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Accident forgiveness is an optional coverage type that could prevent your car insurance rates from increasing in the event of an at-fault accident
Powered by Daniel is a MarketWatch Guides team writer and has written for numerous automotive news sites and marketing firms across the U.S., U.K., and Australia, specializing in auto finance and car care topics. Daniel is a MarketWatch Guides team authority on auto insurance, loans, warranty options, auto services and more.
Rashawn Mitchner is a MarketWatch Guides team editor with over 10 years of experience covering personal finance, loans, insurance and warranty topics.
Even if you’re a safe driver with a clean driving record, it only takes one slip-up on the road to potentially increase your insurance rates. Accident forgiveness prevents your auto insurance rates from rising if you cause an accident, and could offer peace of mind in knowing that you won’t be penalized.
We at the MarketWatch Guides Team will explain what accident forgiveness is and how it works before running through the best car insurance companies that offer this type of coverage. That way, you’ll be able to decide whether accident forgiveness is a worthwhile option for you.
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Accident forgiveness is extra coverage that you can purchase to keep your insurance costs from increasing after you cause a car accident. One of the top factors considered by insurers when setting rates is your driving history, so you could be seen as a high-risk driver if there’s an accident or two on your record.
Accident forgiveness keeps your first at-fault and chargeable accident from affecting your car insurance premium, potentially saving you from increased rates. Some insurance companies let you earn accident forgiveness, while others require you to purchase it as an add-on coverage.
A chargeable accident is one that your car insurance company determines you’re at-fault for. It could either be a simple accident like a fender bender or a more serious moving violation. Accidents involving damage to another person’s property and car crashes that result in injuries or death also fall under this term.
These accidents will usually increase your insurance premium, though the amount depends on your location, your chosen insurer and the severity of the accident. The types of accidents that are considered chargeable depend on your state and car insurance company, with some states defining a chargeable accident by dollar amount.
Not every kind of accident is considered chargeable, as some accidents don’t result in a surcharge. Examples of accidents that won’t increase your insurance rates are being the victim of a hit-and-run incident, being struck from behind by another vehicle and having a collision with an animal.
If you hold a clean driving record and receive safe driving discounts from your auto insurance company, you’ll normally lose these savings after an at-fault accident. In addition, you’ll probably be charged much higher insurance rates once this claim reaches your driving record.
Your insurance premiums won’t increase, however, after your first at-fault accident if you’re covered by accident forgiveness. The only price hike you could face would be the loss of a claims-free discount if you were using one before the accident.
Accident forgiveness only applies to your first at-fault accident and not to subsequent ones. Also, this type of coverage won’t keep accidents that you caused from showing up on your overall driving history.
If you have a clean driving record and qualify for accident forgiveness, it could provide peace of mind while you’re on the road. Drivers pay an average of 48% more for full-coverage car insurance after causing a single accident versus having a clean driving record.
Note that teen drivers won’t qualify for accident forgiveness because car insurers generally require at least five years of a clean driving record to become eligible.
If you don’t qualify for accident forgiveness, there are several other car insurance discounts that could help to reduce your premiums. Other discounts available through insurers include:
It’s smart to take advantage of all possible auto insurance discounts, as they could lower your rates and increase the accessibility of a high-quality but affordable coverage plan.
According to data from Quadrant Information Services, the average cost of full-coverage car insurance for a 35-year-old male with one accident is $233 per month or $2,794 per year. This is a 41% rate increase from the average rate for a 35-year-old male with a clean driving record, which is $151 per month or $1,976 per year.
Below are the average full-coverage car insurance costs by state for those with a clean driving record versus for those with a single accident.
Your driving record isn’t the only factor that has an effect on the auto insurance rates you’ll pay. Other specifics that insurance providers look at when setting coverage rates include:
Through our comprehensive review, we’ve identified various reputable car insurers that offer accident forgiveness. Below are a few of our top-rated providers that offer this coverage either at an added cost or as an incentive.
Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating: Not rated
AM Best financial strength rating: A++
2022 J.D. Power claims satisfaction: 890 out of 1,000
USAA offers customers some of the cheapest rates for car insurance, but coverage is only available for military members, veterans and their families. The company offers valuable add-ons such as car replacement assistance and classic car insurance, and it has a usage-based insurance program called SafePilot® that awards discounts for safe driving habits.
To receive accident forgiveness coverage, you must be accident-free for five years or more with USAA. Accident forgiveness is not available in every state, and other restrictions may apply that could affect your eligibility.
Keep reading: USAA insurance review
BBB rating: A+
AM Best financial strength rating: A++
2022 J.D. Power claims satisfaction: 874 out of 1,000
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) names Geico the second-largest auto insurer in the nation, accounting for 14.3% of all auto policies sold. Geico offers low rates and a solid lineup of car insurance discounts along with specialty coverage types like mechanical breakdown insurance.
Geico’s accident forgiveness insurance can either be earned or purchased if you qualify for it. Complimentary accident forgiveness is offered to drivers who have been accident-free for over five years, though not for drivers under 21 years old. If you don’t qualify for free accident forgiveness, you can pay to have it added to your policy if you meet certain criteria.
Keep in mind that Geico accident forgiveness is not available in California, Connecticut or Massachusetts and that purchasable coverage may not be available in other states.
Keep reading: Geico insurance review
BBB rating: A+
AM Best financial strength rating: A
2022 J.D. Power claims satisfaction: 870 out of 1,000
We recognized Liberty Mutual for its strong discount programs, which can offset the higher-than-average cost of insurance for young drivers. While teens may be unable to save through accident forgiveness, it’s easy for them to find other discounts from Liberty Mutual. The provider also offers an array of add-on coverages, has excellent industry ratings and is available all across the U.S.
To qualify for Liberty Mutual’s accident forgiveness coverage, you must have had no accidents or traffic violations in the last five years. Additionally, drivers under the age of 25 must have at least five consecutive years of clean driving before their first accident can be forgiven.
Keep reading: Liberty Mutual insurance review
BBB rating: A
AM Best financial strength rating: A++
2022 J.D. Power claims satisfaction: 854 out of 1,000
Through our extensive research, we found that Travelers offers a wide range of coverage options for your vehicle. With add-ons such as new car replacement, roadside assistance and named non-owner insurance, you’re likely to find coverage that suits your needs. Travelers also provides savings for being a good student, for owning a new car and for taking approved driver training courses.
Travelers offers accident forgiveness for those with a good driving record if they purchase a Responsible Driver Plan℠, which offers accident forgiveness along with minor violation forgiveness. The large accident forgiveness portion of your plan makes sure that one accident over a specified period of time won’t affect your car insurance rate.
You’ll need to contact an agent or a Travelers representative to learn about the criteria needed to qualify for accident forgiveness, as few details can be found on the Travelers website.
Keep reading: Travelers insurance review
Not every auto insurance company has accident forgiveness, so it’s best to check with your provider to see if it offers coverage. Some other well-known insurers that offer accident forgiveness include:
Accident forgiveness coverage can either be a type of good driver discount or an additional coverage plan. It keeps your first at-fault, chargeable accident from affecting your car insurance premium, saving you from potentially increased rates. While many reputable insurers offer this coverage, we recommend comparing car insurance providers to find the best rates for you.
Accident forgiveness prevents your first at-fault accident from affecting your car insurance rate, sparing you from the standard increases. If accident forgiveness is part of your auto insurance policy, you can rest assured that it will protect you from many causes of premium hikes.
Accident forgiveness only prevents your insurance rates from rising in the event of an at-fault accident. It doesn’t have any effect on situations covered by other insurance products, such as collision and comprehensive auto coverage.
Accident forgiveness keeps your first at-fault accident from raising your insurance costs and is a relatively affordable add-on. The cost of adding this type of coverage could be worth it in the long run for a large number of motorists.
Because consumers rely on us to provide objective and accurate information, we created a comprehensive rating system to formulate our rankings of the best car insurance companies. We collected data on dozens of auto insurance providers to grade the companies on a wide range of ranking factors. The end result was an overall rating for each provider, with the insurers that scored the most points topping the list.
Here are the factors our ratings take into account:
*Data accurate at time of publication.
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