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How Long Does an Accident Stay on Your Record?

Getting involved in a car accident is both frustrating and scary at the same time. And if that isn’t enough, the insurance rates can even be raised, and you may have to pay more for your car insurance.

However, the good news is that car accident don’t stay on your driving record forever. Instead, there is a certain time frame based on which you need to pay the increased amount.

So, how long does an accident stay on your record? Let’s know the answer, along with several other related topics, below.

How Long Does an Accident Stay on Your Record?

Normally, the insurance rates increase when a person gets involved in an accident based on their insurance company’s policy.

However, you don’t have to pay these high rates for a lifetime. Completing the required time frame means you will no longer have to pay the raised insurance rates. And thus go back to paying the previous rates.

There is a different time allocated for each accident based on several factors, as shown below. Check out the table to find out which one matches your case:

Accident TypeRecord Duration
First minor accidentFor first-time accidents, most car insurance companies offer accident forgiveness. Consequently, it might not even appear on your record!
Minor accident3 years
Hit-and-run10 years
DUI / DWI10 years

Note: It is a general estimation; thus, this time length may differ from state to state.

What If the Accident Wasn’t My Fault at All?

Sometimes another driver may cause an accident, and you cannot simply do anything about it.

If this tragic thing happens, the chances are high that the accident may still go on your driving record. However, it is expected not to impact your premium insurance.

But, no matter the scenario, it is better that you obtain a copy of the police report at hand. So for any problem, you can show these verification copies to the authority and ensure that you had nothing to do with the accident. Instead, it was the entire fault of the other party.

This one thing is enough to save you from encountering various unnecessary raises to your premium insurance rates. Therefore, try to get one after the accident as soon as possible.

What Will Happen to My Insurance Rates If I Get Into an Accident?

Well, the first thing you should do after meeting an accident is to contact your insurance companies as soon as possible. Also, check whether they offer any first-time accident forgiveness or not.

If they provide forgiveness, it will certainly be good news for you. You will be in the clear and thus will not have to experience any raise in your insurance premium (unless you get into another accident shortly after).

So, make sure to practice safe driving moving forward. Otherwise, be ready to face the penalty you will not want.

But what will happen if there is no accident forgiveness policy on my insurance?

The bad news is that your insurance rates may increase after the accident. Generally, the insurance premium rates are expected to increase to as high as 34% following an accident.

However, the amount depends on your insurance company and your coverage level. Some key factors the companies usually consider while determining these insurance rates include where you are currently living, how severe the incident was, and how many years you have been a customer of this company.

One crucial point to note for severe accidents, like DUIs, hits and runs is that insurance companies may choose not to renew your policy once it expires.

What Factors Influence How Long an Accident Will Stay on Your Record?

Several factors play quite a big role in determining how long the accident will remain on your record and insurance history.

This includes the following:

Who’s at fault?

Faulty considerations usually apply when one or more drivers are involved in an incident. If you are found to be the fault party, then chances are high that it will greatly impact your driving record compared to if you are not at fault.

Whether you are at fault or not, this entire procedure is typically conducted and investigated by the authority in charges, such as the police report, witnesses, or evidence.

Based on these things, a final call will be made regarding who was most responsible for the incident. Common at-fault accidents may include rear-end accidents, single drivers, failure to obey traffic rules and regulations, lane changing, and distracted and impaired driving.

After that, the insurance rates will most likely be raised depending on your partial or full charge.

Any changes in your driving record

Your past driving record plays a great role in influencing how long an accident stays on your record. For instance, if you have a clean driving record with no accidents or claims, you will naturally be less prone to dangers than someone with several past collision records.

Some high-risk driving practices include speeding tickets, not wearing seatbelts/helmets, driving under the influence (DUI), etc. Everything gets listed down on your driver’s licence history when you encounter one.

What is Accident Forgiveness?

Insurance companies use this term. It helps drivers to have a clean driving record. If your coverage policy includes accident forgiveness, your first at-fault accident (within six years at most) will not be counted.

And thus, you will not have to pay extra for the insurance. Instead, you can pay your usual rates.

However, if you get into another at-fault accident within those six years, that second accident will be counted as your first one, following the rest.

Therefore, the best is to practice safe driving under all conditions. Otherwise, be prepared to pay higher insurance rates.

However, if your insurance company policy has no such clauses, you will not be granted one. It’s not something you can merely ask for. So make sure to verify it with the company before buying one.

Some Key Takeaways

  • A minor auto accident stays on your record for three years (on average). It may vary based on the accident’s severity, location, and the number of prior violations as stated on your driving record.
  • Your insurance rates may go up following the accident; it doesn’t matter whether you are at fault or not.
  • In several places, drivers judged to be at fault cannot have their insurance rates raised.
  • If insurance companies offer accident forgiveness, drivers can avoid increases in their premiums.

Closing Notes

That’s all from the discussion regarding “how long does an accident stay on your record?”

Any accident can lead to an increased insurance rate unless your insurance company grants you accident forgiveness. So, before buying car insurance, verify it with your insurance provider to avoid confusion and hassles in the future.

Besides, this rise in the insurance rates is for the time being and gets changed from time to time. Every accident has the potential to cause financial hardship, and that’s just one more compelling argument for always driving cautiously.

Frequently Asked Question

Have a look at the below most asked questions:

What happens if you don’t report an accident to your insurance?

After an accident, you must always inform your insurance company about it – the sooner, the better. In case you fail to notify them or do it too late, chances are high that your insurance company may cancel your policy and even decline to insure you in the future.

What happens in car accidents when a pedestrian is at-fault?

A pedestrian who causes an accident may be penalized or even charged with a crime. The accident’s severity and any injuries incurred will determine the extent of the punishments.

Can the insurance companies raise the rates if I didn’t cause the accident?

Yes, they can do it. Although it may seem totally unfair, it’s the harsh part you cannot do anything about. This depends on your insurance company, as they have the freedom to increase the driver’s rates as they deem fit.

So, clear it out with your insurance company regarding whether they offer accident forgiveness or not.

What happens if an uninsured driver who was not at fault hits you in a car?

If you have collision insurance, you may be eligible for compensation from your insurance provider for the damages incurred.

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