How Long Does An Accident Stay On Your Insurance?

Updated October, 2020
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An accident (whether at-fault or not) stays on your insurance report for 3 years. Some insurance companies allow you to apply for accident forgiveness. If not, you wait for this duration of time before your driving record is cleared. Alternatively, ask the DMV to expunge your record by taking multiple good drivers courses.

How does an accident affect my driving record?  

Not-at-fault accidents, at-fault accidents and driving tickets are events that go down on your driving record. Having an unstable driving record leads to an increase in insurance premiums.

Typically, it takes 3 years for the offense to fall off and for you to regain a clear record. However, if you have accident forgiveness, then your first accident goes unnoticed by your insurance company and your rates don't increase.  

How does my first minor accident or ticket affect my auto insurance premium?

Minor violations, such as driving with an expired insurance sticker, or getting a speeding ticket for going 5 mph over the speeding limit, may be omitted by your insurance company.

If you're caught going a significant amount over the speeding limit or cause damage to another vehicle, it gets notated on your record.

In these cases, it takes the standard 3 years to clear, and your premium rises until your record is clear again. The amount it rises depends on your age, vehicle type, location, and how long you have previously maintained a clean driving record.  

How do multiple accidents affect my auto insurance premium?

You start to see a big rise in your insurance rates once you've accumulated a subsequent amount of speeding tickets or a list of many small accidents on your record.  

Speeding tickets: Speeding tickets count as an accident and go on your record. The more tickets that you collect, the higher your rates rise per ticket collected.  

At-fault accidents: When it comes to having many accidents, your record is greatly affected. The more frequently you are making claims, the more your insurance rates start to skyrocket.  

Do I pay less on increased rates if I have never been in in an accident before?

The percentage that your insurance premium rises depends on your particular situation.

For example, a young driver who has made many violations pays more than a 60-year-old who has previously had a clean driving record.  

After maintaining a clean driving record for more than 5 years, your insurance company doesn't charge you as much of an increased rate as somebody who has made consistent accident claims over 5 years.    

It is also worthwhile to note that in certain states accidents caused by drunk driving stay on your record. In these states, you indefinitely pay in increased auto insurance rate.

How do I clear my driving record?

Here are methods for you to clean your driving record:

  • Go 3 years without an accident:  Go a minimum of 3 years without having an accident or making a claim. This is one of the most obvious ways to clear your driving record of an accident. It shows your insurers that your driving safety has improved.  
  • Request clearance at the DMV: Pull your driving record from the DMV website and visit into your state's DMV to ask if you meet the requirements to have your violations expunged. If you qualify, you're given a request form to fill out. Once your request is accepted you pay a fee and your driving record is cleared.  
  • Take a driver's safety course: Certain driving courses remove points from your driving record. Check your state to see which courses can lower your driving score. The completion of these courses assists in the clearance of your driving record.  

Be sure to compare all your providers and consider the increased rate of each quote.  

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