How long does an accident stay on your record?

After a collision, you might be wondering how long do accidents stay on your record, and it depends on the state you live in. Though each state has its own laws, the average time is between three and five years. An accident on your record will make your insurance rates increase, but comparing quotes from multiple companies can help you save money.

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insuranc...

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years (BBB A+). He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com and Safeco. He reviews content, ensuring that ex...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent Daniel Walker

UPDATED: May 5, 2022

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Things to Remember

  • The amount of time an accident remains on your record depends on the state in which you reside, but the average timeframe is three to five years
  • The price of your insurance will increase after an at-fault accident, but some companies raise rates less often than others
  • You can save money on your insurance after an accident by taking advantage of discounts, lowering your coverage, and comparing quotes from other companies

It’s a fact of life — accidents happen. From a bump in a parking lot to a major incident that totals your car, accidents have a way of ruining your day.

The consequences of an accident affect you for much longer than you might realize. From medical bills to increased  auto insurance rates, it’s best to avoid accidents as much as possible.

However, sometimes they can’t be prevented. If you’ve been involved in an accident and are wondering, “how long do accidents stay on your record?” comparing auto insurance quotes can help you save money. Enter your ZIP code into our free tool to determine what rates might look like for you.

How long do accidents stay on your record?

There are two types of accidents you can be involved in: at-fault and not-at-fault. No matter which situation you find yourself in, it will likely be reported to your state’s MVD.

Every state deals with accidents differently, but the typical amount of time an accident will remain on your record is between three and five years. You can check your specific state below:

StateLength of time an accident stays on your record
Alabama2 years
Alaska1 year
Arizona1 year
Arkansas3 years
California3 years
ColoradoNever
Connecticut2 years
Delaware2 years
Florida5 years
Georgia2 years
HawaiiDepends on the accident
Idaho3 years
Illinois4 to 5 years
Indiana2 years
Iowa5 years
Kansas3 years
Kentucky2 years
LousianaDepends on the accident
Maine1 year
Maryland2 years
Massachusetts6 years
Michigan2 years
MinnesotaDepends on the accident
Mississippi3 years
Missouri3 years
Montana 3 years
Nebraska5 years
Nevada1 year
New Hampshire3 years
New Jersey1 year
New Mexico1 year
New York 18 months
North Carolina3 years
North Dakota1 year
Ohio2 years
Oklahoma1 year
Oregon5 years
Pennsylvania1 year
Rhode Island3 years
South Carolina2 years
South Dakota3 years
Tennessee2 years
Texas3 years
Utah3 years
Vermont2 years
Virginia2 years
Washington5 years
West Virginia2 years
Wisconsin5 years
Wyoming3 years
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The amount of time an accident will stay on your record also depends on its severity. For example, you probably won’t have a minor fender bender on your record for five years. However, an accident involving a DUI infraction will stay with you for a long time.

Review the following graph to discover how long an accident will remain on your record.

Type of accidentLength of time on record
First minor accident3 years, though some insurance companies will forgive it
Minor accident3 years
Major accident5 years
DUI10 years
Hit-and-run10 years
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While it’s best to avoid all accidents, a DUI is basically the worst offense you can become involved in on the road. Aside from the potential of seriously harming other people, it will affect your life for years.

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How long do not-at-fault accidents stay on your record?

The amount of time an accident remains on your record, if you’re not at fault, depends on the state in which you reside. However, even a not-at-fault accident will usually stay on your record for three to five years.

While accidents you’re involved in generally end up on your driving record, the good news is that your insurance company probably won’t hold them against you.

As long as you’re definitely not at fault, most insurance companies will dismiss the accident and maintain your current insurance rates. However, you might find yourself with a price hike if you’re involved in multiple accidents, even if you aren’t responsible for any of them.

How does an accident affect your insurance?

Any accident for which you’re at fault will make your insurance rates increase. That’s because you’re a riskier driver to insure. Drivers that have caused one accident are statistically more likely to cause another.

An accident affects your insurance based on the type of collision you’re involved in and whether or not you have any other incidents on your record.

Consider the following situations:

  • You injure someone in an accident – Any accident you cause will raise your rates, but your insurance company will have to pay more if a person is injured. Higher payouts mean increased insurance rates for you.
  • You total a car – Similar to injuring someone, your insurance company will have to pay more if you total a car.
  • You get a DUI charge – DUI infractions are one of the top reasons your insurance rates go up. If the DUI involves an accident or an injury, your rates can triple.
  • An uninsured driver is involved – If the person you hit doesn’t have insurance, your policy has to pay more money to cover damages.

While every insurance company treats accidents differently, the average increase for auto insurance after an at-fault accident is 46%.

While an accident might stay on your driving record for a few years, insurance companies might hold it against you for up to a decade. Most companies target the last five years of your driving history.

How do you remove an accident from your record?

Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do to remove an accident for which you’ve been judged responsible. All you can do is wait for it to fall off your record.

It might be a different story for your insurance, however. It all depends on your insurance company. For example, the answer to the question, “How long does an accident remain on your record through GEICO?” is different from that of State Farm or Progressive.

Additionally, some insurance companies offer accident forgiveness on their policies. Accident forgiveness programs would disregard your first accident, even if you caused it. However, not all companies offer this benefit.

As an add-on to your policy, you’ll likely have to pay for this coverage. You might have to maintain a certain period of time on your record without accidents before you can qualify.

These are some insurance companies that offer accident forgiveness:

  • GEICO
  • Progressive
  • Allstate
  • State Farm
  • USAA
  • Nationwide

If accident forgiveness sounds appealing, speak with your insurance company to find out if they offer this sort of program. While it will probably raise your insurance rates, it might save you a lot of money in the long run.

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How can you save money on insurance after an accident? 

What happens to your insurance after an accident? While your rates will increase after an accident, there are ways you can save. Try the following suggestions:

  • Increase your deductible – The higher your deductible, the less you owe on your bill. However, raising your deductible comes with a risk. If you need to make a claim in the future, you’ll have to pay more out of pocket.
  • Take advantage of discounts – There are numerous discounts available to help you save money. From good student to good driving, ask your insurance agent to determine whether or not you’re eligible for discounts.
  • Reduce your coverage – If an accident pushes the price of your insurance beyond your budget, consider lowering your amount of coverage. As long as you meet the minimum requirement in your state, you can go as low as you’d like.
  • Improve your credit score – People don’t realize that their credit score affects their insurance rates. You can improve your rates by raising your score — try to pay down your debt, ensure that your bills are on time, and avoid credit checks for a while.

Of course, the best way to save money on your insurance is to compare quotes from as many companies as possible. Your insurance might drop you if you have too many accidents on your record, but even if they don’t, your rates will assuredly increase.

However, some companies don’t punish accidents as often as others. You can review insurance quotes without risking your current policy. Researching separate companies can help you obtain the best price on your insurance, regardless of whether or not you have an accident or any other incident on your record.

Find the Best Car Insurance After an Accident

Getting into an accident can ruin more than your day — you’ll likely have it on your record for years to come. You’ll also face higher insurance rates.

So, how long do accidents stay on your record? It does depend on the accident and what your insurer says. However, don’t let this discourage you from having the best policy. Shopping for quotes can help you save money. Enter your ZIP code into our free tool to discover what rates might look like for you.

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Enter your ZIP code below to view companies that have cheap auto insurance rates.

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