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What is accident forgiveness car insurance coverage?

 

If you’ve ever been in a car accident before, you understand there are often serious financial consequences — especially if the accident is your fault. In fact, an at-fault accident raises auto insurance rates by an average of $845 per year! With price hikes that high, accident forgiveness coverage can be tempting.

But what does "accident forgiveness car insurance" really mean? The answer can get pretty complicated — and we'll sort it out in a second — but for now, the short answer: it depends on your insurer. Let’s explore accident forgiveness policies across some major car insurance companies.

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Accident forgiveness auto insurance: the basics

 

Accident forgiveness ensures your car insurance company won't raise your rates after your first accident.

Accident forgiveness refers specifically to at-fault accidents. Comprehensive claims wouldn't fit into this category, but a collision-type claim would, as it is considered a chargeable accident.


Finding the best car insurance with accident forgiveness

 

Although the following insurers advertise accident forgiveness car insurance, not everyone who applies will qualify for the program. Eligibility is based on individual qualifications and location. Insurers in some states — notably California— do not offer accident forgiveness programs. Below is a comparison of accident forgiveness programs across major auto insurance companies.

wrecked car
Liberty Mutual

Liberty Mutual’s accident forgiveness policy is straightforward. If you're accident-free for five years (with any company), Liberty Mutual will forgive your first accident and not raise your rates. This policy applies to all drivers in the household, including teenagers. Liberty Mutual only forgives one claim per household, not per driver.

Liberty Mutual auto accident forgiveness coverage is not available in California.

Nationwide

Nationwide's car accident forgiveness program is available at an added cost. Like many other accident forgiveness policies, Nationwide forgives your first at-fault auto accident on the policy. Nationwide couples another discount to the policy: a safe driving discount, in which you would receive an additional 10% discount if you remain accident-free for five years.

GEICO

GEICO’s accident forgiveness offers a unique add-on to the general program outline offered by other companies. The company will forgive your first auto accident, no matter who on the policy is found at-fault. GEICO accident forgiveness can be earned or purchased. In order to earn accident forgiveness through GEICO, you need to be older than 21 and have an accident-free recent driving history (five years).

This coverage is not available in California, Connecticut, or Massachusetts.

Progressive

Progressive's accident forgiveness program is a tiered loyalty program. While you don't pay extra for it, you must be insured with an accident-free driving record with Progressive for a certain period of time in order to qualify. Even if you've been accident-free for decades, you would not immediately qualify for Progressive's accident forgiveness if you're a new customer. Tiers are assigned based on how long you have been accident-free (three years versus five years) and how major an incident the company is willing to forgive (small payout versus large).

Allstate

Allstate's accident forgiveness plan works differently than other accident forgiveness car insurance policies. To qualify for accident forgiveness through Allstate, you must pay using the company's Gold or Platinum coverage plan. Together, these plans are known as the YourChoice Auto plan. For a gold plan, it takes three years without an accident in order to be eligible for accident forgiveness. With the platinum plan, your accident forgiveness begins immediately.

This coverage is not available in California.

Erie

Erie insurance offers several options for accident forgiveness coverage. The first, more standard coverage, First Accident Forgiveness, follows the same concept as other companies: the first accident isn't chargeable if you've been a customer for three years. The company's second feature, called Feature 15, refers to a loyalty program that forgives all at-fault auto accidents if you are with Erie for 15 years. The company does not specify whether you need to be claims-free for the 15-year term in order to qualify, so you would need to speak with your agent to see if you are eligible.

Travelers

Travelers offers auto accident and minor violation forgiveness for a fee, forgiving one accident or violation every three years. In terms of the monetary cost of a "violation," it is not clear if they are referring to driving without your lights on (about $68 per year), speeding (depends on how much you are exceeding the speed limit by) or a DUI ($1,099 annual increase). If you're with Travelers, ask your accident exactly which kind of violation they are referring to.

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Is accident forgiveness car insurance worth it?

Deciding on whether or not to purchase accident forgiveness coverage and which insurer to use are difficult choices. You'd want it if you need it, but is the price worth the payout? Here are some other questions you should ask yourself before making a decision:

  • How likely are you or someone on your policy to be in an at-fault accident or to file a claim?
  • Does the coverage apply to everyone on the policy? Especially inexperienced or risky drivers?
  • Is the additional premium of the coverage less than the increased rate of an at-fault accident?

 

insurance policy

If your head is spinning after those questions, don't panic. Let's walk through the considerations.

First, consider whether anyone on your policy is a high-risk driver. These policies can apply to all members of your household, including teen drivers. If you’re worried about an inexperienced family member, consider this policy. If you’ve never had an accident in your adult life and have a clean claims record, you might not need this coverage.

Always read the fine print of your policy to look for hidden exceptions. If you're interested in accident forgiveness to cover your teenage son but teenagers are excluded from your insurer's clause, you should consider other options. Another common clause includes: all drivers must be accident-free for three to five years in order to qualify. In this case, a newly licensed driver might have trouble getting accident forgiveness coverage, as they might not have a driving record longer than a few months.

The third question is a little harder to answer. The amount you’d pay for an at-fault accident depends on many variables. On average, expect to pay $845 more per year after an at-fault accident. You’ll most likely be charged for three years after an at-fault accident, so the total costs can add up to about $2,535 over the course of that time.

If you’ve never had an accident in your adult life and have a clean claims record, you might not need this coverage.

Accident/Violation Avg. Annual Premium Annual Increase
None $1,759 $0
At-fault accident - greater than $2000 $2,605 $845
Updated: 09/29/22.

Dynamic auto insurance data methodology

Methodology: The auto insurance rates displayed above and throughout this page are dynamic, meaning the data will refresh when the most recent information is made available. Rates are based on a sample driver profile — a 30-year-old single male driver with a Honda Accord and full coverage. This profile was adjusted based on common pricing factors used by major car insurance companies, like age, coverage level, driving record and others.

So, if you’re worried about the likelihood of having an at-fault accident and that scary $2,535 chargeable premium, consider accident forgiveness. A licensed insurance agent should be able to quote you the exact cost of adding accident forgiveness to your policy.

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RECENT QUESTIONS

What's the difference between a vanishing deductible and accident forgiveness

Let's first summarize the two: Accident Forgiveness with Liberty Mutual: If you're accident-free for five years (with any company), the company will forgive your first accident and not raise your rates. Furthermore, this policy can apply to all members of the household, including teenagers.
Mar 31, 2018 Portland, Oregon

Will my rate go up for filing a claim even if I have accident forgiveness?

It really will depend on how your previous accident was categorized. If you were considered to be at fault in the previous crash then your accident forgiveness was likely used during that particular claim.
Jul 23, 2017 Albuquerque, NM

Ava Lynch photo
Ava LynchSenior Analyst

Ava joined The Zebra as a writer and licensed insurance agent in 2016. She now works as a senior analyst, providing insights and data analysis as one of The Zebra's property and casualty insurance experts.

Ava’s insurance career began as an agent with Farmers Insurance. Over the years, she has become an authority in all things property and casualty insurance, helping her to write informative guides for shoppers.

Ava’s work has been cited in publications such as InvestopediaThe BalanceMoney.comLiberty Mutual, U.S. News & World Report, GasBuddy, Car and Driver and Yahoo! Finance.

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.