected. Still, the degree to which it affects you isn’t set in stone. For example, a 17-year-old repeat speeding offender can expect insurance premiums to increase more than a 60-year-old established driver who maintained a clean record for many years.
Even if you’re at fault for a minor accident, your premiums still aren’t guaranteed to go up. In fact, many providers forgive one at-fault accident within a six-year period. It’s when you get into a second or third at-fault accident within that timeframe that you could experience a substantial rise in your insurance premium.
Remember, even if you’re in a single-car accident, your insurance provider considers you at-fault. For example, if you drive your car into a tree and claim collision coverage, the incident goes on your record as an at-fault accident, even though no one else was involved.
When and For How Long Do Rates Increase?
If you get in an accident or receive a ticket for a traffic violation, and your insurance company decides to increase your rate, you’ll find out when it comes time to renew your policy. Your rate could go up anywhere from 3 to 50 percent depending on factors such as fault, severity and cost of the damages. You’ll also lose any safe-driving discount you qualified for prior to the accident, which further increases your premium.
As for the length of time your policy rate stays increased, that depends on the state, insurance company and whether you get into another accident. Many times, increased rates last three years and gradually lower over that time span. As long as you avoid another accident, the rate increase – and the tarnish on your driving record – should be completely gone three years after the incident.
Please remember, the advice here is presented in a broad scope and doesn’t take your individual situation into account. For personalized advice about your car insurance policies and driving record, please consult with a professional. The exact answers you receive could differ from the information given here.
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