What is accident forgiveness?

Here’s what it does — and how to tell if accident forgiveness is right for you.

Anna Swartz 1600

Anna Swartz

Published December 21, 2018

No matter where you live in the U.S., your state likely requires you to have at least some auto insurance. Even if you live in one of the few states without auto insurance requirements, you’re probably financially responsible for any property damage or injury caused by your vehicle, so insurance is still a good idea.

But car insurance premiums can be expensive and are often based on factors outside of your control. And your premiums can rise if you’re in a car accident, sometimes by as much as nearly 50%. That means accident forgiveness can be a good option for drivers who are especially concerned about those cost increases.

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How does accident forgiveness work?

Most major carriers offer accident forgiveness, often as an optional add-on to a plan. Basically, accident forgiveness means your rates won’t necessarily go up after an at-fault accident claim.

When you have accident forgiveness, you’re essentially paying for an accident you haven’t had yet (and might never have!). Typically, accident forgiveness is a minimal surcharge on your overall premium. But for folks who value coverage over cost, the peace of mind that comes with accident forgiveness might be worth it.

Which carriers offer accident forgiveness?

Not everyone can add accident forgiveness to their car insurance policy. Some carriers require you to be accident-free for three to five years to be eligible. Others have age requirements for accident forgiveness.

Popular car insurance carriers that offer accident forgiveness include:

  • Allstate — Offered as an “Allstate Extra”
  • Amica — Included in Platinum Choice Auto
  • Farmers — Forgives one at-fault accident every three years without an accident
  • Geico — Offers free and upgraded accident forgiveness
  • Liberty Mutual — Offered if you go five years without an accident or violation (even when with another carrier)
  • Nationwide — Extends to every driver on a policy, but only allows one forgiven accident per policy
  • Progressive — Offers “small accident forgiveness” for claims less than $500, and “large accident forgiveness” once you’ve been a Progressive customer for at least five years with no accident in three years
  • Safeco — Your first accident is “waived after a set number of years with Safeco without an at-fault accident or violation”
  • Travelers — Available through the purchase of a Responsible Driver Plan
  • USAA — Not available in CT, DE, NC, CA or NY

If making sure you get accident forgiveness is a priority, a Policygenius agent can help you find the right auto insurance plan. But there’s no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to whether accident forgiveness is a smart buy for you. An agent can help you figure out whether it’s something that makes sense to include in your coverage.

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Other ways to keep your premiums low

There are lots of auto-insurance discounts available to consumers that can help ensure you’re paying for the lowest premiums possible. Those include but aren’t limited to:

  • Good driver discounts. Most providers will give you a discount for going a certain amount of time without filing a claim or getting ticketed. You might also be able to get discounts for taking a defensive driving course.

  • Low mileage discounts. The less you drive, the less likely you are to get into an accident, so some insurers will give you a discount for having a low annual mileage.

  • Affiliation discounts. Check to see if you can get a discount on insurance through your employer, your alma mater or other institutions or associations you belong to, like a sorority or fraternity.

  • Student discounts. Car insurance is usually more expensive for younger drivers, but students can qualify for discounts, including for maintaining good grades or making the honor roll or dean’s list.

  • Bundling discounts. You can also usually get a discount by bundling your auto and homeowners insurance through the same carrier.

Policygenius’ editorial content is not written by an insurance agent. It’s intended for informational purposes and should not be considered legal or financial advice. Consult a professional to learn what financial products are right for you.