After the vehicle gets fixed and the insurance company settles all claims, many people would like to continue with their business like nothing ever happened. But car accidents don’t just disappear, they end up on your driving record and usually affect how much you pay for car insurance. You might be wondering, how long does an accident stay on your driving record? Most providers use it for some years to determine whether or not they should insure you and it also helps them set your premium.
Additionally, insurers also review your driving history, where you live, and whether you were at fault among other factors to determine your final car insurance premium. If you’ve somehow managed to drive accident-free for quite long, your previous violations may be scraped off and you can start paying for your normal coverage like before.
How Long Does an Accident Stay on Your Driving Record?
An accident can remain on your motor vehicle record for years, even if someone else caused the accident and not you. If you’re the one who’s responsible, any tickets issued appear on this file as well so that everybody can view the history of your driving record. More often than not, accidents and violations stay on your motor vehicle record for about 3-5 years before falling off.
For potential violations, like a DUI or hit-and-run, such offenses can last for about 10 years or even more based on their severity. Also, it’s important to note that the actual length an accident stays on your motor vehicle record varies by company and state in which a person stays. In fact, many countries use a “points” system to fast-track any violations and sometimes you can have your license canceled because of racking up too many points.
For example, in California points for violations, like making an illegal turn or speeding, usually stay on your driving record for about 3 years. More substantial violations, like a DUI or hit-and-run, usually stay on your motor vehicle record for about 13 years. Even if a person is not liable, every accident should be reported right away and should appear on a person’s record if property damage exceeded $1000 or if someone was injured or died, according to the DMV. Make sure you visit your state’s Department of Motor Compare Vehicles website for more details on how different countries deal with violations linked to various accidents.
How Long Does an Accident Affect Your Insurance?
After a violation or accident drops off your DMV record, it doesn’t affect your vehicle’s insurance rates anymore. More often than not, most insurers typically check the past few years of your driving history to determine whether or not they should scrap off your premium increase. Once the reported violations and accidents are dropped from your DMV record, you can start paying for your normal coverage like before without being penalized by insurers.
Most auto insurance companies usually check the past 5 years of your driving record, so if you had a violation or accident like 6 years ago, your rate won’t be affected in any way. For some providers, it could be even a much shorter amount of time, like the past 3 years. Otherwise, if you fear your motor insurance rates could be high as a result of an accident you caused earlier, as long as you maintain a clean record going forward, you should have nothing to worry about. Those high rates will eventually drop before you even know it.
Also, it’s important to note that different countries have different regulations about how they deal with accidents, and how insurers should calculate premiums for certain accidents and violations. Different states also have different laws that govern how far back insurance providers can go in your history to determine whether or not they should drop a premium hike after an accident.
Can Insurance Rates Hike After an Accident?
First, check to see whether your specific coverage provides accident forgiveness for accidents that drivers and motorists cause. Many policies have this option available, although sometimes you have to pay extra to enjoy the benefits of such a policy. Particularly for first-time offenders, they’ll likely be given the option to renew after their very first accident. But if the accident forgiveness option is lacking on their policy, or if they’ve been in more than one accident, then a premium increase should be expected.
Sometimes a person’s rates can rise by around 50% and 100% after an accident. And this depends on a few factors like where a person stays, the severity of the accident, how many claims they’ve filed before, and how long they’ve been with their current insurance company and so on. If the violation is something substantial, like a DUI or somebody had multiple accidents in a short period of time, most insurers might refuse to renew their policy once it expires. Make sure you maintain a clean driving record every time to keep your insurance rates at a minimum.
What Is Accident Forgiveness?
Some insurance companies provide accident forgiveness. Many times this specific package is usually issued to motorists and drivers with clean driving records. Ideally, accident forgiveness ensures your rates won’t rise from a first at-fault accident of which you’re responsible. However, if you get in another at-fault accident within a certain period, that particular second accident usually counts as your first and thus your rates go up as a result.
In order to qualify for accident forgiveness, most insurers require you to stay accident-free for some years. Otherwise, motorists who are found to have been in multiple accidents within a certain period may not qualify for this particular policy nonetheless.
But it Wasn’t My Fault!
It sounds unfair that a person’s rates would actually rise if someone else crashed into them. Whether or not your rates should go up, all this depends on how long you’ve been with a specific insurance company and the state in which you live. Even if you’re dealing with a world-class insurer, doesn’t mean you’re safe from a rate hike as these cases have been reported elsewhere and been experienced by many not-at-fault motorists after an accident.
The good news is that some countries are against this act. Some countries, like Oklahoma and California, have laws in place that prevent providers from increasing rates of other drivers and motorists after being involved in an accident that wasn’t their fault.
Who Decides If Someone Is At Fault?
Every time your car gets in an accident, your provider starts investigation right away based on the data from the police or the collision reporting department. Insurance companies are tasked with finding someone whom they can blame for the accident based on the Fault Determination Rules set by the state.
These rules clearly articulate every possible accident scenario and determine which motorist is at fault based on the final results. Unfortunately, should an insurer find you’re more than 25% at fault, your insurance rate becomes compromised and thus rises like that of someone’s who’s 100% at fault.
If you’re not satisfied with the final outcome, you can always appeal the verdict to the company’s ombudsman. If you still don’t agree with the decision, you can make a further appeal to the province’s ombudsman. If you’re involved in a fender bender but choose not to report it, it can appear on your motor vehicle record also as an at-fault accident should another person report about it.
How Do Insurers Know About Your At-Fault Accidents?
All insurance companies have a place where they document and file all reported claims. They can also easily retrieve your driver’s abstract with a simple request, which will show all violations and tickets on your motor vehicle record in the last 3 years. Insurance companies can also pull up your record using your driver’s license number.
When you’re hunting for a specific policy to cover your vehicle, the broker will first ask you questions about your driving record before they can find you a quote based on your answers. If you have accidents and other violations you don’t tell your broker about, you may be able to purchase a policy at a fair price. But sometimes the same brokers may also ask for your Autopus record, and the final quote you’re issued will be based on what’s in the system.
Even if your broker doesn’t ask for your Autoplus record, doesn’t mean that you have them fooled. If you happen to report a claim any time in the future and it turns out that you gave the wrong information about your driving history, your claim could easily be denied. Your insurer may also refuse to renew your policy for misrepresentation, which would hurt your insurance rate much more severely than an at-fault accident.
It’s important not to tell lies when you’re shopping for auto insurance or any other policy. Besides, an at-fault accident can easily be dropped off your record if you stay accident-free for several years. Also if your driving record is not that attractive, there’s a good variety of insurance companies out there that would still be happy to insure you.
Tips on How to Lower Your Insurance Rates
If you value your insurance company a lot and would like to continue working with it, your rates might go back to the initial price once all violations and any at-fault accident fall off your driving record. But there are other ways drivers and motorists can save cash on auto insurance while playing the waiting game. First check what discounts you could be eligible for in order to reduce your rates. Checking with your agent would be a good start when you want to know for sure what you might qualify for.
Below are a few ways to save money on auto insurance:
- Pay your premium early and in full
- Take a defensive driving class
- Sign up for electronic statements
- Install anti-theft devices in your vehicle
- Build your home and car insurance
- Shop around for better and more cost-effective quotes
If you receive a speeding ticket or experience an accident, this doesn’t usually go away even after a vehicle gets fixed or someone gets compensated from filing a claim. All this data stays on your driving record for some years and usually dramatically affects how much you pay for auto insurance. Luckily, all violations on your driving record don’t last forever like many people think nonetheless. Hopefully, this guide above has helped explain how long does an accident stay on your driving record. And after reading this post, all motorists everywhere will become aware and become more careful on the road next time so that they may continue paying for their coverages at a fair price without risking being penalized.