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Car insurance rates can go up 53% a year on average if you cause an accident, NerdWallet’s analysis found.
But if you switch to the cheapest insurer in your state, you may find better rates.
The bottom line: To get cheap car insurance after an accident, it's time to shop around.
An accident affects your car insurance rates for three to five years on average, although this varies by state and company. Even if it was a minor crash, insurers perceive you as a greater risk and will almost always increase your rates.
To give you a better idea of how much more you’ll pay after an accident, NerdWallet compared average car insurance rates nationwide for 40-year-old drivers with a recent at-fault crash and those with no recent accidents, keeping all other factors the same. We used full coverage insurance policies for a 2018 Toyota Camry and a hypothetical accident that resulted in $10,000 worth of property damage and no injuries.
Our analysis found that:
See how your state fares.
Car insurance companies have wildly different viewpoints on how much to raise rates due to a crash. In some states, a few companies in our analysis didn’t charge more after a small accident.
At the other extreme, we found several companies with rates more than twice as high for a driver who’d caused an accident than for an identical driver who hadn’t. And in a few cases, average rates were more than $1,900 a year higher after an at-fault accident.
That’s why, to get cheap car insurance after an accident, it’s essential to from several companies.
State Farm, Geico, Progressive and Allstate, the nation’s, together make up more than half of the auto insurance market. The fifth-largest car insurance company, USAA, is available only to active military members, veterans and their families.
To see how they price policies after at-fault accidents, we looked at average rates across 48 states and Washington, D.C., where all four companies have a significant presence.
State Farm returned the lowest average rates for drivers who’d caused an accident, as well as for drivers who had not, and also showed the smallest percentage increase in rates between drivers with a clean record and those with a recent crash.
For drivers who qualify, USAA frequently has the lowest rates we found both before and after an accident. But in some cases, USAA is no longer the cheapest option once a driver has caused an accident. In Alaska, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Dakota and Wisconsin, for example, USAA is cheapest for drivers with a clean record, but other companies return the lowest rates after an at-fault crash.
So if you’re insured with USAA and you get in an accident, it’s smart to compare car insurance rates.
Shopping around after an accident is the best way to ensure you are getting the cheapest rate, and our analysis shows why:
Shopping around is the best way to find the cheapest rate, but there are other ways to ensure you are getting the lowest rate possible. You may be able to lower the rates on your current policy by:
If you weren’t to blame for an accident, you might see an increase in your auto insurance rate anyway. A study by the Consumer Federation of America found that some companies raise rates 10% or more for not-at-fault accidents.
In the 12 , everyone involved in an accident files a claim to their own insurer for injuries. Because of this, residents of those states are more likely to see rate increases after an accident no matter who is at fault.
If you have on your policy and this is your first accident, it’s likely that your rate won’t go up. And a few states, including Oklahoma and California, don’t allow insurers to increase your rates if a crash was not your fault. Some companies, such as USAA, even say they won’t raise rates if you aren’t responsible for an accident.
But regardless of whether the accident is your fault, it’s always a good idea to compare to make sure you’re getting the lowest price.
If you have multiple accidents or other serious marks on your record, it could be hard to get car insurance.
If no one will sell you a policy, you may need to look for a state-run assigned risk plan. To find your state’s high-risk insurance pool, in the directory of the Automobile Insurance Plan Service Office, an industry organization, or ask your auto insurance agent for help.
NerdWallet averaged rates based on public filings obtained by pricing analytics company Quadrant Information Services. We examined rates for 40-year-old men and women for all ZIP codes in any of the 50 states and Washington, D.C. Although it’s one of the largest insurers in the country, Liberty Mutual is not included in our rates analysis due to a lack of publicly available information.
In our analysis, “good drivers” had no moving violations on record; a “good driving” discount was included for this profile. Our “good” and “poor” credit rates are based on credit score approximations and do not account for proprietary scoring criteria used by insurance providers. These are average rates, and your rate will vary based on your personal details, state and insurance provider.
Sample drivers had the following coverage limits:
In states where required, minimum additional coverages were added. For drivers with one at-fault crash, we added a single at-fault crash costing $10,000 in property damage.
We used a 2018 Toyota Camry LE in all cases and assumed 12,000 annual miles driven.