How long Will an Accident Stay on my Record?

Accidents stink. If the accident was your fault or classified as "no-fault," the accident itself is just the beginning of your worries. Now you have a tainted record and increasing insurance rates in addition to dealing with car repairs.

Exactly how long will the accident stay on your driving record? The short answer is three years.

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However, insurance companies and policies will vary on how they look at accidents. Most will keep them on your driving record for three years from the date of the accident or violation.

Yes, traffic violations can have the same effect on your driving record as an accident. The exact "punishment" will depend on several factors:

  1. Your insurance company
  2. The severity of the accident or violation
  3. How long you have been with your provider and your driving record
  4. The cost of the damages
  5. Where you live
  6. How old you are

Will an accident raise my insurance rates?

Many assume that because they were in an accident or received a traffic violation, their rates will go up and there's nothing they can do about it. Think again. There are a few things you can do to keep your rate from going up, but it all depends on your previous violations, where you live, and how severe the violation or accident was.

Here are some ways to keep your rates from going up.

  1. If you have received a traffic violation, you can take a defensive driving course. If you have never taken one before, many courts will remove the ticket from your record but your eligibility will depend on your past record and the court's final decision.
  2. If you have been thinking about adding another policy to your insurance plan, this would be a good time to add it and take advantage of a multi-policy discount. Sure, you are paying more, but you're also getting more insurance and hopefully keeping your auto insurance the same.
  3. Raise your deductible as a way to control costs for a temporary period of time. In this scenario, you can lower your coverage in an effort to keep the costs the same assuming your rate WOULD HAVE gone up. However, the risk is that you're out more cash should you get into another accident since the deductible will be higher.

Insurance companies are in the business of managing risk. If you get into an accident that was your fault (or no-fault) or drive recklessly and get a traffic violation, you've proved to be a greater risk to insure. Therefore, your rates will most likely increase for the three year period.

Remember, various insurance companies and policies will treat traffic violations and accidents differently. Be sure to consult a professional if you have further questions about your rates and how long an accident will stay on your record.

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