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 has 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.
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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.
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. Here is the average increase by state:
- Alabama 34%
- Alaska 31%
- Arkansas 51%
- Arizona 34%
- California 74%
- Colorado 34%
- Connecticut 47%
- Delaware 28%
- District of Columbia 36%
- Florida 40%
- Georgia 45%
- Hawaii 39%
- Idaho 36%
- Iowa 44%
- Illinois 45%
- Indiana 47%
- Kansas 61%
- Kentucky 65%
- Louisiana 37%
- Maine 47%
- Maryland 45%
- Massachusetts 62%
- Michigan 50%
- Minnesota 36%
- Mississippi 44%
- Missouri 30%
- Montana 43%
- Nebraska 37%
- North Carolina 63%
- North Dakota 28%
- New Hampshire 34%
- New Jersey 65%
- New Mexico 34%
- New York 26%
- Nevada 36%
- Ohio 46%
- Oklahoma 40%
- Oregon 40%
- Pennsylvania 45%
- Rhode Island 48%
- South Carolina 40%
- South Dakota 36%
- Tennessee 38%
- Texas 43%
- Utah 40%
- Vermont 44%
- Virginia 43%
- Washington 38%
- West Virginia 44%
- Wisconsin 44%
- Wyoming 32%
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.
Insurance not available in all states.
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These accident-prone cars are the most expensive to insure
To compare car insurance prices relative to vehicle safety metrics, we collected 2017 fatal crash data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The cars analyzed in this list were limited to small and midsize vehicles for which both fatal crash data and insurance quotes were available. Car insurance costs were normalized relative to manufacturer suggested retail price (MSRP).
Car insurance quotes were for a 30-year-old male sample driver in New Jersey. Unless otherwise noted, our sample driver held full coverage car insurance with the following limits:
|Coverage type||Study limits|
|Bodily liability||$50,000 per person / $100,000 per accident|
|Property damage||$25,000 per accident|
|Uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury||$50,000 per person / $100,000 per accident|
|Comprehensive and collision||$500 deductible|
ValuePenguin’s analysis used insurance rate data from Quadrant Information Services. These rates were publicly sourced from insurer filings and should be used for comparative purposes only — your own quotes may be different.
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