How long does a car accident stay on your record?
That’s not the answer you want to hear, eh? Well, you actually asked the wrong question. You shouldn’t be asking how long an accident stays on your record, but rather how long an accident affects your insurance rates.
Now we’re talking…
Generally, if you have had just one at-fault accident and the rest of your record is clear, you will get accident forgiveness or, at least, partial accident forgiveness. That means that the first accident will not affect your rates or it will affect your rates just a little.
Most people get confused about accident forgiveness. They think that if an accident is forgiven, that it won’t go on their record. It does. All accidents do. Accident forgiveness just means that the insurance company is not counting it against your rates.
Now, if you are getting accident forgiveness, be very very careful – That forgiveness only lasts for as long as your policy lasts. If you cancel the policy and then try to set up a new one, even if it’s with the same insurance company, you lose the accident forgiveness and will have to pay more – sometimes a lot more. So, it’s best not to cancel the policy.
How long does an accident affect your rates?
Back to the original question – How long does an accident affect your rates? If you are not getting forgiveness, your insurance rate will be partially based on a star-rating system. Star-rating, basically, is based on how many years you’ve been accident free. So, for example, if you have not had an at-fault accident in three years, you would be rated a 3-star, if you have not had an at-fault accident in 6-years, you’d be rated a 6-star, and so on. The higher the star rating, the lower your rates. The longer you go without an at-fault accident, the lower your rates. Usually, after about ten years, accidents do not affect your rate anymore.
Is it clearer now? If not, give me a call and I’d be happy to discuss your particular situation.
Oh and by the way, Accidents go on an insurance database called Autoplus. Autoplus shows your insurance history and your claims. Claims stay there forever.