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  • Writer's pictureBrad Keating

How Long Does a Car Accident Stay on Your Record?

Updated: Jan 17

Getting car insurance is one of the most important things drivers must do to protect themselves in cases of severe car accidents. One of the most common factors drivers keep an eye out for is car insurance rates (or car insurance premiums). While a person's car insurance premium mostly depends on the insurance company, there are some factors that may affect how much the insurance premiums are.

Car accidents are an event that can significantly impact a driver's insurance rates. Even if the accident wasn't the victim's fault, they may still have to deal with taking a hit on their driving record. Considering vehicle accidents are most likely going to impact the victim's driving record, the second question most drivers ask themselves is "How long does the accident stay on my record?"

The answer to the question mentioned above depends on the accident type, the car insurance company the drivers are working with, and some other factors that are going to be covered in this article. Regardless of the scenario, vehicle owners who experience an accident must talk to a top vehicle accident lawyer to receive more information regarding how insurance companies work so that they can assess what to do in case of an accident that affects their driving record.

In these cases, the Keating Firm LTD has a legal team ready to help drivers assess any situation they may be experiencing with higher car insurance rates after an accident. While some of these driver record hits are unavoidable, it's still vital to know that they can get removed after some time.

How Long Does an Accident Affect Car Insurance?

How Long Does an Accident Affect Car Insurance?

Generally speaking, both at-fault and not-at-fault drivers may expect their car insurance rates to rise. The amount of time these drivers may expect their insurance rates to get affected depends on how the accident stays on their record.

Checking DMV Reports

One of the best things drivers can do after an accident is check with their state's DMV. A local DMV can give drivers a brief summary (often called "DMV Report") regarding their auto insurance and how much time their accident may stay on their driving record.

According to studies made by, drivers who are in an at-fault accident involving personal injury or property damage may expect up to a 34% increase in their car insurance rates. Still, there are some ways people can reduce the financial impact these accidents have on their driving record, which are going to be covered further in this article.

Determining Who Was at Fault for the Accident

One of the most important things insurance companies use to determine how much a driver's insurance rates for their motor vehicles is evaluating who was at fault for the accident. If the driver was at least 50% at fault for the accident, they may expect their insurance premium to increase (in case of a minor accident).

However, if the driving offense was too severe, the at-fault driver may expect their car insurance to increase a lot since they may be labeled as a high-risk driver.

How Long May Accidents Stay on the Driver's Driving Record?

Losing a clean driving record can be one of the most overwhelming experiences for any driver. Even if the not-at-fault drivers have a great driving history, they may get a considerable hit to their car insurance rates if an accident were to happen.

Car accidents - by themselves - are considered traumatic experiences that no one wants to go through. These accidents involve physical and emotional trauma, and victims must deal with several different things before regaining their normal lives. One of the most important things to consider after having an accident is getting enough insurance coverage to cover medical bills and lost wages. However, if the victim's insurance coverage premium increases after the accident, they may have some problems dealing with those extra fees.

How Insurance Companies Work

Generally speaking, the amount of time an accident stays in a driving record depends on the insurance company. Even the cheapest car insurance companies take a person's driving record seriously since it can determine how much they can charge for their auto insurance premium. The more severe the accident was, the more likely insurance carriers are to increase their premiums.

How Do Governments Track Accidents?

Most people wonder how each state works to track each violation regarding motor vehicles. Some states use a point system that tracks accidents depending on how severe they were; a serious driving offense can translate to more negative points toward a driver's driving record, leading many insurance companies to raise their premiums for such insurance product.

As many may have guessed by now, the number of points the driver has can determine how much the accident stays on their driving record. The good news is that most drivers can check with their local DMV to see how long the car accident is going to affect their record, meaning they may have a better idea of what to say to the car insurance company when making an insurance claim.

What's the Average Time a Car Accident Can Stay on a Driving Record?

Overall, a car accident may stay on a driver's record anywhere from three to 13 years, depending on where the drivers live and how severe the accident was. The more accidents the driver has, the more likely their insurance provider is to increase their premium.

It's important to note that if the driver accumulates too many points after the accident occurred, not only the insurance providers may increase their rates, but the government may suspend the driver's license for a while. The following is a list of common traffic violations and their average length on a driver's record:

First Minor Accident

Possible accident forgiveness.

Minor Accident

Up to three years.

Hit and Run

Up to 10 years.


Up to 13 years.

How Does Accident Forgiveness Work for Not At-Fault and At-Fault Accidents?

Some insurance companies offer accident forgiveness, which is a nice thing to consider if the person has a clean record. Overall, accident forgiveness means that if a driver with a clean record gets into an accident, their insurance policies may not increase their premium since it's the first offense. Some of the companies that offer accident forgiveness include the following:

  • Liberty Mutual

  • State Farm

  • Allstate

  • The Hartford

  • Nationwide

  • Progressive

It's important to note that policy requirements are the sole responsibility of the issuing insurance carrier. This means that the driver must talk to their insurance company to know more about their insurance policy obligations, financial protection, and whether they offer accident forgiveness or not. Additionally, any decisions regarding the driver's insurance products must be made by the insurer underwriting the policy under the insurer's then-current criteria.

What Happens if the Car Accident Was the Driver's Fault?

Logically, an at-fault accident is going to be on the driver's record (unless the driver's insurance policy offers first accident forgiveness. Still, at-fault accidents tend to impact the driver's rates much more than a not-at-fault accident. As mentioned before, some companies, such as Liberty Mutual and State Farm offer forgiveness for these offenses.

Typically, drivers of motor vehicles may expect their insurance company to raise the rate up to 34%, depending on the accident type and how many claims they've filed recently. However, if the at-fault accident involved severe property damage, personal injuries and pain and suffering, the company may suspend some insurance products or the entire policy.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, a driver's insurance rate may often increase in correlation with their offenses. In these cases, the best thing the driver can do is be a better driver and talk to a legal expert to assess the best financial decisions they can make to secure their financial well-being.

Can the Insurance Company Increase Rates Even if the Accident Wasn't the Driver's Fault?

As unfortunate as it may sound, an accident may still appear on the driver's record even if it wasn't their fault. However, it may be possible for the victim to prevent these accidents to go into their record if they get a police report that states who the at-fault party was.

Still, some auto insurance companies may adjust their insurance policy for higher rates regardless of who was at fault. In most states, auto insurance businesses are allowed to increase their rates as much as they want. There are some exceptions, such as in California, where auto insurance businesses may not increase premiums for not-at-fault drivers.

Finally, insurance companies raise premiums for those who have a lot of at-fault accidents on their record and then have a not-at-fault accident, even if they provide a police report that proves they were only a victim.

Reducing Auto Insurance Rates After an Accident

One of the best ways to receive compensation after an accident is to ensure the auto insurance rates are not that high. Even if the company increases the driver's premium after an accident, there are some ways drivers can try to reduce their rates. Still, it would be best to talk to a legal professional to assess the drive's options thoroughly.

Some of the most common ways to reduce insurance rates include the following:

  • Purchasing insurance policies as a bundle

  • Comparing different insurance rates and going for the best insurer

  • Making the most out of insurance discounts

  • Increasing the driver's deductible

While people are free to try any of these methods, they may not ensure they're going to get a lower rate with the insurance company.

Purchasing Car Insurance with a Bad Driving Record

Logically, someone who has a poor driving record may have a lot of trouble finding an applicable insurance policy for them. While that doesn't mean that it's impossible for these drivers to find insurance, they may have limited options. In the case of people with only one offense, they may have an easier time finding an insurance company willing to cover their claims.

On the other hand, people with a driving record must go through a more extensive process to get an insurance company to cover them. Depending on the severity of the driver's record, the insurance company may choose to submit a statement of responsibility to the DMV. That statement shows the government that the driver covers at least the minimum requirements to have insurance in the state.

Is It Possible to Remove the "High-Risk Driver" Off a Policy?

As mentioned before, a high-risk driver is someone with many offenses in their driving record. While being placed in a high-risk category can significantly impact the driver's ability to get the insurance products advertised by the company, they may still remove that label.

In most states, drivers may have to keep a clean driving record for at least three years to get to a standard-risk label. It may be best for the driver to talk to a legal expert regarding how the traffic law works in their state so that they know what to do to be a standard-risk driver again.

Is It Necessary to Report Car Accidents?

Is It Necessary to Report Car Accidents?

Most states require drivers to report any accident the driver is involved in. There may be some cases in which the accident is not severe enough to require medical care or police reports. However, it's important to note that having a report sent to the DMV can often help if one of the drivers decides to take the case to court.

People who don't report accidents may be subject to lawsuits from the other party, which can potentially impact the driver's insurance rates. If the at-fault driver simply drives off from the scene of the accident, the police may take that as a Hit and Run, which can potentially damage their driving record.

Bottom Line

Car accidents are complicated to handle, especially when it comes to dealing with insurance companies. Thankfully, several insurance companies offer a wide range of services and options for drivers to consider.

As long as the driver tries their best to keep a clean record after having an accident, they may get it off the record in a shorter amount of time. The best way to know what options the driver has is to talk to a legal professional to help them with their case. Overall, the Keating Firm LTD has all the tools necessary to provide clients with the right legal help, making it a great option for those who just got into an accident.


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