Many drivers know that wrecks can affect their car insurance rates. But not everyone knows how or why. There are also different rules for how much your rates will go up depending on details of the accident.
Why Do Car Insurance Rates Go Up After An Accident?
Car insurance rates change after an accident because the insurance provider must pay out. Once an insurer pays compensation for an approved claim, they see you as more likely to have another accident and file another claim. In order to make up for the money spent and prepare for possible future claims, insurers raise your rates.
Rates Change Differently Depending On Location
Each state operates differently when it comes to car insurance and premium changes. In many states, car insurance rates may jump by 50% or less after a single at-fault accident. This means that if you cause an accident while operating the insured vehicle, your insurance rates could increase.
States That Raise Rates By 50% Or Less After A Single At-Fault Accident
- Rhode Island
- New Mexico
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
- District of Columbia
- South Dakota
- New York
States That Raise Rates By 50% Or More After A Single At-Fault Accident
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
Different Violations Mean Different Rate Changes
The state information above is solely for single at-fault accidents on a previously accident-free record. Car rates can change greatly depending on the circumstances of an accident, as well as the results. In most states, the damage caused directly affects how much insurance rates will go up. For an at-fault accident that causes $10,000 in property damage, your rates could go up by $1,000 or more, depending on your location.
Not only accidents affect your rates, however. Violations that also raise your car insurance premiums and the average rate of increase include:
- Speeding Tickets: 23.2% increase
- Hit and Runs: 82.2% increase
- DUI/DWIs: 73.9% increase
- Moving Violations: 20.7% - 32.8% increase
- Driving with a Suspended License: 62.4% increase
In most states, violations that receive the biggest increase are hit and runs, reckless driving and driving with a suspended license. Keep in mind that each situation is different. Your speeding ticket may not raise your rates the same amount as a speeding ticket raises your neighbor's rates. This is because the change also accounts for where you were speeding (such as in a construction zone or school zone) and how fast over the speed limit you were caught driving. So, although a ticket itself may be affordable, the repercussions of that ticket on your car insurance premiums can be quite costly.
How Long Do Wrecks Stay On Your Record?
The length of time a wreck remains on record varies by state and insurance agency. However, most wrecks affect your insurance premiums for at least three years after the accident. A DUI, on the other hand, can stay on your record for five to ten years.
Insurance agencies generally look back about three to five years on your driving record in order to calculate your premiums. So, older violations should not affect your newer costs, so long as they are beyond five years.
The best way to save money on car insurance is to drive defensively and seek out discounts. There are some agencies that specialize in nonstandard and high-risk drivers who offer lower rates.
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