What Is Accident Forgiveness?

Image shows accident forgiveness quick facts: This feature of an auto insurance policy protects your driving record and prevents your insurance premium from going up due to an accident you caused. Offered by many, but not all, major car insurance providers. Whether you qualify depends on your previous record of accidents and speeding tickets.

The Balance / Miguel Co

DEFINITION
Accident forgiveness is a feature of an auto insurance policy that protects your driving record from being affected by the insurance company's rating system for an at-fault accident, thus preventing your insurance premium from going up because of an at-fault accident.

Accident forgiveness is a feature of an auto insurance policy that protects your driving record from being affected by the insurance company's rating system for an at-fault accident. This prevents your insurance premium from going up due to this type of accident.

Definition and Example of Accident Forgiveness

Accident forgiveness is a way to save on auto insurance. Not every at-fault accident will be forgiven by an insurance company. Most often, this applies only to your first at-fault accident, and then only if your driving record is clean. Every auto insurance carrier has its own policy and procedure for accident forgiveness.

If you have been a customer of the same insurance company for years, without ever filing a claim, you are likely seen as a low-risk client. If one day you get in a car accident and have to file a claim, your insurer may consider this an outlier to your regular driving behavior, and it still has incentive to keep you as a policy-holder. You may benefit from accident forgiveness that is already written into your existing contract, or it may have been a rider that you paid for monthly.

How Accident Forgiveness Works

Some companies include forgiveness. Others allow you to purchase it as a rider to your auto policy. It's worth asking whether you qualify. The surcharge for an at-fault accident can be as much as 90%, depending on the state you live in. Other factors include the nature of the at-fault accident and your age, if you're the driver. You may pay this surcharge in the form of premium hikes for up to three years, depending on the insurance carrier. If you pay your premium monthly, you could see a monthly price jump. If you pay twice per year, your costs go up for each payment.

Even if the insurance company forgives and does not include the accident in the price of your insurance, the accident is still on your driving record, and it adds points toward any loss of your license.

If your insurance company offers accident forgiveness, make sure you understand the terms. You might not qualify if you've been in more than one auto accident in the past few years. Racking up a lot of speeding tickets or moving violations may also render you ineligible.

What Companies Offer Accident Forgiveness?

Here are some of the leading car insurance companies offering accident forgiveness with details about this discount:

  • Allstate: Allstate accident forgiveness is an add-on. This option offers discounts to drivers with good driving records. You can also receive a discount for every six months you go without having an accident.​
  • Progressive: Progressive's accident forgiveness is part of its "loyalty rewards" program. With this program, small accidents are forgiven. The idea is to quickly resolve small claims without increasing the insurance premium.​
  • USAA: USAA accident forgiveness is free with no at-fault accidents after five years. You can get this in most states.​
  • Nationwide: Nationwide's accident forgiveness is only available in certain states. It can also extend to other drivers on your policy. The "forgiveness" only applies to one accident per policy.​
  • Liberty Mutual: Liberty Mutual's accident forgiveness can be purchased with the auto policy by qualified customers. It only applies to the first at-fault accident. The option is not available in California.
  • GEICO: GEICO accident forgiveness is available to certain drivers who reach a milestone anniversary and maintain a safe driving record. Qualified drivers may also purchase accident forgiveness. The time to do this is when you get the policy or at renewal.
  • The Hartford: The Hartford's accident forgiveness program doesn’t count your first accident against you if you meet the qualifications. Accident forgiveness is a part of The Hartford’s Advantage Plus package.

Not every company offers accident forgiveness with its car insurance policy. Check with your insurance agent to find out whether yours does.

Alternatives to Accident Forgiveness

Even if you do not qualify for accident forgiveness, other auto insurance discounts may be available to you. One you can check into is the disappearing deductible program that many insurers offer. Driving discounts for students with good grades and pay-as-you-go insurance are other ways to get discounts.

In time, as you clean up your driving record, you may qualify for more discounts. The longer you go with a clean driving record, the more discounts you can receive.

Key Takeaways

  • Accident forgiveness is a way to save money on your insurance premium by keeping an at-fault accident off your chargeable record.
  • It is usually available only to those with clean driving records.
  • Ask your insurance agent whether you are eligible, and make sure you understand the specifics of your policy.
  • Not all insurance companies offer accident forgiveness. Still, there can be other ways to save money on your premium.

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