How long do car accidents affect your insurance?

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Here's what you need to know...

• Insurance can be affected by a car accident for three years or more
• Insurance companies use a point system to assign risk
• Insurance company points do not have to match the state points system
• Some insurance companies may begin reducing premium increases in less than three years

The question of how long a car accident will affect your car insurance seems like it would have a simple answer. The length of time depends on several factors:

• The state you live in
• The insurance company you have
• What type of accident took place
• Your past driving record

Some car accidents may not affect your car insurance rates while other accidents may affect your rates for up to 5 years or more.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, a claim often will stay on your premium for three years, but it can stay on your premium up to five years.

Don’t spend years paying for a policy you can’t afford; enter your zip code into our free search tool to compare car insurance quotes online today.

State to State Variation

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Each state is responsible for creating a method of tracking accidents and assigning a method for rating drivers based on their driving record. A state like North Carolina uses a point rating system.

North Carolina tracks points based not just on accidents, but also on tickets. They use the last three years of points to allow insurance companies to charge the driver a percentage increase, starting at a 30 percent rate increase and going up to a 340 percent increase. The premium climbs, based on the severity of the accident and points charged.

Other states also use points based systems. There are currently nine states that do not use a point based system and they are:

• Washington
• Wyoming
• Oregon
• Kansas
• Minnesota
• Louisiana
• Mississippi
• Rhode Island
• Hawaii

How to Determine State Insurance Point Systems

Check the department of motor vehicles for your state to find out the workings of your state point system. The state point system is not the same as the insurance company point system.

When you check your state points, you can see what change that may be seen on your insurance when you are ready to renew your policy.

State Points Are Not the Same As Insurance Company Points

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States use the points system for making decisions on suspending or revoking a driver’s license. Insurance companies have created a proprietary point system unique to each insurance company that does not match the points assigned by each state. The purpose of points that are determined by an insurance company is to give a driver an experience rating based on their driving behaviors for setting the car insurance premium.

In some states, points are reflected on your insurance company point system but not on your state point system. The states where you find this happening are states that do not have as much regulation of the insurance industry.

In highly regulated states insurance companies have less discretion on assigning points. Often in those states, the companies must follow state requirements with that have predetermined the assignment of points.

Insurance Company Points

Each insurance company assigns points to a driver. The points earned by a driver are one of the factors that determine the premium that the insurance company charges. Comprehensive claims usually do not affect the premium for many insurance companies. But, if you have more than one claim, that could have an impact on your premium with some insurance companies. Talk to your insurance agent and they can explain how the point system works for your policy.

– Not-At-Fault Accidents

These may or may not affect your premium. More than one not-at-fault accident is more likely to affect the cost you pay. Any accident will be reviewed by the insurance company to determine if points should be assigned, and determine how many points to assign.

The number of points assigned to you will depend on the type of accident you have had. An example of a not-at-fault accident would be when another car hits you from behind. If you are determined to be not at-fault, your first accident, with many insurance companies, will not be assigned points.

There are times when you may not be at fault for an accident, yet you can still receive a ticket. An example would be that you are driving without a valid license, or leaving the scene of an accident. Those are instances that would earn additional points that you would receive.

– Tickets for Non-Moving Violations

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Tickets for non-moving violations will usually not affect car insurance premiums. Tickets for a non-moving violation would include:

• Parking ticket
• Driving with an invalid registration card
• Missing or expired license plate
• Leaving a vehicle unattended while running

Non-moving violations will often not result in points be assigned.

– Tickets for Moving Violations

Tickets for moving violations will usually affect your car insurance premium. Tickets for a moving violation in Minnesota would include:

• Speeding
• Running a red light or stop sign
• Driving without a seat belt
• DUI or DWI

If you receive a ticket at the time of a car accident, you will be assigned points for the infraction in addition to points for the type of accident that was involved.

– At-Fault Accidents

Accidents for which you are at fault will affect your car insurance premiums. Some insurance companies offer coverage allowing a waiver of your first accident, so there would be no rate increase. Your insurance company agent can tell you if you have that type of policy. This kind of coverage may be available if you do insurance shopping for car insurance.

– DUIs and DWIs

If you are charged with a DUI or DWI, this will have a large impact on your car insurance premiums.

This type of violation usually will add on your policy the highest number of insurance points assignable. In some states, the number of points may be sufficient to allow your insurance company to non-renew your policy.

My Insurance Company and the Point System

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A car insurance policy in some locations will include information on the insurance company point system. In others, the point system for an insurance company is set by legislation and assigns the number of points that an insurance company can charge to the driver.

Some states have the point system determined by state laws, while others have fewer regulations and allow insurance companies to set their individual point systems.
You can contact your insurance company and request information on the number of points that you are assigned. This information would be for only the number of insurance points you have acquired.

You can contact your state department of motor vehicles and request a copy of your state assigned points. This information would give you the number of DMV points that you received.

Insurance Companies Receives Accident Information from Several Sources

Much of the information an insurance company uses to determine the insurance points use the C.L.U.E. (comprehensive loss underwriting exchange) report.

In states that are not highly regulated, insurance companies have more discretion to use information from other sources. Some insurance companies will use information from legal sources like Lexis/Nexis, even though the incident was not assigned points by the state department of motor vehicles.

Insurance companies can use any information they can find in states that are not highly regulated. That information only needs to be related to the driving habits of a person.

Premiums May Decrease Earlier than Three Years

Each insurance company has created a complex system of assigning points to a driver. Some states will reward a driver that has no further tickets or accidents by reducing the number of points. Points get reduced each year for some types of offenses that appear on the department of motor vehicle record.

Because of this system, you are allowed to see point reductions with your state department of motor vehicles record.
Insurance companies are not required to match the points assigned by the state DMV. You can check with your insurance company agent to ask if your carrier follows this type of option.

Comparing car insurance premiums is even more important when you have a current or prior car accident or have received tickets.

The point system can vary significantly between different car insurance companies. That means one company may raise your premium by 5 percent, while another company can raise your premium by 25 percent. The savings can be dramatic.

A car accident on your insurance can affect your car insurance rates for three years or more. States and car insurance companies use a points system to assign risk to a driver.

The state points do not have to match the insurance company points systems. The insurance company may use additional sources of information beyond the state points system. This information can allow the insurance company to charge a larger premium for the driver.

It doesn’t hurt to check out your options; enter your zip code below and see if you could be saving money on your monthly insurance premiums.

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