Will my car insurance rate increase after an accident?

Last updated: January 1

After a car accident, you may wonder if filing an insurance claim will result in a higher premium. The short answer is, not necessarily. Whether your insurance rate increases after an accident may depend on a number of factors.

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What factors can impact my premium after a claim?

Your driving record and whether you are found at fault for the accident are some factors that may impact your premium after a car insurance claim. Here's a closer look at some things your insurer may consider after you file a car insurance claim.

The severity and cost of the claim

No two claims are alike. For instance, there's a difference between a minor fender bender and an accident in which a vehicle is totaled. The cost and severity of a claim are key factors when it comes to whether your insurance premium may increase.

Your driving record

Auto insurers typically consider your driving record when calculating the cost of your car insurance policy. Drivers who are considered higher risk based on their driving history may be charged a higher premium, the Insurance Information Institute (III) says. Even if you've been considered a safe driver in the past, your insurer may re-evaluate your driving record and decide to raise your premium if new claims indicate you've become a riskier driver. However, filing a claim doesn't mean your insurance premium will automatically increase.

Which driver is at fault

Whether your insurance rate increases after an accident may depend in part on whether you are found at fault. When you file a car insurance claim, an adjuster is assigned to your case. The adjuster's job is to assess damage. Your insurance company may also review the police report, interview those who were involved in the crash and look at photos of the damage. The adjuster works with the insurer to determine who's responsible for the accident. In some cases, multiple drivers may be found at fault.

Will my rate go up after a no-fault accident?

Some states require — or offer as an option — no-fault insurance. No fault-insurance coverage helps pay for your and your passengers' medical bills if you're involved in an injury-related accident, no matter who is at fault. Your insurer may take the amount it pays toward these expenses into account when determining whether your rate will change after you file a claim.

How long do accidents stay on insurance?

If your insurer raises your premium after an at-fault accident, your rate may remain increased for an average of three years, the III says. In some cases, a surcharge after an accident may gradually decrease each year you don't have another accident. Some insurers offer a discount for a safe driving record, and that discount may also be removed after an accident. The amount of time an accident affects your insurance can vary by insurer and by state, so it's a good idea to check with your agent to learn how an accident claim may affect your premium.

What is accident forgiveness?

Some insurers offer accident forgiveness programs. If you have this type of protection on your car insurance policy, your insurance rate typically won't increase after an accident, even if you are found at fault. Read your car insurance policy to learn whether it includes accident forgiveness.