What Is Accident Forgiveness for Car Insurance?
Accident forgiveness is a catchy and attractive term that many auto insurance providers use in their advertisements. But is it really worth it? What exactly does accident forgiveness do, and how much will it cost you?
Accident forgiveness is an auto insurance feature or add-on that generally prevents your insurance rates from going up if you cause an accident. Each insurer handles this differently. For example, with Liberty Mutual, you’re automatically eligible for accident forgiveness on your first accident if you’ve been accident- and violation-free for five years (with any insurance company). On the other hand, Nationwide requires you to purchase accident forgiveness as a separate add-on. On average, companies that charge for accident forgiveness tack on an additional 2% to 9% of your insurance premium.
Car Insurance Companies With Accident Forgiveness
Many of the top auto insurance providers offer accident forgiveness in some form to their customers. Because companies handle this feature differently, it’s important to compare rates before settling on one — accident forgiveness may not be worth it if your monthly premium is sky-high. If this feature is important to you, you may want to start gathering quotes from the companies below that offer it:
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How Accident Forgiveness Works
If you cause an accident, your insurance rate will almost always go up. The amount will depend on the type of accident and the severity of damage caused, although the average rate increase is $566 per year. With accident forgiveness, it’s possible that you could avoid this expense altogether.
To be eligible for accident forgiveness, you typically need to have a good credit score and a clean driving record. If you’ve gotten a ticket or caused an accident in the past few years, your insurer might still give you accident forgiveness coverage, but your chances of being accepted are lower. Additionally, some accidents — particularly those that may cost your insurer thousands of dollars — may not qualify.
The way you pay for accident forgiveness depends on the insurer. The Progressive accident forgiveness program requires you to enroll in the Loyalty Rewards Program to receive benefits, while USAA may offer accident forgiveness for free after five years without an accident. However, in many cases, insurers raise your premium if you want to add accident forgiveness — so it may not be worth the extra cost if you have a spotless driving history.
Limitations to Accident Forgiveness Coverage
Even though accident forgiveness sounds like a great deal at face value, there are a few caveats. The majority of accident forgiveness plans only protect you from a direct increase in your premiums; there are a few ways your insurer can still penalize you for an accident, even if you have accident forgiveness.
For example, accident forgiveness doesn’t prevent your insurer from dropping you if you prove to be too high-risk of a driver. Additionally, insurers might impose a limit of only one forgiveness per policy, not per driver. And since forgiveness won’t totally erase your accident history, you could lose discounts you were previously getting from your insurer for being a safe driver — causing your premium to rise, regardless.
Some insurers also place limits on which types of accidents do and don’t qualify for accident forgiveness: You might not be eligible if the accident you cause leads to extremely costly bodily injury or property damage. Before adding accident forgiveness to your policy, it’s worth doing some research; coverage and limitations vary from company to company.
Is Accident Forgiveness Worth It?
In short, accident forgiveness is not as cut-and-dried as it appears. Free accident forgiveness coverage is undoubtedly a great feature, but it may not be worth it to pay for the feature if you have a totally clean driving record. If you have a history of accidents or if you have young teen drivers on your policy, an accident forgiveness plan might be worth it if you can find an insurer that will offer you a decent rate. Just make sure you understand the limitations of the policy. The best way to decide if accident forgiveness is right for you is to shop around with different insurers to determine the best rate you can get on a forgiveness policy.