Why you can trust The Zebra

The Zebra partners with some of the companies we write about. However, our content is written and reviewed by an independent team of editors and licensed agents. Reference our data methodology and learn more about how we make money.

How much does car insurance go up after an accident?

After an at-fault accident, policyholders can expect insurance rates to rise by $767 per year — that's an increase of almost 50% from the average rate without an accident ($1,548). Most accidents, tickets and moving violations stay on a driver's record for as long as three to five years. Over a three-year period, that could add up to $2,300 in extra insurance premiums.

Read on to learn more about how to handle car insurance after an accident.

 

Car insurance rates after an accident — table of contents:
  1. Which insurance company is the best after an accident?
  2. Why do car insurance rates go up after an accident?
  3. When do rates go down after an accident?
  4. FAQs

 


 

Which insurance company is the best after an accident?

Of the major car insurance companies, the cheapest rates after an accident come from USAA, GEICO, and State Farm. Both GEICO and USAA advertise "accident forgiveness" options that can minimize the increase of your premiums, though these must be purchased separately as an add-on and must be in place at the time of the accident. Bear in mind that these options may not be available in every state. 

While you can definitely expect higher rates after an auto accident, each insurer will weigh them differently. To illustrate the financial ramifications of a collision, we gathered car insurance rates from some of the most popular auto insurance companies in the U.S. (methodology). See below how much a collision could cost, depending on the insurer you choose. Keep in mind that the table shows the cumulative additional premium that you will accrue over the three-year period.

AVERAGE ANNUAL INSURANCE RATES AFTER AN ACCIDENT (AT-FAULT): 3-YEAR DURATION
Insurance provider No accident Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
Allstate $1,888 $3,017 $4,147 $5,276
Farmers $1,525 $2,226 $2,928 $3,629
GEICO $1,276 $1,997 $2,719 $3,441
Liberty Mutual $1,647 $2,358 $3,068 $3,779
Nationwide $1,347 $2,174 $3,000 $3,827
Progressive $1,604 $2,772 $3,941 $5,110
State Farm $1,313 $1,617 $1,922 $2,226
USAA $948 $1,288 $1,629 $1,969

 

Allstate is typically the most expensive car insurance company after an at-fault accident, while USAA is the cheapest.

AVERAGE INSURANCE RATE INCREASE AFTER A COLLISION (AT-FAULT)
Insurance provider Average increase after an accident
Allstate $1,129
Farmers $701
GEICO $721
Liberty Mutual $710
Nationwide $826
Progressive $1,168
State Farm $304
USAA $340
Total Insurance Cost of At-Fault Accident.png

 

Compare rates and find an affordable insurance policy.

or
Location pin icon
glyph-shield-checkmark No junk mail. No spam calls. Free quotes.

 


 

Why do car insurance rates go up after an accident?

 

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

1. The fees associated with filing an auto 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. The 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 a car insurance policy for a "high-risk driver" involved in a collision.

 


 

When do insurance rates go down after an 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 (assuming you've kept a clean driving record during that time). 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. Policyholders may be penalized for a longer period of time following certain 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) 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.

While it's definitely not recommended for newer or higher priced vehicles, foregoing extra coverage options such as comprehensive or collision coverage can dramatically lessen your monthly rates. Liability coverage is often enough to keep you legal, but your own vehicle would have no coverage. 

If you’re being charged a significant amount in additional premiums after an accident, it helps to shop around for a better rate. Every auto 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.

 


 

Frequently asked questions

 

By how much does car insurance go up after an accident?

An at-fault collision causing more than $2,000 in damage to your vehicle can raise your insurance rates by $767 per year, on average. Because most accidents stay on your record for at least three years, you can expect to pay at least an extra $2,300 in premiums during that time. USAA and State Farm deliver the smallest average premium hikes after an accident, at just $340 and $304 per year, respectively.

When does car insurance go down after an accident?

At-fault accidents usually stay on your driving record for between three and five years. As such, you can expect your insurance rates to be affected for at least three years. One way to save on auto insurance is to compare rates and look for a new policy.

Is it possible to get cheap car insurance after an accident?

Yes, you can most certainly get car insurance after an accident. However, it might not be affordable. If the accident was your fault, you can expect that your new car insurance company will charge you more for your policy. However, if you didn’t have car insurance at the time of your accident, your new policy will only apply going forward and will not extend retroactively to your prior accident.

How can I find cheap car insurance after an accident?

Comparing quotes from multiple car insurance companies is the best way to combat soaring premiums for insurance coverage. Many insurers provide policy discounts for things such as bundling your home and auto policies. You could also consider raising your deductible, as that can lead to lower monthly payments.

RECENT QUESTIONS

Can I get a refund for premiums I was forced to pay after accident?

Unfortunately, I do not have any experience with this matter. It does seem like a major oversight on part of Liberty Mutual.
Oct 13, 2018 Valley Cottage, NY

Will an unreported car accident affect my premium?

If you were never cited for the accident and never filed a claim, there should be no insurance record of your accident. Insurance companies generally run two reports when you sign up for new insurance — your motor vehicle report (MVR) and another for claims history (CLUE). If they're clean, they should show no record of the accident and your rate should be unaffected.
Jun 1, 2020 Houston, TX

Will my car insurance claim be denied if i got into a wreck 1 week after reinstating my policy?

If your policy was active at the time of the accident then you should be covered. While the insurance company may be a little suspicious at the timing of your claim with regard to it recently being reinstated, you should still be covered assuming that there was no fraudulent activity.
May 3, 2017 Fayetteville, AR

Will I be notified when a claim is made against my insurance?

Unless the other driver never files a claim, you'll likely be hearing from either your company or the other driver's insurance company in the next few days to get your statement about the accident. You can always be proactive and contact your insurance company first to let them know about the incident and provide any pictures from the scene; I recommend this route.
Jan 18, 2017 Peoria, IL

Kristine Lee photo
Kristine LeeManager, Content and Data

Kristine is a licensed insurance agent who joined The Zebra in 2019 as an in-house content researcher and writer.

She is an authority on all things insurance and covers the ins and outs of auto, home, life and renters insurance. Her specialty is in providing data-backed insights and information to help insurance shoppers make informed decisions.

Kristine's insurance expertise and research have been cited by publications such as CNBC, Car and Driver, Business Insider, Yahoo!, The Balance, Nationwide and Elephant.

About The Zebra

The Zebra is not an insurance company. We publish data-backed, expert-reviewed resources to help consumers make more informed insurance decisions.

  • The Zebra’s insurance content is written and reviewed for accuracy by licensed insurance agents.

  • The Zebra’s insurance content is not subject to review or alteration by insurance companies or partners.

  • The Zebra’s editorial team operates independently of the company’s partnerships and commercialization interests, publishing unbiased information for consumer benefit.

  • The auto insurance rates published on The Zebra’s pages are based on a comprehensive analysis of car insurance pricing data, evaluating more than 83 million insurance rates from across the United States.