How Does Accident Forgiveness Work?

How Does Accident Forgiveness Work?

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Accident forgiveness is an insurance feature that protects drivers from more expensive car insurance rates after an accident. You can often add this feature as an optional rider, or you might qualify for free accident forgiveness after you've gone a few years without getting in accidents.

What is accident forgiveness?

Accident forgiveness means your car insurance rates won't go up if you cause a car crash.

Drivers who cause an accident may see a 33% increase in car insurance for the next three to five years, until the crash drops off their driving record. With accident forgiveness, you can avoid that insurance rate hike for causing a car crash.

When determining your rates, insurance companies consider many factors including your age, vehicle, location and driving history. Experienced drivers with clean driving records can qualify for substantial discounts and cheap annual rates. But a driver who causes an accident could simultaneously lose those discounts and face higher rates for being considered a risky driver.

How accident forgiveness works

For example, say you have a claims-free or safe driving discount and pay $1,000 per year for car insurance.

If you cause an accident, you would lose your discount for being a safe driver. Your insurance company would also likely charge you higher rates for having an accident claim on your driving record.

Rates typically go up automatically when you renew your policy, raising your cost to $1,665 for the next three to five years.

However, if you had accident forgiveness as a feature of your car insurance policy, your rate wouldn't increase for causing an accident. While you would still lose the accident-free discount, your insurer would not apply an additional increase to your rate for the recent accident.

Accident forgiveness conditions

  • Even if you have accident forgiveness, any accidents you cause will still show up on your driving record. If you switch to a different car insurance company within a few years of the collision, that accident may negatively impact your rates.
  • Accident forgiveness benefits usually only apply to one at-fault accident. After your accident forgiveness has been used, a second accident could increase your premiums.
  • If you qualified for accident forgiveness after years of accident-free driving, the clock resets after an accident. You'll need to bank another few years of safe driving to requalify for accident forgiveness again.
  • Some companies only let you use accident forgiveness once per policy.
  • Accident forgiveness is not offered by every insurance company and might not be available in every state.

How do I qualify for accident forgiveness?

Most companies require you to maintain several years of accident-free driving with that company before you can earn free accident forgiveness. Other companies let you purchase accident forgiveness as an upgrade when you start your policy.

Company
Buy or earn
Claim-free period
Availability
AllstateBuy3-5 yearsNot in every state
Farmers InsuranceBuy3 yearsIn all states
GeicoBuy or earn5 years. Must be over 21 in some statesNot in CA, CT or MA
Liberty MutualEarn5 years at any insurerNot in CA
NationwideBuyOne-time use. Covers one accident across all drivers on your policyNot in every state
ProgressiveBuy or earnFree small accident forgiveness for claims under $500. Buy or earn large accident forgiveness after 5 yearsNot in every state
TravelersBuy3-5 years. Covers one minor violation and one accidentNot in every state
ErieEarn3 yearsNot in every state
State FarmEarn9 yearsNot in every state
USAABuy or earn5 yearsNot in CA or NC. CT and DE may be subject to different rules.

Safe driving discounts like accident forgiveness

In addition to accident forgiveness, insurance companies offer several other benefits for drivers with clean driving records.

  • Accident-Free Discount: Some insurance companies, such as State Farm, offer a discount in certain states for remaining accident-free for three years. This discount may increase over time with a clean driving record.
  • Vanishing Deductible: For every year without an at-fault accident, your insurance company may lower your deductible a specified amount. For example, the standard deductible for Allstate drivers is $500. However, for each year you drive without an accident, Allstate may reduce your deductible by $100. So, if you have an accident after three years of safe driving, your deductible may be only $200.
  • Good Driving Discount: You'll typically see a discount on your quote or policy for avoiding tickets, accidents and claims. You could see it as a credit on future premiums.

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