Accident forgiveness is something you can add onto your existing auto insurance policy. It's like a "freebie" if you will. You pay a little bit more on your annual auto insurance premium in exchange for being forgiven after your first accident. In exchange, your insurance premium won't increase after that first accident.
(Note that some insurance companies will offer forgiveness for more than one accident in a set time period such as 3 years.)
On average you can expect to pay an extra 2% - 9% to add accident forgiveness onto your auto insurance policy. Rates are calculated based on a few factors, including the insurance carrier and your driving history.
Why pay for an accident I haven't had yet?
If you are involved in an accident, your auto insurance premium will most likely go up. How much of an increase you can expect depends on a lot of factors, including your driving history, the circumstances of the accident (including how much was caused in damages), and whether or not you were at fault.
In Virginia the average insurance increase for an at-fault accident is about 53%. That increase could be reflected on your premium for as long as 5 years. Almost every insurance carrier will increase your premium after you're involved in an accident. However, if you have accident forgiveness, your premium won't be affected after that first accident.
Not convinced? Do the math:
The average cost of accident forgiveness is an extra 2% - 9% per year. In Virginia the average cost of auto insurance is about $900/year, therefore you'd be paying an extra $18-$81 per year to have the accident forgiveness.
Let's say you get into an accident after 3 years of paying for accident forgiveness. At that rate, you've paid an extra 6% - 27% (that's about $54 - $240) but your insurance rate wouldn't go up after that accident.
But what if you didn't have the accident forgiveness? Your rate would increase about 50% and you'd be stuck paying that for 3-5 years. That's an average of $500/year added onto your insurance premium!
Where can I get accident forgiveness?
Most major insurance carriers offer accident forgiveness. Some give it as an option to add onto your pre-existing auto insurance policy, and others will include it if you have a good driving record and/or have been a loyal customer to that carrier for a certain amount of time. If you're unsure if you have accident forgiveness, you should ask your local agent. If you've purchased your auto insurance online, you'll need to look at the policy or contact their customer service department.
Who needs accident forgiveness?
Anyone who is a safe driver with a good record should have accident forgiveness. Some insurance carriers won't offer it as an option if you don't meet certain requirements, like if you've been involved in a car accident in the past 5 years. The requirements can vary by state and by insurance carrier.
When can I get accident forgiveness?
If you have a good driving record, you should ask your insurance agent if they can add it to your policy. Some insurers will accept minor accidents (such as fender benders) on your record but not major at-fault accidents.
Your insurer will have their own rules about when it can be added to your policy. Keep in mind you may have to wait until your policy renews to add it on.
Are there any exceptions?
There are some exceptions to accident forgiveness. For one, it's not an option for California drivers due to state regulations. And as stated above, it's typically not available if you have a history of frequent accidents or have one on your record within the past 5 years.
Accident forgiveness means your accident will be "forgiven" by the insurance carrier. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, there's a chance it will still go on your driving record and have an impact on your future insurance rates if you try to switch insurance carriers.
Accident forgiveness usually it only covers one accident per policy, meaning if you have multiple drivers on a policy and one gets into an accident, none of the other drivers on the policy will have it after that point. Insurers have different rules for this, however, so you will want to check with your specific policy's guidelines.
And last but not least, no you can't purchase accident forgiveness for an accident that's already happened. Sorry!
If you're looking for auto insurance with accident forgiveness in Richmond VA or the surrounding area, look no further than Ronnie Shriner Insurance Agency. Located in Glen Allen, we've been providing quality insurance services for our neighbors since 1989. You can get in touch with us here, send us an email at email@example.com, or give us a call at (804) 270-0406.