How Long Does a Car Accident Stay on Your Driving Record?

3 minutes to read

Car accidents are a nightmare. Even if no one is hurt, the stress, cost of repairs, and automated insurance calls will ruin anyone’s day. If you were at fault, you now have to deal with an increased insurance premium as well.

How can you avoid this? Are you at fault in a solo accident? Is there any way to clean up your record? Read on to learn more about what goes on behind the scenes of an accident.


No-fault vs Your Fault

No Fault Insurance

Although your rates won’t skyrocket the way they would if you were at fault, some insurance companies still assess an increased rate.

Be sure to check if your insurance company provides a guaranteed fixed rate in a no-fault accident. If you are new to driving or want to brush up on the basics of car insurance, check out this post for more information.

Let’s say the dreaded event has occurred—you were in an accident, and it was 100% your fault. In this case, your rates will likely increase, and sometimes dramatically. Let’s take a look at what happens next.


Let’s Assume You’re at Fault

There are no guarantees that your premiums will be affected. Many uncertainties surround how insurance companies calculate rates; each one is different.

Many companies evaluate drivers based on a point system. Points may stay on your record for 3 or 5 years, depending on the company. You should assume that your company keeps points for 5 years unless you know otherwise. Worst-case planning is the best in such instances.

Is there a way to scrub your record clean without waiting the 3 or 5 years? Unfortunately, no. Even if the accident is between you and the tree in your front yard, they consider it an at-fault accident that will potentially cause an increased rate for 5 years.


What to Do

You might be stuck with that increased rate for 5 years, but you can still do a few things to help offset the new cost.

First, you can check with your insurance company to see if they have an accident forgiveness program. Before you get too excited, many companies have restrictions on their programs. Some, for example, only provide forgiveness to policyholders who have been accident-free for 3 or 5 years. Others restrict it to those with no recent traffic tickets.

Second, you can increase your deductible. This will lower your premium and can make up for the increase you just received, but make sure you have the extra money available to pay it if you get into another accident.

Finally, you can shop around for new policies or look for multi-policy discounts. Rates may be lower at other companies, allowing you to keep your deductible low. Use this free tool to compare quotes from over 30 providers.

Consolidating your policies with the same company may also land you a discount large enough to cover your increased premium. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you’re getting the coverage that’s right for you and explore all the options available.