If you have accident forgiveness insurance and cause a crash, your insurer will not increase your rates at renewal time. With other policies, you may face a rate increase, called a surcharge, if you cause an accident.
Here are some other important things to know about accident forgiveness:
- Not all car insurance companies offer accident forgiveness.
- Accident forgiveness is not an unlimited pass. It typically applies to one accident per policy, not one accident per driver.
- The "forgiven" accident stays on your driving record. The "forgiveness" is only for car insurance rates from your current insurer. The accident will be on your motor vehicle record, and other insurance companies can see the record of it if you decide to get price quotes and switch companies.
Do you pay extra for accident forgiveness?
You'll usually pay extra for accident forgiveness. But some insurers such as Geico offer it as a free perk to certain customers.
Not all accidents can lead to surcharge. Typically "chargeable" accidents are ones you cause. Here's a common list used within the insurance industry of accidents that are not chargeable.
- Your car was lawfully parked at the time.
- You were reimbursed for damage by the person responsible, or you have a judgment against that person.
- You were rear-ended by another vehicle and you did not receive a moving violation associated with the accident.
- The other driver was convicted of a moving violation and you were not.
- Your car was in a hit-and-run and you reported it to the proper authorities within 24 hours.
- The damage was caused by contact with animals or fowl.
- The damage was caused by flying gravel, missiles or falling objects.
- The accident happened when you were responding to an emergency and you are a paid or volunteer member of a police department, fire department, first aid squad or law enforcement agency.
Do you qualify for accident forgiveness?
Not everyone qualifies. If you or another driver on your policy caused an accident in the last three to five years, you may not qualify for accident forgiveness.
The number of years an insurance company looks at your driving history can depend on your state. For example, If you cause a car accident in states like New Jersey, New York or Texas, insurance companies can surcharge you for only accidents from the past three years. If you cause an accident in states like Massachusetts, insurance companies can review your driving record from the past five years.
Which auto insurance companies have accident forgiveness?
Below are examples of accident forgiveness programs from some of the largest insurance companies. Keep in mind, your insurer might not offer accident forgiveness programs in your state. California does not allow any insurer to offer it.
Allstate accident forgiveness is an add-on that will cost extra. You have the option to enroll in accident forgiveness when you start your Allstate policy.
Farmers Insurance accident forgiveness forgives one at-fault accident for every three years you drive without one.
Geico accident forgiveness offers both free and premium options. If you haven't had an accident for five years, you'll qualify for free accident forgiveness. If you opt for premium accident forgiveness, you can purchase it when you buy your policy or when you renew. Both free and premium accident forgiveness apply only to the first accident on the policy, not per driver.
Liberty Mutual accident forgiveness costs extra and is available if you haven't had an accident or moving violation in the past five years. It forgives the first accident.
Nationwide accident forgiveness costs extra and can be used for one accident.
Progressive accident forgiveness is offered if you qualify through its Loyalty Rewards program. Progressive offers "small accident forgiveness" for claims of $500 or less when you start your policy. "Large accident forgiveness" is for customers of at least five years who have not had an accident for the past three years.
Travelers Insurance accident forgiveness is part of its "Responsible Driver Plan" and costs extra. This forgives one accident every 36 months. There's also "minor violation forgiveness."
USAA accident forgiveness can be free, depending on your state, if the drivers on your policy have not caused an accident in five years. Accident forgiveness is good for one accident per policy.
Is accident forgiveness worth it?
If you're considering buying accident forgiveness, weigh the cost versus the potential rate increase for the next three to five years if you or a driver on your policy causes an accident. Your insurance agent can tell you what the possible accident surcharges are and how long they last.
EverQuote analyzed premiums reported by our users who had a "chargeable" accident on their records vs. those with a clean record. Nationwide, the rate increase after an accident is 34%.
Insurance increases after an accident
|Avg. premium for clean driving record||
|Avg. premium for driving record with one at-fault accident||
|Percent increase due to accident||
|Source: EverQuote. Based on premiums reported by EverQuote users from Jan. 1, 2017, to Dec. 31, 2018. Users had liability limits of 100/300/50 and uninsured motorist coverage limits of 100/300. Rates are for a single driver with one vehicle.|
Since accident forgiveness is for accidents that haven't yet happened, and may not happen, you may not want to pay extra for it. If you're a safe driver and your insurance company doesn't offer accident forgiveness as a free perk, you may qualify for other car insurance discounts like a good-driver discount.