What Is Accident Forgiveness?

Your driving record is important. Adding accident forgiveness to your policy can help protect it and keep your rates low. Here's how it works.
Two cars in accident

Accident forgiveness is a perk that keeps your rates from rising after your first at-fault accident. But it works differently for each insurance company. Some provide it as a policy add-on that you purchase. And others just flat out award it to you after years of accident-free driving.

This article will outline what accident forgiveness is and how it can benefit you. We’ll tell you about the different ways that insurance companies offer it. We’ll also look at who needs it and whether accident forgiveness is worth it.

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How Does Accident Forgiveness Work?

Accident forgiveness will help you avoid a price hike on your insurance rates after your first at-fault accident. Many insurers offer this as a perk you can add-on to your policy. In many cases, you can only add it if you qualify.

Benefits

There are plenty of benefits to carrying accident forgiveness on your policy. Here’s what you can expect in return if you choose to add it:

  • You’ll avoid a rise in your insurance rates if you cause an accident
  • Long-term savings because your rates didn’t rise
  • Reassurance that an accident won’t entirely spell disaster for you
  • You’ll likely keep any good driver discounts that you qualify for

Limitations

Accident forgiveness can be a useful option to have on your policy. But there are some limitations to it. Below are key limitations you should consider:

  • It only covers one person per policy. It only helps the first person to cause an accident on a policy. Unfortunately, everyone else is out of luck and can expect a rate increase if they cause an accident.
  • It only covers accidents where you’re at fault. It won’t cover collision claims that you’re not at fault for. It also won’t cover comprehensive coverage claims.
  • Not all insurers offer it. You’ll find that not every company offers it. This article will have a list of top companies who provide it. You can also check with your insurer to see if they offer it.
  • It doesn’t remove the accident from your record. Your insurer might forgive the accident, but other providers can still see it on your record.
  • You may need to qualify for it. Many providers require policyholders to qualify before they can add it. They usually have a set of requirements you have to fulfill.
  • It isn’t available in California.

How You Can Qualify

You’ll most likely need to qualify for accident forgiveness before you can add it to your policy. This means you’ll have to meet a set of requirements that your auto insurer has set up. Here are the most common requirements that insurers want you to meet to qualify:

  • Clean driving record. Having a record with no tickets or accidents is a major requirement. As an example, Liberty Mutual wants its customers to have no accidents or violations in the last five years.
  • Being a new or loyal customer. Some insurers offer it as a bonus for signing up with them or for being a loyal customer. This is something to explore if you’re looking for a new company. Be sure to check with your agent about sign-up rewards or loyalty discounts.
  • Drivers under the age of 25 with consecutive years of a clean record. Drivers under the age of 25 can often qualify for accident forgiveness. Many insurers will want them to have at least five consecutive years with a clean record under their belt before they can qualify.

Who Needs Accident Forgiveness

Accident forgiveness is useful for any driver. But some people need it more than others. If you fit into any of the categories below, you should consider buying accident forgiveness when you have the chance:

You Have Teen Drivers on Your Policy

Teens are new at driving. This means they may be more prone to making mistakes or getting into accidents. You should consider buying accident forgiveness if you have teens on your policy. If they’re at fault in a collision, your insurance will forgive it and your rates won’t rise.

You Have an Accident-Free Record

You should consider adding accident forgiveness if your driving record’s clean. You’d most likely qualify. Your rates are probably pretty affordable already. But one accident could change all that. Having this on your policy means that one at-fault accident won’t ruin your low premiums.

Who Doesn’t Need Accident Forgiveness?

Accident forgiveness isn’t for everyone. You shouldn’t buy it if it costs more than a potential rate increase. Talk to your agent to find out how much a potential rate increase would be first. This way you can see if it would cost you more money in the long run.

Major Companies That Offer Accident Forgiveness

Below is a list of some of the top auto insurance companies that offer accident forgiveness

State Farm

State Farm offers accident forgiveness. However, they only give it to customers who’ve avoided being in a car accident for nine years. Unlike other companies, it’s not something you can simply add to your insurance policy. To get it from State Farm, you’ll have to talk to your agent and ask them if you qualify.

Nationwide

Nationwide offers accident forgiveness. You can get it as an add-on to your current auto insurance policy. To buy it, you simply need to talk to your agent and see if you meet all the qualifications.

GEICO

GEICO offers accident forgiveness to its customers in two ways. One way to get it is by buying it as an add-on to your policy. You can also get it for free by keeping a clean driving record with no tickets or accidents. GEICO tells their customers that they’ll let them know when they’re eligible to receive it for free.

Allstate

With Allstate, you can get accident forgiveness by adding it to your policy. You’ll need to talk with your agent to see how you can add it to your policy and if it’s worth it. Forgiveness begins as soon as you sign-up.

Liberty Mutual

Liberty Mutual accident forgiveness is a policy add-on. But you have to qualify for it. They require you to have a ticket- and accident-free record for five years to qualify. You should check with your Liberty Mutual agent to see if you’re eligible.

The Hartford

Like Liberty Mutual, The Hartford allows you to buy accident forgiveness if you qualify. They also require you to have a clean record for five years to qualify. Once you qualify, your rates won’t increase after an at-fault accident.

Progressive

Progressive is another insurer that offers accident forgiveness. They offer it in two flavors:

  • Small accident. This covers claims that cost $500 or less. It’ll begin as soon as you start your policy.
  • Large accident. This covers claims that cost $500 or more. You can get this as a reward by staying accident- and ticket-free for five years. You’ll also need to keep a policy with Progressive for three years.

Farmers

Farmers Insurance also offers accident forgiveness as an auto insurance policy add-on. To qualify, drivers must remain accident-free for three years with Farmers. After that, you can get into one at-fault accident without seeing a rate increase.

Erie

Erie offers its own brand of this discount called First Accident Forgiveness. To qualify, policyholders in most states must have been an Erie customer for three years. Once you qualify, your first at-fault accident won’t incur a surcharge. This discount is not available if you already have Erie’s Rate Protection Endorsement on your policy.

How Much Does Accident Forgiveness Cost?

Accident forgiveness costs differ by insurer. Many offer it as an add-on to your policy that’ll cost you extra. Other companies, such as GEICO, offer it for free if you maintain a clean driving record.

Some companies charge about $50-70 for it. Others may charge a small percentage of your insurance premiums as the cost. Check with your insurer to find out exactly how much it’ll cost.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How long will an accident stay on my record?

A:  Accidents normally stay on your record for three to five years. Tickets also stay for the same amount of time. Racking up too many tickets or accidents could cause your insurance rates to skyrocket. It can also make insurance companies label you as a high-risk driver. This could make getting insurance difficult.

Q: Is accident forgiveness worth it?

A: There are a lot of reasons for you to buy accident forgiveness. It protects you from having your rates rise after an at-fault accident. You’ll likely save more money in the long-term if you end up causing an accident because your rates won’t rise. It’ll also help lower your stress when you drive because an accident won’t mess up your good record.

Q: Can I buy accident forgiveness after I cause an accident?

A: It depends. Keep in mind that accident forgiveness won’t keep your rates from rising after a previous accident. It’ll only cover future at-fault collisions.

Keep in mind that you probably can’t get it if you have any accidents on your record. Each company has a unique set of requirements for people to qualify for it. Make sure to check with your insurer for their requirements.

Q: Does State Farm have accident forgiveness?

A: Yes, State Farm does have a form of accident forgiveness they offer to loyal customers who have been accident-free for nine years. But you can’t purchase it or add it to your policy. If you’re a long-time State Farm customer with a great driving record, it might be worth asking your agent if you qualify.

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