Accident Forgiveness: What You Need to Know

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Accident forgiveness: damaged black car on a road

Screech. Crunch. Uh-oh…

After the initial shock of a car accident, another bolt of lightning hits you: The steep increase in the cost of auto insurance. If you have an at-fault accident that results in a claim, your insurance premiums can rise substantially. That can put a huge dent in your budget and wallet — unless your auto insurance policy includes accident forgiveness

Find out how safe driving can make you eligible for this insurance coverage benefit and protect yourself from potential car insurance premium increases. If you want to look at insurance companies that offer accident forgiveness and how much it costs, enter your ZIP code to see your options:

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What is Accident Forgiveness?

Offered by many of the top regional and national car insurance companies around the country, accident forgiveness is an auto policy benefit that erases your first at-fault accident. Although the accident still goes on your driving history, accident forgiveness prevents a rate increase on your premium, provides added peace of mind, and saves you money.

However, every auto insurer has different eligibility requirements. It is integral to determine whether you are a qualifying driver, how the process works, and how much it costs.

How Accident Forgiveness Works

Accident forgiveness: cars that crashed into each other

You’ve always been a safe driver. You’ve never even scraped your bumper. But one afternoon, you forget to check your blind spot as you merge, and bam — you side-swipe the car next to you.

Fortunately, no one gets hurt, but this isn’t a small accident or fender bender. The damage to the other car is considerable and will almost certainly cost thousands to fix. The other driver will assuredly file a claim, and you’re left with a huge increase in your premium from both the accident and the subsequent moving violation.

But not if you have accident forgiveness car insurance! If you do, then your insurance company won’t count this incident on your driving record when they’re calculating your premiums at renewal. What a relief!

Things You Should Know About Accident Forgiveness Coverage

Accident forgiveness can seem like a cure-all if you’re in an accident, but it also comes with a few stipulations you should know about:

  • If your accident involves a DUI or DWI, then your insurance company isn’t going to overlook the incident. Accident forgiveness is null and void, and your insurance rates will increase.
  • Even with accident forgiveness, your rates may still increase because you’ll lose any no-claims or good driver discounts you had.
  • Accident forgiveness applies only to your future insurance premiums, not to any other costs. If you damage your vehicle, you still have to pay the deductible for your collision insurance.
  • Accident forgiveness is like a get-out-of-jail-free card. Once you’ve used it, it’s gone. You may have to drive accident-free for years before you’re eligible to add accident forgiveness to your policy again.
  • The accident remains on your official driving record. If you switch insurers, they will still consider the accident when setting your premium.

After reading the fine print, you will find that accident forgiveness isn’t a fix-all but rather a privilege for years of safe driving. Continue what you’ve been doing, and hopefully, this coverage option will never be a factor.

How Much Does Accident Forgiveness Cost?

Close up shot of cars that crashed into each other

That depends on the insurer. Some insurance companies offer free accident forgiveness as a perk for long-time customers, while others add a surcharge to your premium — usually around 3-5% of your total annual premium. For example, if an insurance quote is $1,000 a year, adding accident forgiveness coverage may cost an additional $30-$50.

Regardless, in order to add accident forgiveness to your policy, you must have a clean driving record and meet certain eligibility requirements.

Why is Accident Forgiveness Not Available in California?

If you live in California, you won’t be able to obtain a car insurance policy that includes accident forgiveness. In 1988, voters approved Proposition 103, which prohibits insurance companies from charging excessive and unjustifiable rates.

Under the law, charging customers for accident forgiveness insurance falls under the umbrella term of excessive, and thus, California prohibits insurers from offering it.

However, there’s a silver lining to this law. The Consumer Federation of America found that Prop 103 has effectively kept insurance rates down and saved California drivers more than $154 billion since 1988.

Insurance Companies With Accident Forgiveness

Here are 14 insurance companies that offer accident forgiveness to get you started on your research. Note that some of these insurers may not be available in all states:

  • Allstate offers accident forgiveness as an add-on policy.
  • Amica Mutual Insurance’s Platinum Rewards auto policy allows you to accumulate points for things like renewing your policy and completing a year of good driving. You can then use your points for accident forgiveness or to reduce your deductible.
  • Encompass Insurance offers accident forgiveness as an optional add-on product. Upgrade to Elite auto insurance with Enhanced Accident Forgiveness, and Encompass will forgive multiple at-fault accidents.
  • Liberty Mutual offers accident forgiveness if you haven’t had an accident or violation for five years, whether you’ve been a customer of Liberty Mutual or a different insurer.
  • MAPFRE Insurance makes accident forgiveness available to less experienced drivers, new customers, and drivers without a perfect record as an additional add-on policy.
  • GEICO offers customers two ways to get accident forgiveness: as a free reward for a clean driving record or an optional upgrade. Each eligible driver may use accident forgiveness once if you have multiple drivers on a policy.
  • Nationwide allows customers to purchase accident forgiveness in select states.
  • Kemper Auto Insurance offers optional accident forgiveness as part of its Prime Auto Enhanced car insurance policy. This coverage will waive any premium increases for your first at-fault accident and even your first minor traffic violation.
  • Ohio Mutual grants accident forgiveness free to customers who have been with the company for three or more years with no at-fault accidents in the household. Customers who haven’t hit the three-year mark may purchase accident forgiveness.
  • Plymouth Rock Assurance allows customers to purchase accident forgiveness insurance a la carte.
  • Safeco includes accident forgiveness in its Safety Rewards program for long-time customers.
  • SECURA Insurance includes accident forgiveness on all MILE-STONE® Gold and Basic policyholders. This comes at no cost as long as you and the drivers in your household haven’t had an accident or a traffic violation for three years.
  • State Auto offers accident forgiveness to new and current policyholders if they’re free of accidents and violations for 35 consecutive months.
  • Travelers offers a Responsible Driver Plan as an add-on purchase, which includes both accident forgiveness and minor violation forgiveness.

Don’t Forget the Discounts

Man riding a car

Accident forgiveness is an amazing feature if you get in an accident, but don’t forget about the discounts afforded to you for driving safely and defensively. Do your research and always ask your insurance agent or insurer how to sign up to reap the benefits of these discounts:

  • Good driver discount: If you’re eligible for accident forgiveness, you’re likely eligible for a good driver discount, which can provide a discount between 10% and 40%.
  • Accident-free discount: Drivers that have been accident-free for three to five years are eligible for this discount that can shave up to 30% off your premiums.
  • Defensive driving discount: Even if you’re a safe driver, adding a few tips to your skillset never hurts. Take an approved driving course and get discounts of up to 10%. If you’re unsure where to start, the National Safety Council has a list of approved courses in your area.

Note that some insurers will automatically add these discounts to your policy, while others you need to apply for. Don’t miss out on these great discounts!

Be Sure to Shop Around for Quotes

Just because an insurer offers free accident forgiveness doesn’t mean it’s the right choice or the best option for your needs. So now that you have a basic idea of accident forgiveness, the next step is to shop for insurance quotes.

Thankfully, makes finding the cheapest quotes possible easier than ever. Pop in your ZIP code below to find the best rate for your coverage needs, hopefully giving you the discounts and accident forgiveness coverage you need.

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