How Does a Car Accident Affect Your Car Insurance?

Julian Dossett
Julian Dossett

Getting into a car accident usually increases your insurance premium. Once a car wreck is on your driving record, your insurance provider will view you as higher risk to insure. If the provider is taking on more risk, they generally want more money.

But how much your premium goes up depends on the state where you live, what the incident was and other factors. We’ll go through what a car accident will cost you through the average premium increase in each state, as well as what the average increase is for each major provider. Then we’ll run through what to consider with insurance after an accident.

How Much Will My Insurance Go Up After an Accident by State?

Wondering how much does insurance go up after an accident? Whatever state you live in, the average annual premium increases after one at-fault accident. But how much the premium goes up varies quite a bit depending on the state. 

Premium costs are determined by complex equations that draw on a number of factors, such as car make and model and personal driving history. But all insurance costs are heavily regulated by state laws, which determine how much providers can charge people for insurance.  

StateAverage annual premium with clean driving history*Average annual premium with one at-fault accident*Difference
New Hampshire$1,275$1,59625%
New Jersey$1,757$2,61749%
New Mexico$1,419$1,89634%
New York$2,321$2,4506%
North Carolina$1,325$1,93346%
North Dakota$1,264$1,76239%
Rhode IslandNo dataNo dataNo data
South Carolina$1,512$2,12541%
South Dakota$1,642$2,09027%
Washington, D.C.$1,855$2,3738%
West Virginia$1,499$2,11742%

*Full Coverage

Data as of 1/11/22 provided by

How Much Will My Insurance Go Up After an Accident by Provider? 

The increase in your premium after an accident also varies by insurance provider. Each insurance provider has developed their own formula for how insurance rates should be calculated, which is why rates change from insurer to insurer.

ProviderNo Accident*1 Accident*Difference
State Farm$1,457$1,65714%
American Family$1,911$2,16113%

*Full Coverage

Data as of 1/11/22 provided by

What If the Accident Wasn’t Your Fault?

Even if you weren’t at fault, an accident on your record can still increase your premium. Car insurance providers commonly increase policyholders’ rates after they’re in a car wreck, regardless of who’s to blame. 

However, many providers have “accident forgiveness” included in their policies. You may need to be accident-free for a certain amount of time before you qualify for accident forgiveness. When you sign up for a new policy, make sure to ask if accident forgiveness is included and how to qualify for it.

Which Claims Increase Your Rates the Most?

Most claims have at least some effect on your premium. But a few incidents have the ability to make your premium cost skyrocket. Let’s look at some of the most costly car insurance claims. 

  • Drunk driving — If you get in an accident and alcohol is involved, the consequences are severe. Aside from the legal jeopardy of drunk driving, many car insurance companies will drop the driver from their insurance. If the providers allow the driver to keep their insurance, the premium rate will be high. All claims involving drunk driving should be reported. 
  • At-fault accident that injures driver — All at-fault accidents increase your insurance rates, but if a driver is injured, the rates could be even higher. Claims should generally be filed if someone is injured in a car wreck.
  • At-fault accident that totals car — If a car is totaled in an accident, the person at fault will have a much higher premium afterward. If your car is totaled in an accident, you should report a claim.
  • Uninsured driver — If someone who’s not insured to drive a car gets into an accident with that car, then the policyholder’s premium will increase quite a bit. If you get in a wreck with another person who isn’t authorized to drive, you should file a claim. 

How to Get a Lower Rate After an Accident

After an accident, you’ll probably experience a rate increase in your car insurance. But there are a few things you can do to reduce the cost of insurance. With time, you may be able to lower your premium back to its previous rate. 

  • Step 1: Adjust your coverages — If your premium is no longer affordable after an accident, you can always lower the coverage in your policy to reduce your costs. However, you will be less protected in your policy if you lower your coverage.
  • Step 2: Find a different provider — Some car insurance providers cater their services to drivers with spotty driving records. If your current insurance is too expensive after a car accident, getting quotes from different providers might help you find a lower rate.
  • Step 3: Check for discounts — You might qualify for a discount that will lower the cost of your policy. It’s a good idea to check with your provider to see what discounts are available.
  • Step 4: Improve your credit — Your personal credit is commonly one of the factors providers consider when pricing your individual policy. If you can improve your credit, then it might net you a lower premium. 

How Long Does an Accident Stay on Your Record?

How long an accident stays on your driving record depends on the state. Most states allow an accident to remain on your record for 3-5 years. However, this only applies to some accidents. If you’re charged with a DWI or reckless driving during an accident, then it could remain on your record for a decade or more.

FAQs about Car Insurance After an Accident

About the Authors

Julian is a tech and finance writer, covering stories from artificial intelligence to cryptocurrency. He lives with his wife in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Whenever he has a day off, Julian can be found at Isotopes Stadium watching the ballgame.