What Happens With Insurance If You Are At-Fault in an Accident?
Last Updated on September 1, 2020
If you’ve been involved in an at-fault collision, then you can expect to face higher insurance prices, among other consequences. Insurance companies look at your driving record to calculate premiums. Accident history and claims history are two of the biggest factors that determine how much you will pay for auto insurance. A single at-fault collision, therefore, could raise your rates drastically.
What happens if you’re involved in an at-fault collision? How does insurance work after an at-fault accident? By how much will your insurance rates increase after an at-fault accident? Below, we’re explaining everything you need to know about insurance and an at-fault collision.
What Happens After a Collision That’s Your Fault
If you were involved in a collision, then your insurance company will work to determine who was at fault for that collision.
If it was a single-vehicle accident, then your insurance company will assume you were at-fault for the collision.
If there were multiple vehicles involved, then there will be an investigation process to determine who was at fault.
In most cases, both drivers are at fault, but one driver is more at fault. The driver who is more than 50% at-fault for the collision is considered to be the “at-fault driver”.
If your insurance company determines you were at-fault for a collision, then you’ll face higher insurance rates. If you were not at-fault, however, then your insurance rates may not change at all. In fact, some states make it illegal for insurance companies to raise insurance rates after a collision where you were not at fault.
How Much Will Insurance Rates Rise After an At-Fault Collision?
An at-fault collision will almost always raise your insurance rates.
Some insurance companies will sharply raise your base premium immediately after a collision. Other insurance companies will forgive a single accident, but you might still pay higher rates when you lose your good driving discount and similar bonuses.
You already know your insurance was going up after your at-fault collision. But how much will it increase?
Typically, if you’re a clean driver and this is your first at-fault collision, you can expect insurance rates to increase from 10% to 40%.
In some cases, however, your insurance rates will hardly budge – especially if it was a minor accident and your insurance company has accident forgiveness.
After a Second At-Fault Collision, Insurance Rates Will Rise Further
Insurance companies are relatively lenient with your first at-fault collision. After your second collision, however, they won’t be as lenient.
After a second at-fault collision, you can expect insurance rates to rise anywhere from 40% to 150%. If you were involved in two serious at-fault collisions, and you start to get the reputation of a high-risk driver, then your insurance company might even cancel your policy altogether.
Rate Increases Vary Between States and Insurance Companies
Rate increases vary widely between states and insurance companies. An insurance company in one state might only raise your rates 11% after your first at-fault collision, for example, while another insurance company in a different state will increase rates by 100% after just one at-fault accident.
According to CarInsurance.com, drivers in Minnesota are punished more harshly than drivers in any other state after their first at-fault accident. They can expect an 87% increase in premiums after their first accident. In California, drivers are punished the 2nd most harshly in the country. A California driver will pay 73% higher insurance premiums, on average, after their first at-fault bodily injury accident.
Meanwhile, a driver in Alaska will pay just 11% higher rates after a single at-fault bodily injury accident.
Alabama, Arkansas, Hawaii, Mississippi, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming all had average rate increases below 20%.
Meanwhile, some of the states with the highest average insurance rate increases included California, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, and Washington, all of which had average rate increases of 40% or higher.
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How Long Does an At-Fault Collision Stay on Your Record?
An at-fault collision will stay on your driving record for years. The specific length of time, however, varies between states and situations.
In California, for example, the DMV will keep information about serious incidents on your record for 10 years. If you get a DUI in California, then you may be paying higher insurance prices for 10 years. If you were involved in a serious at-fault collision, then you might expect that incident to stay on your record for a similar length of time.
However, most minor accidents in California will only stay on your driving record for three years.
Overall, most states keep a traffic violation – like a minor at-fault collision – on your record for about 3 to 5 years.
If you were involved in a more serious at-fault accident that caused significant damage or bodily injuries, however, then you can expect to pay higher insurance prices for a longer period of time – especially if you were convicted of DUI. In Florida, for example, alcohol-related violations stay on your record for 75 years.
After an accident disappears from your state DMV’s record (say, after 3 to 5 years), it will no longer affect insurance rates. Your insurance premiums will also steadily decline after each year of clean driving.
Final Word on At-Fault Accidents and Insurance
Insurance companies use your driving record to determine your risk factor as a driver. If you have a history of one or more at-fault collisions, then you’re a higher-risk driver than someone with a clean record.
You can expect an at-fault collision to increase rates by about 30%, with the collision staying on your record for approximately 3 to 5 years. If you were convicted of driving under the influence during or after the at-fault accident, then you may face higher insurance premiums for as long as 10 years.