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How long does an accident stay on my record?

By SmartCoverage Team on July 24th, 2018

If you find yourself caught up in a fender bender there are a lot of worries in the immediate aftermath, including costs incurred from damages or any injuries. Unfortunately, in most cases the costs do not end there, and many people find themselves confused and worried about how the accident will impact their insurance in the future.

How can an accident affect my insurance?

If you find yourself as the at-fault driver in a collision it could impact your insurance rates anywhere from six to ten years. If the accident you are involved in results in a traffic ticket, this will stay on your driving record for three years from the date of conviction. Chances are, if you are found to be liable for the incident, you'll see your premium to increase, and it could stay that way for the full term the incident stays on your record, however some insurers will gradually decrease this added cost on an annual basis.

Insurance companies can raise your premium anywhere from 6% to 140% depending on the nature and severity of an incident.  Immediately after the incident you will also be expected to pay your agreed upon deductible.

Unfortunately, if a new insurer is checking your driving history, it is likely that your accident will be flagged for the next ten years, which may impact any premium offerings.

The longer you remain claim free after you accident, the more likely it is you will see your heightened rates lowering again.

Why do accidents stay on your driving record?

Insurers determine how much you pay for your insurance based on risk factors-typically these include age, where you live, the make and model of the car you drive and your driving history. It is no surprise then that any collision or accident you are involved in will become a big mark on your driving history. An insurer will then look at you as more of a liability, since you have already had to make a claim for an accident in the past.

However, this is not true for all claims. Certain auto claims for theft, vandalism, or fire are unlikely to affect premium rates.

Can I avoid my accident being listed on my driving history?

If you find yourself involved in an accident it's recommended that you notify your insurance company as soon as possible. If the incident isn’t your fault, it is unlikely that it will impact your premium. However, if you are found to be the liable party, your insurance will be used to pay the bills for both your car’s damage and that of the other party, including any medical treatment that may be incurred.

The rate at which your premiums increase will be linked with how serious the incident is. Some people decide to pay for the damages themselves in the wake of an incident, instead of involving their insurance company, and should you pursue this avenue then you may not see any changes in your premium. However, if the other party decides to file a claim through their insurance, and you are the at-fault driver, then this will be reported back to your insurer and your premiums may rise-this is why it is crucial you are honest with your insurer.

Some companies allow for one at-fault claim and might not increase your premiums; this is usually in relation to how good your driving history is.


Every insurance company has their own policy and it is best to speak directly with your insurer to find out their specific regulations. If you are unhappy with the service provided by your insurer, then do some research and see what other insurance options are out there.

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