How Does an Accident Affect My Car Insurance Rates?

Categories: Insurance

Car accidents go on your driving record, which means they may affect your insurance rates. How long they will affect it, and by how much, all depend on the severity of the accident, the payout by the insurance company, and whether or not you caused it.

Regardless, you should always ask your insurance company if an accident will affect your rates, how long it may affect it, and whether they have a forgiveness program. Not all insurance policies come with a forgiveness policy – in fact, most companies require you to pay for the more advanced policy to unlock accident forgiveness. Even so, you only get one forgiveness episode before the next one affects your rates.

Your Car Accident Stays on Your Driving Record – But Not Forever

No matter what, your car accident will remain on your driving record, and that record is what insurers use to consider your new rates at renewal or when you apply for a new policy elsewhere. If you have an accident, that record stays for several years, but the amount of time varies.

If you were at fault for a motor vehicle accident, contact the Department of Motor Vehicles to find out how long your accident stays on your record. If you were not at fault, it will not be reported on your DMV record but it will still show up on your insurance history record.

Now, if you were at fault for an accident and there were other traffic violations associated with it – such as drunken driving, reckless driving, or speeding – then that can stay on your record for 10 years or more. Some states are nicer and only keep them there for three to five years, and there are some that keep them on your record for 75 years.

In Washington, a car accident will stay on your record for three years, while a major offense (such as a DUI) will stay there for 13 years. So, if you were to cause an accident while under the influence, keep that in mind.

How Does Your Driving Record Affect Insurance Rates?

The more violations you have on your driving record, the higher the risk you are to an insurance company. If you have a history of speeding and causing accidents, you are likely to repeat that behavior. Therefore, insurance is likely to pay out a claim in the near future. So, they will increase your monthly premium as a way to recoup that potential cost.

Once the accident or violation falls from your record, it should no longer affect your rates. If you are in the middle of a rate cycle, you may have to wait until your policy is up for renewal before you can request a re-evaluation.

Your Insurance Record and DMV Record Are Not the Same

Your driving record is just one of the areas considered when an insurance company looks at your rates. You also have insurance records, which can stick around years after a moving violation is off your driving record.

These insurance records are a history of claims filed by you, and even if you change insurance companies, the new insurer will be able to see your past claim history. So, don’t assume that you can change insurance companies to avoid higher rates.

Even if you do not cause the accident, if you have a history of multiple claims and your insurance had to pick up part of the bill, the total cost of claims and their frequency will still affect your insurance. For example, are you frequently involved in accidents with uninsured or underinsurance motorists? If so, your insurance would have to pay on those, which means you are still a liability to them. If you frequently travel to areas where there are higher accident rates and that shows in your accident history, you are more likely to experience a higher rate in the future.

What If the Accident Is Not Your Fault?

Before seeking compensation from your own insurance company, you should file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance. You are still required to let your insurance company know you were in an accident, but also let them know that you are seeking compensation from the at-fault driver.

You have the right to receive compensation if you were injured in an accident that was not your fault. The at-fault driver has an obligation to obey the rules of the road, drive safely, and limit the risk of causing harm to others who are on the road with them.

When a driver breaches that duty of care, they can be held liable in a civil personal injury lawsuit.

As the victim, you may be entitled to compensation that includes:

  • Medical Expenses – Any medical costs related to the accident, including future medical costs if you will require long-term medical care.
  • Lost Wages or Loss of Earning Capacity – The time you miss at work recovering from your accident, going to doctor’s appointments, or even going to court is compensated. Also, if you are no longer able to work in the same position or you are permanently disabled, any long-term effects to your income are compensated.
  • Pain and Suffering – While no dollar amount can make you feel whole again, the court tries to ensure that all victims of negligent accidents are financially compensated for their physical pain, emotional suffering, and mental anguish.

Call a Local Injury Team to Get the Compensation You Deserve

If you or a loved one was seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident that was not your fault, contact the attorneys at Hames, Anderson, Whitlow & O’Leary immediately. We fight aggressively for our clients right to compensation, and we have helped families just like yours hold negligent drivers accountable for their actions.

Contact our office now to schedule a consultation or to ask a question online about our legal services.