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How Long Does an Accident Stay on Your Record?


By record, we don’t mean your permanent or personal record; we mean your driving record. Car insurance companies won’t usually look at your permanent record, but they will want to see at least three to five years of your driving record to assess how much of a risk you are to insure. Any noticeable markups can result in your insurer setting higher rates for coverage.

The good news is that neither the accident on your record or your high premiums last forever. But how long will it stay on your record? And, how much is your premium before and after? This guide to driving record marks and car insurance rates answers these questions and more.

What Is The Relationship Between Accidents And Car Insurance?

It’s everything, actually. When an accident occurs, car insurance is called on to be the first line of financial defense. They handle your accident claims and provide a payout for your active policies, as long as you pay your rates. The amount of accident claims you file is directly proportional to how much you pay monthly for insurance. Because you have gotten into an accident, the insurance company may come to expect this kind of driving from you and raise your premiums.

However, drivers can sometimes prove their providers wrong by practicing safe driving or taking a driving course. These are just a couple of measures you can take to lower your premiums. Having an accident on your record within five years of buying new car insurance has the same effect even though you haven’t filed a claim through them. So, it’s an ongoing task of keeping your rates affordable.

How Does an Accident Appear on Your Driving Record?

Every driver with a license and registration in the United States has a motor vehicle record or MVR. This record isn’t attached to the car you drive, but to your driver’s license, so it follows you wherever you go. Your MVR keeps track of all the accidents and traffic violations. Even something as simple as a speeding ticket will show up. However, when a certain markup appears is based on how severe the violation was.

How Long Will an Accident be on a Driving Record?

The severity of the violation is just one thing that determines how long it will remain on your record. It also differs from state to state. What’s more, each state also has a different practice for how many years back on someone’s driver’s license they look at. An example would be that Massachusetts doesn’t look any more than six years on a potential policyholder’s record, while New York may only look at three years or less. In most states, though, an accident or violation usually stays on a driver’s record from anywhere from three to five years. However, something as major as a hit-and-run or a DUI will stay on for 10 years.

Does it Matter if The Accident Was Your Fault?

Accidents of any nature will appear on your driving record, even if it wasn’t your fault. At the same time, it will have an effect on your insurance rates. It’s unfortunate, but even if your insurance provider looks at the police report and sees that you legally didn’t cause an accident, your rates may see an increase of up to 17%. However, check your state to see if it has laws in place which prevent insurance rates from increasing after an accident where you aren’t at fault. Suppose you wish to avoid accidents with other drivers by taking a defensive driving course. Not only is it a great way to be a safe driver, but it also helps you be aware of other drivers on the road. Another option you have is to check with your insurance provider to see if they offer accident forgiveness.

How Can You Lower Your Insurance Rates After an Accident?

While the passage of time is the only resolution for accidents markups on your driving record, you can do some things to help lower your insurance rates after an accident causes them to rise. In addition to accident forgiveness, there may be other discounts you qualify for. You could even be able to tailor your auto policy to suit your budget until the rates return to normal.

Here are ways you can lower your car insurance rates:

  • Improve credit score - Your insurance provider looks at your credit score and partially bases your rates on it. Having a good credit score by paying your bills on time may help lower your premiums in the long run.
  • Insurance discounts - Check with your insurer to see if you qualify for any discounts. This can include student, multiple cars, new driver, military, senior, or bundled insurance discounts.
  • Take a defensive driving course - As previously mentioned, completing a defensive driving course will help lower the auto rates of a high-risk driver, even after an accident.
  • Dropping some coverage - Let’s say that full auto coverage has too high of rates for your budget. You can always drop your comprehensive, collision, or any other add-ons for the time being. Basic coverage is always cheaper than full coverage.
  • Usage-based insurance - If you don’t drive as much, you can pay for your auto insurance based on the miles you put on your car. You do this by buying a pay-per-mile auto policy or a usage-based program with a telemetric device. Naturally, this is the cheaper alternative to standard car insurance.

Besides a Collision, What Else Affects Your Rates?

A collision on your driving record will be one of many things that an insurance company will look at when determining your rates. Factors can range from driving habits to vehicle type to personal factors.

Here’s what to be mindful of when looking at auto insurance costs because providers sure will be:

  • State’s minimum insurance requirements - 48 out of 50 states have auto insurance requirements for their drivers. The amounts are consistent but different from state to state. Look at your state’s insurance amount to see how much you should at least be carrying.
  • Age - The younger the driver, the more risk of getting into an accident they have, according to insurance providers. Rates tend to be high until the driver turns 25.
  • Sex - Women pay less for car insurance than men do.
  • Marital status - Insurance rates for married drivers are less than those unmarried.
  • Car make and model - The type of vehicle you drive will also determine how high your insurance rates will be. Some makes and models are more expensive because of their parts or manufacturer. Cars 10 years or older may require specialized insurance.
  • Credit score - As previously discussed, insurers will look at your credit score to determine your rates.

How Long Does a Specific Accident Stay on Your Driving History?

You now have a more than general knowledge of car insurance rates and their relation to an accident, and by an extent, how long it will stay on someone’s driving record (three to five years).

The best way to close out this post is with a list of specific accidents and traffic violations:

  • First accident - If it’s minor, then your first recorded accident could be forgiven by your insurance company and may not appear on your record. Having accident forgiveness really helps here.
  • Accident - After your first accident, your insurance company may be unlikely to offer forgiveness on a second one, even if it’s minor. This would stay on your driving record for three years to five years, depending on the state.
  • Hit-and-run - A hit-and-run is both an accident and a traffic violation since leaving the scene of an accident without exchanging information is a crime. A mark for a hit-and-run is more severe and can spend 10 years on a driving record.
  • Driving under the influence - A DUI can do a lot of damage to anyone’s driving record. At the very least, a DUI can remain on driving history for 10 years; again, it depends on the state. Some are even known to keep a DUI on record permanently.

Even if you have a less than favorable driving record, Insurance Navy can help you find affordable auto insurance. Get a free car insurance quote online or call us at 888-949-6289.

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