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How Much Does Insurance Go Up After An Accident?

Written by Todd Clay. Posted in Research Last Updated: 05/16/2013

Does Insurance Go Up After An Accident? – Sometimes rates increase & sometimes you get canceled – what makes the difference?

blue car hit utility pole

How much will this driver’s insurance go up?

How much does insurance go up after an accident?

It depends. Largely on the nature of the accident and how your insurance company views it.

Sometimes your rates are unchanged. In another situation, your policy will be dropped from the company – a bad situation. Oftentimes, the answer is somewhere in between. That’s why it’s often hard to answer how much insurance goes up after an accident.

Before delving into specifics on whether post-accident insurance increases, you should understand one of the immutable laws of auto insurance:

Drivers with Incidents (Accidents/Tickets) Pay More

In general, people who have tickets pay more than people who don’t have tickets. In addition, people who make claims pay more as well. On the other hand, safe drivers with no tickets or accidents pay the lowest premiums.

That’s just how it works in Insurance Land.

How Insurance Companies Rate An Accident

So if you have an at-fault accident and there’s a large claim, the rule is you will pay more for your insurance premium. If the accident involves gross negligence (think DWI), your insurance policy could even be canceled. Ultimately, that means you will pay more for your insurance since you’ll need high risk insurance.

So how much more will you pay?

Assuming you don’t get canceled, you may get a surcharge on your policy. These surcharges can be 10% or more. They’re also stackable – meaning you can have more than one surcharge if you have more than one accident.

Surcharges are also different from company to company and usually last 3 years. If you get one, plan to pay an increased rate for awhile. Bottom line, if you have an at-fault accident with a big claim, your insurance will go up.

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But there are exceptions to the rule of increased premiums after an accident.

Some companies overlook a minor accident. If the company pays out a small claim, (a few hundred dollars) rates may be unchanged. In addition, claims under the comprehensive (i.e. “other than collision”) portion of your insurance generally do not affect your rates either, regardless of how large or frequent they are. In other words, fixing the ding in your windshield should not affect your insurance premiums.

It’s also possible to have a bad accident and not have your insurance rates go up at all. The important factors are if you got a ticket and if your insurance company had to pay a claim.  For instance, if you’re in an accident, are not found at fault and don’t make a collision claim, chances are your insurance company won’t even know it happened. In that case, your rates will be unchanged.

Your At-Fault Accidents Will (Probably) Be Discovered

If you’re concerned about increased premiums after an accident, you may be thinking about trying to hide the incident. Bear in mind, it’s hard to hide accidents – especially if you’re shopping for a new auto policy.

While writing new business auto insurance companies check your record against a shared database which includes your motor vehicle and auto insurance claim record. If the agent doesn’t do it, the underwriter at the main office will. Don’t be afraid to ask for a copy of this report as errors can and do occur.

In addition, your current company will sometimes run internal audits on existing customers. It’s best to be up front with your agent or broker so they know what’s going on.

Accidents Are Usually Forgotten – In Time

One nice thing about accidents they don’t stay on your record forever. For underwriting purposes, most companies disregard anything that happened more than five years ago, no matter how serious.

Some companies overlook accidents at the three-year mark. Rates can also go down at renewal on existing policies as accidents drop off in time. Keeping track of when your accidents drop off can save you money, especially if you’re currently in a high-risk company and can qualify to go back to lower standard company rates.

When Will Rates Increase After An Accident?

Another thing to consider is that an insurance company cannot change your rates mid-term for any reason. Any rate increase must come at your next renewal. Therefore several months may pass between an accident and any corresponding rate increase.

This can give you time to find a less expensive insurance company. However, that company will see your accident and rate you accordingly right away – they sometimes even change your rate later if you hid an incident during underwriting. Just be honest with the new company if you’re shopping because of a pending cancellation.

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Todd Clay

Todd Clay is a former insurance agent with the largest insurance company in the United States. He earned his Bachelor’s from the University of Texas. He's worked in several fields but has specialized in insurance, financial-related information, and technology. He blogs at Car Insurance Guidebook. Connect with Tood on Google+

Reviews (30)

  • Emily

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    Hi, I’m a 17 year old and just got a ticket for speeding, is it going to affect my insurance rates very much?

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    • Michele Wilmonen

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      HI, Emily. More than likely yes, you will be facing a price hike once your insurance company pulls your DMV record and finds it on there. How high the price increase will be will depend on the insurance company and if you have had prior tickets or accidents already on your driving record.

      Reply

  • Accident_Premium_Rate

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    Hi Changed from one insurance to another insurance. New insurance underwriter had approved my policy & all paper work was done and from Oct 1st 2013, it was going to be effective. But unfortunately on Sep 27th 2013, where i still with old insurance company, i met with an accident and it was my fault. My car was TOTAL & other person car expense was 8 K, which all claimed through my old insurance. And cop gave me a ticket for traffic infraction “following too close”

    Now coming to my point. Right now, my new insurance doesn’t know about my accident. But, they will know during renewal. Meanwhile, i contacted the court & judge asked me to pay total of $300 for ticket fine & the court will dismiss the above-referenced infraction at the end of the deferral period.

    I have three question:

    1) What actually my deferral period? Whether it is period of 1 year with no new traffic infraction or criminal traffic violations or whether i am entitled to only one (1) deferred finding for a moving violation and one (1) deferred finding for a non-moving violation within a seven (7) year period

    2) In 2010 i got a speeding ticket and i appealed to court & i requested for “mitigation hearing” & judge dismissed my ticket infraction without any fine fee. Added the case number is not available, if i search with my name in King County records.

    3) Which is the cheapest option. Already paid $150 for the ticket and again, I have to pay for $150 for the court to dismiss the above-referenced infraction at the end of the deferral period. Or just leave it and during my insurance renewal, whether my insurance will not see it or not?

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    • Michele Wilmonen

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      Hi, thanks for your question. Let’s jump right into the questions as you listed them.

      1) You will have to check with you state authorities as to the deferral period they have.
      2) I am not sure what the question is here. If the ticket was dismissed your insurance company should not use it against you to increase your rates.
      3) Paying for the ticket and having it dismissed, or letting it stay and face an insurance premium increase is a very hard question for any driver to deal with. I can not direct you as to which way to go, but what I can say is that you never know what the future holds. If you have other situations in the future that do get added to your driving record and cannot be removed, you would be in a better place with fewer past citations. So whenever you are given the chance to have citations removed from your driving record take them.

      Will paying to have it removed be cheaper than the insurance rate increase if you just allowed it to stay? Because each insurance company and policy is different, no one can really say until after it has already been charged to your policy.

      Reply

  • Houston

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    Hey, thank you for posting this!

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    • Michele Wilmonen

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      Glad it helped. Thanks for visiting.

      Reply

  • Howard

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    My Brother was involved in a small accident that cracked a one piece tail light of a really old Buick from early 90s. I got a new car that i just added to the policy not knowing that the policy would go up so high. Our policy spiked by several hundreds of dollars. I called and they told me the accident came out to 18k. Most of it was for medical bills, im thinking fraud. Would it be best to start looking for another policy.

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    • Michele Wilmonen

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      Yeah, that sounds like fraud to me also from my experience working in claims. You need to call the insurance company and find out whose medical bills they were and if they are already investigating this because of the minor damage. I have never seen a legitimate claim with that much in medical bills from something that only caused a cracked tail light.

      If they can’t give you a legitimate reason as to the large amount or they are not investigating, I would call the state Insurance Commissioner or Department of Insurance to see if you have any recourse.

      And yes, it may be time to start getting quotes from other insurance companies.

      Michele

      Reply

  • Matt

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    Hi, had an at fault accident in December 2009, and allstate added a surcharge at my next renewal (May 2010). Now that the accident has dropped (3 years), can I get Allstate to lower my rate prior to my renewal date, May 2013, or do I have to wait for the renewal?

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    • Michele Wilmonen

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      Unfortunately, you have to wait for the renewal in most cases. But, it wouldn’t hurt to ask, the worst they can tell you is that you have to wait.

      Reply

  • Naveraju

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    hi, I envolved in an accident, but it was not my fault. I have the police report showing that with me. It was happen 8 months ago. Now I change my insurence compnay, first I asked the quote. The rate was low, and I purchased that. Later they increase the premium and told that I had an accident in my driving history, eventhough it was not my mistake its a part of my history. They also told me that when I ask the quote, I answered that I do not have any accident, but they looked at my driving history and found it so my premium goes high. It is doing by geico and i had filed a claim to repair my car with geico at that time. Is it resonable ? I am confuse why that accident affect me since I did not have any fault.

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    • Michele Wilmonen

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      Unfortunately, even if you are not at fault for an accident you have to claim it when you are getting quotes for other insurance companies. A not-at-fault accident should not affect your insurnace premium as drastically as an at-fault accident though. I would check with your insurance company to see if they have the accident listed as an “at-fault” or “not-at-fault”.

      If they have it listed as “at-fault” provide them with the police report showing so and contact the claims department at GEICO to demand that they change the accident listing on your CLUE report. The CLUE report is most likely where you new insurance company found the accident in the first place.

      Reply

  • Nathan S

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    Hello, I am 19 and accidentally backs into a buddy of mines car in a small parking lot. It’s only about a 4″ wide dent and a small crack in the paint. Would you recommend getting it fixed out of pocket or by insurance? It doesn’t seem to be that bad of damage.

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    • Michele Wilmonen

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      That would be something that you and your friend need to come to an agreement on. I never recommend that you pay for it on your own, just in case something goes wrong or there is underlying damage that you can’t see.

      You can always have your friend get an estimate for how much the damage is, and if you can afford to pay for it then do so. Just get something in writing, that both of your sign, that you are agreeing to pay for the damages that are on the estimate. If you can’t afford it, file a claim with your insurance company.

      But, again, that is a decision that is up to you,

      Reply

  • Darin

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    hi i have a question. the other day i was backing up my truck from my driveway and slightly hit my dads car on the side. it wasnt a big hit. plus the car is old and in bad condition anyways. he instead on making a police report and file an isurance claim. Do you think my insurance will go up? and will my insurance give my dad money to fix the car or will they fix it themselves? thank you

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    • Michele Wilmonen

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      Your car insurance might go up. It all depends on your past accident and driving history, as well as how much is paid out for the claim. It is almost impossible to speculate what an insurance policy will do after an accident.

      The insurance company could go either way with the repair compensation. For example, the bad car accident I was in three years ago left my car undriveable and sitting in a body shop. The other person’s car insurance paid the shop directly for the repairs.

      On the other hand, my husband’s truck was rear ended by another driver and their insurance company just gave my husband a check based off the estimate from the repair shop.

      Reply

  • Robert

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    I’ve never been in an accident and have never received a ticket. About 3 weeks ago I lightly bumped into a car in front of me in a parking lot with my truck. The license plate on my truck was flush against the car in front of me and when I backed my truck out there were four small (centimeter long) scratches left on the chrome grille of the car in front. The guy was willing to handle it without having to go through our insurance companies. At first he estimated it was like $300 to replace the grille but now he’s saying it’s more like $600. What should I do? Should I go through my insurance (USAA)? How much will my rate go up? –Thank you in advance.

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    • Michele Wilmonen

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      I never like to tell people to handle their claims outside if their insurance company. Because if you do, you lose all of the legal protection you have from scumbags that will take advantage of you. But I honestly can’t tell you how much your insurance will go up, either.

      If you choose to handle the issue without the insurance company, have the other person provide you with an estimate from the body shop that will fix the repairs. Make sure that the repairs are ONLY for the damage that you did and nothing else. If you can pay the body shop directly and keep that receipt.

      Reply

  • Buu

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    i got into an accident where i ran the red light. the estimate to fix the other car is $900. the guy said if i don’t want to, he won’t report it to the insurance. he’ll work something out where i’ll only have to pay him $700. though i’m wondering will my insurance go up for this incident? should i just go ahead n report it to them? or should i just go with the deal? i got allstate, and i’m a teen driver (female). got license like a few months ago. i also got a citation for running the red light.

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    • Michele Wilmonen

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      I don’t like it when another party wants to settle without getting the insurance companies involved. If you do decide to do this, have them sign a paper that says the $700 satisfies the damages caused to their vehicle.

      I know you don’t want to see your insurance premiums go up, but you will be better protected by having the claim filed with the insurance company. My main concern is that they will try to take advantage of you because you are so young and that they will keep coming back for more money, saying that the damage is not all paid for.

      Reply

  • John

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    I recently got in a parking lot fender bender and both cars bumpers got destroyed I’m 17 how much would my premium go up? Just want a estimate

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    • Michele Wilmonen

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      I’m sorry to hear about your accident, John. I wish I could help, but I wouldn’t be able to tell you even closely what your insurance premium is going to go up to.

      Insurance rates are based on so many different factors, that the very same accident can have two completely different outcomes for each driver involved.

      Reply

  • Christa

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    Hello
    So my fiend hit my car pretty bad and the cost to fix it would be around 2,000. And I am currently driving a rental under their ins. They have gieco and responsibility has been accepted on their end. They are a 25yr old male.

    They had an accident about 9 months ago that didn’t cause their ins to go up because the damages were under 2,000. I said I’d help them with the difference In their premium because I feel bad. What can I expect the increase to be or around what percentage?

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    • Michele Wilmonen

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      Sorry to tell you, but I have no idea. Increases in insurance rates from accidents vary depending on company, the driver, the details on the policy, their underwriting department, and what they have filed with the Department of Insurance or Insurance Commissioner in your state.

      I can tell you that any increases that he sees from the accident are going to follow him for a long time. So, you may have committed yourself to a longterm agreement o paying the different for him.

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  • Al Stotes

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    Here is a very unique situation: My brother was driving to work when a man darted into traffic on foot and rolled up the hood and shattered the windshield. My brother proceeded to make sure the man was alright, which he was but in a dazed state, then placed him in the front passenger seat and began driving to the hospital. The man came to in minutes and severely objected being brought to the hospital. It turned out he was a fugitive and was hit by my brother while trying to evade the cops. My brother then told him he needed medical attention which then the man tried holding him up and went for a weapon. There was a scuffle and the man was ejected from the vehicle (my brother is quite built). The man disappeared and a police report was filed. Damage: broken windshield and dented hood. Comprehensive covers the windshield yet I am reluctant to go in as I can imagine our rates will climb as my brother is only 20. Any comments?

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    • Michele Wilmonen

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      Yep, definately have comments.

      This is a not at-fault accident and your brother has the police report to back it up. If you file a claim with the insurance company it is unlikely that you will see an increase in your insurance premium. Also, comprehensive claims, don’t have near as much impact on insurance premiums as collision claims do. However, with the damage to the hood as well, the whole claim may be put under collision coverage.

      Talk to your agent and tell him the situation. See what he or she advises.

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  • T

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    My daughter(17) backed into a friends mailbox. It left a dent and scratched off the paint down to the metal. I’m not sure what the repair cost will be as this just happened last night. My ins agent said it would cause our insurance to go up 25%($310 per yr for three yrs) then I complained since we have had ins with them for several yrs and then he responded by saying that It wouldn’t actually go up $930 for 3 years as I stated that as your daughter gets older her rates are going to go down so the effect of the surcharge would be diminished. Yes, an at-fault claim for a young driver can have a big effect on insurance. It wouldn’t be even close to that amount had you had the same accident.
    I did fail to mention that if the claim is under $1000, we don’t surcharge.
    You may lose some discounts but it wouldn’t go up $310/yr if it was under$1000 ”
    What does this mean? Should we file the claim or not? I’m thinking damages will be approx 500-800 but I’m no expert so I really dont know. We have a deductible of $500 but have a $250 deductible credit for no claims….What do I do? Thanks,

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    • Michele Wilmonen

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      Hi, T. Thanks for the question. As I am not a licensed agent in our area and don’t work for your insurance company, the advice I am about to give you is an opinion only, and should not be taken as legal advice.

      There are a couple points here:

      1) This is the first time I have seen an agent ever give out specific rate increase numbers for what will happen if you file a claim. The confusion that he issued out after he told you the 25%, is just proof that no one really knows how much your insurance will go up if you file a claim for an at-fault accident.

      2) It sounds like the claim is going to cost you less than what your rate increase would be if you reported it. I would get quotes on the damage to give you a better idea of what you will be dealing with.

      3) If you report this claim, you will lose that earned benefit of having your deductible waived. This seems like too small of a claim to cash that in on.

      So, get the quotes to see what you are dealing with, and then I would weigh the pro’s and con’s of filing a claim versus not filing a claim. Wish I could give you a more definative answer.

      Michele

      Reply

  • HOLLI

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    I have a question for you. In December 2011 my son was almost 17 had a fender bender on the freeway. The girl he hit was pregnant. She said she was not hurt but EMS took her to the hospital due to the fact of the pregnancy. He go ta ticket for failure to control speed. It happened during rush hour morning bumper to bumper traffic. He took care of the ticket and took defensive driving. Then we were notified by our insurance company the girl he hit and Steve Lee “The Hammer” were suing us. Our insurance co. Settled out of court for 100,000. I am sick about it. One week later to the day the insurance company settled this law suit he ran into a Mercedes in the parking lot at his job. The front door and mirror on the passanger side were damaged. What advise can you give me. I told the driver my son would pay for his car to be repaired and that we would not be filing on the insurance. PLEASE HELP

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    • Michele Wilmonen

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      Hi Holli,

      If you are going to pay for the other driver’s damages out of pocket, you need to have him take it to a repair shop to get an estimate and make sure that you have the receipts for paying for the repairs and have him sign a document that you paid for the repairs, so that he can’t come back at you for more money.

      If you do report it to your insurance company, you are going to see a huge increase in your premium. We are talking about a 17-year-old male that has had two accident in less than a year and one of them was a major lawsuit.

      What you do is up to you, but having your son pay for the damages is a good idea. Otherwise, he is not going to change his driving habits.

      Reply

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