Auto insurance rates commonly increase after an accident for one of a few reasons:

1. The fees associated with filing an insurance claim

Surcharges triggered by an at-fault accident include the cost of the claim adjuster’s time, fees related to the claims representatives, and the cost of parts and labor. These fees usually aren’t accounted for in your monthly premium, and thus increase if you utilize them. It helps to know when to forgo making a claim and settling out-of-pocket, especially if it’s a minor accident.

2. Additional risk

Historical data show drivers who have been in a crash are more likely to get into another accident. These drivers present more risk — and potentially more expense — to insurance companies than do clients with clean records. An insurance company accounts for this added risk by increasing the cost of auto insurance coverage for drivers involved in collisions.

When do insurance rates decrease after an auto accident?

While the timing may vary based on location and the circumstances surrounding the incident, most insurance companies will drop rates three to five years after the incident. If the collision occurs long before your policy renewal date, this penalty period can stretch beyond the typical three-to-five-year window.

If the penalty period for an accident is set to expire in January but your policy ends in June, the accident will not be removed from your insurance bill until your policy renews — or you specifically ask. If you have an accident on your insurance record, keep track of the date and chargeable time. Your insurance company will not do this for you. This can help you avoid a longer-than-necessary surcharge period.

Three years is a common penalty period following a claim for property damage or collision. You may be penalized longer for the below violations:

  • DUI/DWI
  • Bodily injury claim
  • Reckless driving
  • Multiple — or excessive — violations within a certain time
  • An accident resulting in serious bodily harm or death

After the accident falls off your driving record, consider adding accident forgiveness to your auto insurance policy to avoid a surcharge should you’re involved in another accident. Most insurance companies require a driver to be claim- or accident-free for a period of time (typically three to five years) in order to receive accident forgiveness.

How to find cheap car insurance after an accident

The amount by which car insurance premiums go up after an accident depends on many variables. The specifics of the accident, your vehicle, you, and most importantly, your insurance company.

If you’re being charged a significant amount in additional premiums after an accident, it helps to shop around for a better rate. Every insurance company uses its own rating methods to calculate premiums, so you might be able to find cheap car insurance after an accident if you compare rates thoroughly.

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