Car Accidents: How Long Do They Stay On Your Insurance Record?

Getting in a car accident is one of the most traumatic things that could happen to a person. Not only can it lead to very serious injuries, but the accident affects you mentally and financially as well. Getting your car’s bumper caved in is the least of your worries. 

Have you wondered how long the effects of car accidents remain? The physical injuries will heal over time, perhaps in a year or two. But what about the effects of the accident on your driving and insurance record? How long do insurance companies and other institutions consider your past accidents? 

Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about car accidents and their impact on your insurance record. We’ll also look at the ways you can mitigate the impact of the accident on your driving record. 

Car accident record

Whenever you get in a car accident, and if it is reported to the authorities, the accident gets recorded. A detailed report of all your past accidents can be accessed either via the DMV of your state or by accessing the report from LexisNexis. 

Insurance companies also access this record either from the DMV or LexisNexis. Your driving record is an important factor in determining your car insurance rates. People with poor driving records have to pay higher insurance and premium rates. 

Traffic violations such as speeding tickets, rash driving, etc can increase your insurance rates, but not as bad as accidents. Accidents are the most impactful factors in driving records that affect your insurance rates, along with DUI charges.

How long accidents stay on insurance records

Accidents negatively affect your car insurance rates. So you must be thinking if you get in a car accident, how long will the effects last? The longevity of the effects of a car accident depends on the severity of the accident, the state you live in, and the car insurance company. 

The severity of the accident

Let’s start with the severity of the accident. Car accidents are not simple at all. They come in a spectrum. From minor fender benders to extreme ones where the car gets totalled, the type of accident determines its validity on the driving and insurance record. 

For example, a minor accident that just results in a scratch or a dented car will last on your insurance record for around 3 years. Getting a bit higher, some severe accidents such as dangerous accidents, etc can last up to 5 years. Extremely severe accidents result in the car’s total lasting up to 7 years. 

But some accidents are even more severe than the ones above. Accidents that happen due to driving under the influence or accidents that result in the death of someone are never erased from your driving record; they are permanent.  

DUI charges and accidents that result in death have the most negative impact on your insurance rates and it does not matter which state you live in or what auto insurance company you choose, nothing can counter the effects of these two types of accidents.

Auto insurance company

The car insurance company you choose is also crucial in determining your insurance rates based on the accidents on your driving record. For example, some insurance companies might take in several factors such as the severity of the accident, past insurance claims, etc. 

But some auto insurance companies just factor in all the accidents in the last 3 or 5 years while determining your rates. Some companies might consider all the accidents in the last 7 years, while some only look at the last 2 years.

From the data that we have gathered and analyzed, the average, in this case, is 4 years. This could be the reason why some insurance companies quote slightly different rates for auto insurance policies. 

The state you live in

Different states have different rules regarding car accident records. Since most insurance companies get your driving record from the DMV, the state’s laws play an important role in determining the price of the policy. 

For example, if you are a resident of Michigan, accidents can stay on your driving record for a long 7-year period. But, for other states like California or Wisconsin, accidents stay on your driving record for just 3 years. 

This is why you must search for car insurance policies specifically for your state. Different states have different insurance rates. So if you live in Wisconsin, make sure that you look for the best car insurance quotes in Wisconsin to find precise results. 

If you have had a car accident in the past 3 years, then the best way to save some money is by comparing all the different insurance companies. Choose the company that offers the lowest price hike, but also keep in mind that you should not compromise on the coverage for the price. 

It is very important to get the right car insurance policy with the proper coverage limit (always higher than the state’s minimum coverage limit). You do not want to end up paying thousands of dollars by being underinsured.

Policies affected

Not all accidents affect your car insurance rates. For example, if you get in an accident that was not your fault, this will not be in your driving record and would not affect your insurance rates. 

Similarly, accidents do not affect all insurance policies. For example, road accidents rarely create an impact on comprehensive insurance rates. Comprehensive coverage also called “parked car insurance” covers damages to your car while it is parked. 

Since this has nothing to do with how you drive, accidents on your driving record will not affect the rate of the comprehensive insurance policy. You can also get an accident forgiveness add-on to prevent your insurance rates from going up. But the better and smarter approach is to drive safely, follow the traffic rules, and stay insured.