How Do Car Accidents Affect Insurance Rates?

When you experience a car accident, there will likely be a lot on your mind. First, it is important to ensure you and everyone involved are safe and getting medical attention if needed. However, there are many other things that may be occupying your mind, like the shape your car is now in and how your insurance rate will be affected.

It is standard practice for your car insurance rates to increase after a car accident, especially if the accident was your fault. The amount by which it increases, though, can vary depending on a few factors. It is important to understand how your rates will be impacted prior to filing a claim.

Accident Forgiveness 


After you experience a car accident, your car insurer just might raise your rate when you file a claim. However, the exact amount by which your rate increases will depend on factors such as the type of car accident you had and what insurer you have.

Additionally, some insurers might have accident forgiveness programs. If so, you will likely not see a rate increase after certain kinds of accidents. For example, your first accident may be forgiven as a courtesy. Small accidents may also be forgiven.

Driving History

One of the first things that insurance companies look at when you have been in a car accident is your driving history. This is used to then determine your car insurance rate. 

Car accidents remain on your driving record for different amounts of time depending on what state you live in and who your insurer is. It is important to contact a Stockton car accident lawyer if you experience a car accident in Stockton or a nearby area.

At-Fault Accidents Vs. No-Fault Accidents

If you are at fault for a car accident, your insurance rate is just about always going to increase. In some states, your insurer might not raise your premium if the damage is under a certain amount of money, though.

Unfortunately, even if an accident is not your fault, your insurance rates still might increase in certain states. This is because even if you are not at fault, it can point towards a greater chance of future accidents.

Thankfully, your insurance rates likely will not increase as much for a no-fault accident as opposed to an at-fault collision. Regardless, the accident will stay on your driving record for some time.

Comprehensive Claims


Comprehensive claims are unique since they cover incidents typically outside a driver’s control like theft, vandalism, or natural disasters. While they can increase your insurance premium, the increase is usually modest compared to an at-fault accident. If you have ever wondered if a comprehensive claim will increase your insurance rate, the answer is yes – but most likely not as much as an at-fault accident would. 

Examples of comprehensive claims include:

  • Non-collision events
  • Car theft
  • Car vandalism
  • Car fire
  • A chipped or cracked windshield
  • Hitting an animal
  • Acts of nature

Because comprehensive claims are considered to be typically out of your control, some insurance companies might not raise your rate as much as they would if you had been at fault in the accident.

Claim Frequency and Severity

One of the key factors that influence insurance rates after a car accident is the frequency and severity of the claims made by an individual. Insurance companies track how often a driver has filed claims in the past. If a driver has a history of frequent claims, it may raise a red flag for insurers, as it suggests a higher likelihood of future accidents. Similarly, the severity of the claims matters, as more severe accidents indicate a higher risk of expensive payouts for the insurer.

Insurance companies use actuarial data and statistical models to assess the likelihood of a policyholder filing future claims based on their claim history. Drivers with a higher probability of making claims are often considered higher risk and, consequently, face higher insurance premiums.

Telematics and Usage-Based Insurance

Advancements in technology have revolutionized the insurance industry, particularly with the introduction of telematics and usage-based insurance (UBI). Telematics refers to the collection of real-time driving data through devices installed in vehicles, while UBI policies use this data to calculate insurance premiums based on actual driving behavior.

After an accident, some insurance companies may offer policyholders the option to enroll in telematics or UBI programs. By participating, drivers can potentially prove that they are safe and responsible on the road, which may lead to more personalized and lower insurance rates. On the flip side, those who continue to exhibit risky driving habits may experience premium increases.

Policyholder’s Age and Location


The age of the policyholder and their location can also have a significant impact on how car accidents affect insurance rates. Younger drivers, especially teenagers, are statistically more likely to be involved in accidents compared to older, more experienced drivers. As a result, insurance premiums for young drivers tend to be higher. Conversely, older drivers with a long history of safe driving may enjoy lower rates.

Additionally, the geographical location plays a crucial role. Areas with higher traffic density and more accidents are considered higher risk, leading to increased insurance costs for residents in those regions. Similarly, places prone to extreme weather conditions or natural disasters can also experience higher premiums due to the increased likelihood of filing comprehensive claims.

Final Thoughts 

Car accidents undoubtedly have a significant impact on insurance rates. Factors such as accident forgiveness, driving history, at-fault vs. no-fault accidents, and comprehensive claims all play a role in determining how much premiums may increase after an incident. Additionally, claim frequency and severity are vital aspects considered by insurance companies to assess a driver’s risk profile. 

The emergence of telematics and usage-based insurance has offered a more personalized approach to pricing, allowing safer drivers to potentially enjoy more affordable coverage. As such, it’s essential for drivers to remain vigilant on the roads, maintain a clean driving record, and explore various insurance options to find the most suitable coverage for their needs and budget.