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Full coverage car insurance rates can go up an average of 47% a year 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.
How an accident affects your car insurance rates
An accident affects your car insurance rates for at least three years, although this varies by state and insurance provider. Even if it was a minor crash, insurers perceive you as a greater risk and will almost always increase your rates.
NerdWallet did an analysis to see how much more drivers pay for car insurance after an accident. We compared average car insurance rates nationwide for 35-year-old drivers with a recent at-fault crash to those with no recent accidents, keeping all other factors the same. We used full coverage insurance policies for a 2020 Toyota Camry and a hypothetical accident that resulted in $10,000 worth of property damage and no injuries.
Type of policy
One at-fault accident
Our analysis found that:
Nationwide, a driver with an at-fault accident pays $1,016 more a year on average for a full-coverage policy than a driver with no traffic violations.
In Washington, D.C. and all states except Rhode Island, average annual rates were more than $500 higher for drivers who’d caused a recent accident than for those who had not.
In 10 states, average rates increased at least 50% after an at-fault accident.
In Michigan, Florida, New Jersey and Texas, average rates increased by more than $1,500 per year after an at-fault accident.
However, these are based on average rates. Your rate may differ depending on factors like your age, location and insurer.
» MORE: Average car insurance costs
Cheap car insurance after an accident by company
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 companies with rates more than twice as high for a driver who’d caused an accident compared to an identical driver who hadn’t. And in a couple cases, average rates were more than $3,000 a year higher after an at-fault accident.
That’s why it’s essential to compare car insurance rates from several companies to find cheap auto insurance after an accident
State Farm, Geico, Progressive and Allstate, the nation’s four largest car insurance companies, 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 the largest insurers price policies after at-fault accidents, we looked at average rates across 44 states and Washington, D.C., where we have rates for all four of the largest companies.
State Farm returned the lowest average rates for drivers who’d caused an accident, as well as for drivers who had not. The company also showed the smallest percentage increase in rates between drivers with a clean record and those with a recent crash.
Average rates from the biggest auto insurers after an at-fault crash
Company ranked by average % increase
Average rate before an accident
Average rate after an accident
1. State Farm
*USAA is only available to military, veterans and their families.
For drivers who qualify, USAA frequently has some of 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, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Wisconsin, for example, USAA is cheapest for drivers with a clean record, but other companies return the lowest rates for drivers with an at-fault crash.
So whether you’re insured with USAA or another company, it’s smart to compare car insurance rates after an accident.
Cheap car insurance after an accident by state
Wondering which companies are the most likely to offer cheap car insurance after a crash? Find your state below to see the cheapest car insurance rates after an accident on average based on where you live.
Average annual rate after an accident
Southern Farm Bureau Casualty
Farm Bureau Financial Services
Missouri Farm Bureau
Main Street America
North Carolina Farm Bureau
American Farmers & Ranchers
Tennessee Farm Bureau
Redpoint County Mutual
To find the cheapest insurer after a crash in each state, NerdWallet’s analysis looked at full coverage rates for all ZIP codes in all 50 states and Washington D.C. for a 35-year-old driver with good credit and a recent at-fault accident. Although USAA is the cheapest option in many states, we didn’t include the company in this table since its policies are available only to active military members, veterans and their families.
It’s possible to get a lower rate after an accident
Shopping around after an accident is the best way to ensure you are getting the cheapest rate, and our analysis shows why:
Shopping for the cheapest car insurance after a crash could save you big. Our analysis shows that shopping for the cheapest possible rate after a crash could potentially save you thousands a year, depending on your state and insurer.
No single car insurance company is cheapest for everyone. Across all 50 states and Washington, D.C., 26 different insurers tied for the cheapest option after an accident.
The cheapest insurer before an accident may not be the cheapest afterward. In over a third of the states we looked at, some drivers who were insured with the cheapest company available would need to switch insurers to continue getting the lowest possible rates after an accident.
Big-name insurance companies aren’t always cheapest. Although the nation’s ten largest car insurance companies together account for around 75% of the car insurance market, smaller companies returned the lowest rates after an accident in 34 states and Washington, D.C. A state’s Farm Bureau insurance, for example, showed the lowest rates after an at-fault crash in five states. Some smaller insurers are available in only a few states.
» MORE: Compare car insurance rates
How to find cheap car insurance after an accident
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:
Raising your deductible, which is the amount reduced from a potential claim check from comprehensive or collision insurance. This will cause a greater out-of-pocket cost to repair your own car if you get into an accident in the future.
Adding discounts to your policy could help offset the increase in your rate from the accident. Check with your insurer or agent to see if any more are available to you.
Improving your credit. While improving credit is a long-term strategy, a healthy credit report will likely result in a more affordable car insurance rate in most states.
» MORE: Cheapest car insurance companies
Do insurance rates go up after a no-fault accident?
If you weren’t to blame for an accident, you might see an increase in your auto insurance rate anyway. A 2017 study by the Consumer Federation of America, the most recent data available, found that some companies raise rates 10% or more for not-at-fault accidents.
In no-fault states, everyone involved in an accident files a claim to their own insurer for injuries. Because of this, residents of those states may see rate increases after an accident, no matter who is at fault.
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 usually won’t raise rates if you aren’t responsible for an accident.
But regardless of whether the accident was your fault, it’s always a good idea to compare car insurance quotes to make sure you’re getting the lowest price.
Can I keep my car insurance rate from going up after a crash?
If you have accident forgiveness on your policy and this is your first accident, it’s likely that your rate won’t go up. Accident forgiveness is an optional coverage type many insurers offer that prevents your car insurance premium from increasing after your first accident.
This coverage typically costs extra, but some insurers offer free accident forgiveness to drivers who have gone without an accident for a certain period, often around five years.
Alternative car insurance for high-risk drivers
If you have multiple accidents or other serious marks on your record, you may be classified as a high-risk driver. High-risk drivers generally have a harder time finding coverage because they are considered risky to insure.
If no one will sell you a policy, you may need to look for a state-run assigned risk plan. To find an insurer, locate your state in the directory of the Automobile Insurance Plan Service Office, an industry organization, or ask your auto insurance agent for help. This is considered a “high-risk insurance pool,” in which the state assigns an insurer to you.
NerdWallet averaged rates based on public filings obtained by pricing analytics company Quadrant Information Services. We examined rates for men and women for all ZIP codes in all 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:
$100,000 bodily injury liability coverage per person.
$300,000 bodily injury liability coverage per crash.
$50,000 property damage liability coverage per crash.
$100,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage per person.
$300,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage per crash.
Collision coverage with $1,000 deductible.
Comprehensive coverage with $1,000 deductible.
In states where required, minimum additional coverages were added. We used the same assumptions for all other driver profiles, with the following exceptions:
For drivers with minimum coverage, we adjusted the numbers above to reflect only the minimum coverage required by law in the state.
We changed the credit tier from “good” to “poor” as reported to the insurer to see rates for drivers with poor credit. In states where credit isn’t taken into account, we only used rates for “good credit.”
For drivers with one at-fault crash, we added a single at-fault crash costing $10,000 in property damage.
For drivers with a DUI, we added a single drunken-driving violation.
For drivers with a ticket, we added a single speeding violation for driving 16 mph over the speed limit.
We used a 2020 Toyota Camry L in all cases and assumed 12,000 annual miles driven. We analyzed rates for drivers of the following ages: 20, 30, 35, 40, 50, 60 and 70.
These are rates generated through Quadrant Information Services. Your own rates will be different.