Car insurance rates can go up 51% a year on average if you cause an accident, NerdWallet’s analysis found.
But if you switch to the cheapest insurer in your state, you may find better rates.
How an accident affects your car insurance rates
An accident affects your car insurance rates for three to five years on average, although this varies by state and insurance provider. Even if it was a minor crash, insurers perceive you as a greater risk and will almost always increase your rates.
To give you a better idea of how much more you’ll pay after an accident, NerdWallet compared average car insurance rates nationwide for 35-year-old drivers with a recent at-fault crash to those with no recent accidents, keeping all other factors the same. We used full coverage insurance policies for a 2019 Toyota Camry and a hypothetical accident that resulted in $10,000 worth of property damage and no injuries.
|Type of policy||Clean record||One at-fault accident|
Our analysis found that:
- Nationwide, a driver with an at-fault accident pays $832 more a year on average than a driver with no traffic violations.
- In 44 states and Washington, D.C., average annual rates were more than $500 higher for drivers who’d caused a recent accident than for those who had not.
- In 18 states, average rates increased at least 50% after an at-fault accident.
- In California, Floria, Louisiana and Texas, average rates increased by more than $1,200 per year after an at-fault accident.
However, these are based on average rates. Your rate may differ depending on factors like your age, location and insurer.
Cheap car insurance after an accident by company
Car insurance companies have wildly different viewpoints on how much to raise rates due to a crash. In some states, a few companies in our analysis didn’t charge more after a small accident.
At the other extreme, we found several companies with rates more than twice as high for a driver who’d caused an accident than for an identical driver who hadn’t. And in a couple cases, average rates were more than $2,000 a year higher after an at-fault accident.
That’s why, to get cheap car insurance after an accident, it’s essential to compare car insurance rates from several companies.
State Farm, Geico, Progressive and Allstate, the nation’s four largest car insurance companies, together make up more than half of the auto insurance market. The fifth-largest car insurance company, USAA, is available only to active military members, veterans and their families.
To see how the largest insurers price policies after at-fault accidents, we looked at average rates across 45 states and Washington, D.C., where we have rates for all four of the largest companies.
State Farm returned the lowest average rates for drivers who’d caused an accident, as well as for drivers who had not, and also showed the smallest percentage increase in rates between drivers with a clean record and those with a recent crash.
Average rates from the biggest auto insurers after an at-fault crash
|Company ranked by average % increase||Average rate before an accident||Average rate after an accident|
|1. State Farm||$1,381||$1,794|
|*USAA is only available to military, veterans and their families.|
For drivers who qualify, USAA frequently has some of the lowest rates we found, both before and after an accident. But in some cases, USAA is no longer the cheapest option once a driver has caused an accident. In Alaska, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Dakota and Wisconsin, for example, USAA is cheapest for drivers with a clean record, but other companies return the lowest rates for drivers with an at-fault crash.
So whether you’re insured with USAA or another company, it’s smart to compare car insurance rates after an accident.
Cheap car insurance after an accident by state
Wondering which companies are the most likely to offer cheap car insurance after a crash? Find your state below to see the cheapest car insurance rates after an accident on average based on where you live.
|State||Cheapest company||Average annual rate after an accident|
|Arkansas||Southern Farm Bureau Casualty||$1,261|
|Louisiana||Southern Farm Bureau Casualty||$2,246|
|Mississippi||Mississippi Farm Bureau||$1,663|
|Missouri||Missouri Farm Bureau||$1,365|
|Nebraska||Farmers Mutual of Nebraska||$1,211|
|New Jersey||Plymouth Rock||$1,113|
|New Mexico||State Farm||$1,476|
|New York||Main Street America||$1,320|
|North Carolina||North Carolina Farm Bureau||$1,635|
|North Dakota||American Family||$1,063|
|Rhode Island||State Farm||$1,184|
|South Carolina||American National||$794|
|South Dakota||American Family||$1,178|
It’s possible to get a lower rate after an accident
Shopping around after an accident is the best way to ensure you are getting the cheapest rate, and our analysis shows why:
- Shopping for the cheapest car insurance after a crash could save you big. Our analysis shows that shopping for the cheapest possible rate after a crash could potentially save you more than $1,350 a year, depending on your state.
- No single car insurance company is cheapest for everyone. Across all 50 states and Washington, D.C., 23 different insurers tied for cheapest option after an accident.
- The cheapest insurer before an accident may not be the cheapest afterward. In about half of the states we looked at, some drivers who were insured with the cheapest company available would need to switch insurers to continue getting the lowest possible rates after an accident.
- Big-name insurance companies aren’t always cheapest. Although the nation’s 10 largest auto insurance companies together account for nearly three-fourths of the car insurance market, smaller companies returned the lowest rates after an accident in 22 states and Washington, D.C. A state’s Farm Bureau insurance, for example, showed the lowest rates after an at-fault crash in three states. Some smaller insurers are available in only a few states.