Why Did My Car Insurance Go Up?

WRITTEN BY: Julia Matseikovich


Nobody intentionally gets into a car wreck, but sometimes accidents happen. Thankfully, most people have auto insurance (since it’s illegal not to), so the insurance company takes care of things after the accident. But making a claim on your insurance policy may impact your car insurance costs at your next renewal.

How do accidents impact your average car insurance costs?

Accidents can dramatically increase your auto rates if they are your fault. See below for a table of the average rate increase after an at-fault accident, per state, according to Forbes.

StateAverage Increase
District of Columbia36.10%
North Carolina63.10%
North Dakota27.90%
New Hampshire33.60%
New Jersey64.70%
New Mexico34.10%
New York25.90%
Rhode Island48%
South Carolina39.40%
South Dakota35.70%
West Virginia44%

Insurance companies are not permitted to raise your car insurance costs in the middle of a policy, so depending on when you get into an accident, you may have breathing room before your rates shoot up.

What kind of accidents affects car insurance costs?

Typically insurance companies only increase your premium if the accident results in over a certain amount of damage, although this varies from state to state. In Massachusetts, for example, your insurer won’t raise your rates if the claim is under $1,000.

If I didn’t cause the accident, will my premium still go up?

Thankfully, premiums are unlikely to go up if you’re not at fault. 

Examples of accident situations where you’re unlikely to have a rate increase include if:

Your insurance provider may ask you for proof that you weren’t at fault. Examples of valid proof could include a police report or a statement from the other driver’s insurance accepting fault.

How do tickets affect your car insurance?

Unfortunately, most traffic citations make your car insurance costs increase. The insurance company sees drivers with traffic violations on their record as a higher risk.

Your car insurance costs will increase depending on the violation you receive and your insurance company. However, some companies will forgive one incident if you have an otherwise good driving record. Check with your auto insurance company to see what its policy entails.

Which moving violations are likely to cause car insurance costs to increase?

Several traffic violations could cause your car insurance costs to increase. The more serious violations are likely to increase your rates more than the less severe ones. Here are some common driving mistakes you should avoid.

  • Distracted driving/cellphone violation
  • Driving too slowly
  • Driving with a suspended license
  • Driving with an open container
  • Driving with expired registration
  • Driving without lights
  • Driving wrong way/wrong lane
  • DUI (driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs)
  • Failure to show documents
  • Failure to stop at a red light
  • Failure to use a child safety restraint
  • Failure to wear a seat belt
  • Failure to yield
  • Following too closely
  • Illegal turn
  • Improper passing
  • Operating a vehicle without permission
  • Passing a school bus
  • Racing
  • Reckless driving
  • Refusal of breathalyzer/chemical test
  • Speeding
  • Speeding in a school zone

Which traffic violations won’t cause your car insurance costs to increase?

There isn’t a hard and fast rule, but typically insurers won’t hike up your premium for violations that don’t show you’re driving riskily. For example, parking tickets may not be a reason for your insurance company to add a surcharge. 

Additionally, you may be able to get out of a rate increase if you contest the ticket and win. You also may have the option to complete a state-approved defensive driving course to get your ticket dismissed. 

How do claims impact your auto insurance rates?

Claiming your policy is likely to increase your car insurance rates. Luckily, most insurance providers won’t raise your premium for claims relating to damage that wasn’t your fault.

What is accident forgiveness?

Accident forgiveness is additional insurance coverage, meaning your rate won’t increase after your first accident. This isn’t available to everyone, and some states, such as California, expressly don’t allow accident forgiveness.

Often, accident forgiveness applies to the first accident per policy, not per person. Some insurance companies will allow one at-fault accident every three years without one.

It’s important to remember that accidents will still go on your driving record and may still impact your rates if you decide to switch insurance companies.


How much do your average car insurance costs go up after an accident?

This varies wildly between insurance companies and states. Average car insurance costs can increase between 30% and 75%. Unfortunately, there’s no way to determine an exact amount until after you’ve had an accident and the policy comes up for renewal.

Can you get car insurance after an accident?

Yes. It is extremely unlikely that you won’t be able to find car insurance after you’ve had an accident that was your fault, although your car insurance costs will probably be higher than if you hadn’t had an at-fault accident.

Do car insurance costs go up after a no-fault accident?

In most cases, car insurance costs won’t increase if the accident isn’t your fault. If you live in a no-fault state, there’s a chance your rates will increase after an accident, but it’s up to your insurance company.

If your insurance costs increase even if the accident wasn’t your fault, you might want to consider switching providers.

How long does an accident affect your insurance?

Your car insurance costs increase, and the length of time they remain higher after an accident varies between insurance companies and by state. Most insurance companies will look at the last three to five years of your driving (and accident, violation, and claim) history when deciding what insurance rate to offer you.

The Bottom Line

Accidents, tickets, and claims may impact your auto rates in a big way. The increase varies from state to state, but your rates will increase regardless of location or violation.

If you’ve been in an accident or had a driving violation that caused your average car insurance costs to increase, consider comparing auto insurance rates for different companies. You might be able to save some money by switching auto insurance providers.