This post continues the lessons learned from my wife’s car accident story.
First, we discussed taking a driving class to drop points on your record. Then we chatted about the various types of auto insurance coverage and being covered when you are at fault in an accident.
In this post, we’ll discuss auto insurance accident forgiveness, what it is, how you can become eligible for it, and which auto insurers offer it. Also, before you get to this point, it is also beneficial to know what to do when in an accident, before you leave the scene to get the best result with insurance companies.
How Does Accident Forgiveness Work?
There are all kinds of costs that pile up when you get in a car accident.
First, you typically will receive a traffic citation if you were at fault. If your repairs are extensive enough that you make an insurance claim, you have to pay an insurance deductible. The citation can increase the points on your record, which could increase your auto insurance premiums. And to add insult to injury, your insurance premiums could increase due to you making the claim.
The latter is where accident forgiveness comes in.
A number of insurance companies will offer “accident forgiveness” as a perk for signing up as a customer of theirs. There is no auto insurance industry standard definition of accident forgiveness – it can vary from company to company. The basic idea is that auto insurance provider will “forgive” your accident by not increasing your premiums.
The forgiveness has nothing to do with points on your driving record. Your driving record is connected to the government. A company forgiving you WILL NOT wipe out your points or accidents from your driving record.
Accident forgiveness is specific to the company offering it only. If you move to a new auto insurer, there is a possibility they will factor the accident into your insurance premium, even if your previous insurer forgave you.
How do you Qualify for Accident Forgiveness?
Every auto insurance company has a slightly different take on accident forgiveness.
In general, there are three circumstances in which an insurer would offer accident forgiveness:
- new customer acquisition: auto insurance companies realize that you are less prone to move to them if they are going to punish you for a past accident, so a number of them offer accident forgiveness to customers with a recent blemish in their driving record.
- customer loyalty: some insurers offer accident forgiveness to customers who have been with them for a certain length of time.
- driving record history: Many insurers require that drivers have a clean driving record for a certain length of time.
Some require both loyalty and a clear driving record to qualify for accident forgiveness.
What Auto Insurance Companies Have Accident Forgiveness?
Accident forgiveness has become extremely popular in the auto insurance industry as a means to attract and retain loyal (and safe) customers, and a number of companies now offer some variation (which can vary from state to state):
Liberty Mutual: This is our personal insurer. Because we had zero accident or citations in a long time, we were eligible for accident forgiveness with Liberty Mutual. There was no additional charge for accident forgiveness. With Liberty Mutual, you are eligible with 5 years of accident and violation-free driving, regardless of when you switched to them.
AllState: At Allstate, accident forgiveness comes if you upgrade to their YourChoice Auto plan, which has a cost premium. No set premium increases are noted, you must talk to an agent. Forgiveness at a price? Probably not worth it.
Nationwide: Nationwide accident forgiveness is an option you buy and can be used on only one accident per policy. If you have 5 years without an accident, you can get a 10% discount.
Geico: According to Geico:
“Accident Forgiveness applies only to your first accident. Your insurance rate won’t go up as a result of your first otherwise surchargeable, at-fault accident. Subsequent occurrences do not qualify for Accident Forgiveness. Accident Forgiveness eligibility is determined by your specific policy type, as well as your state laws and regulations. Terms vary according to state law.”
You must be accident free for 3-5 years.
Progressive: on the Progressive site, the only mention of accident forgiveness is,
“With the Loyalty Rewards program from Progressive, we celebrate you! You’re automatically enrolled and instantly rewarded. The program features benefits like money-saving discounts and Accident Forgiveness.”
The accident forgiveness perk is an area that auto insurers are not being very transparent about, clearly.
A Final Note on Accident Forgiveness:
Liberty Mutual appears to have the best accident forgiveness policies, but I certainly would not recommend choosing an auto insurance policy solely for the fact that they have accident forgiveness. Price and that company’s reputation are more important factors. If you go with an insurer that does not offer accident forgiveness, it is not the end of the world – if they increase your rates, you can price compare and go elsewhere.
However, if you have been in an accident and were “forgiven”, it can seem pretty damn nice, in hindsight.
Unfortunately, however, your auto insurance claim will still show up in your CLUE report for future insurers if you switch policies.
Accident Forgiveness Discussion:
- Have you used accident forgiveness?
- How does your auto insurer do accident forgiveness? How much does it cost?
I too have accident forgiveness free of charge with Liberty Mutual. Another coverage worth exploring is Vanishing or Diminishing deductibles. So if you are in an accident your deductible is removed or significantly lower.
Is accident forgiveness actually just a selling scam? I’ve known people who had an accident and there was no increase in their insurance costs. There was no “accident forgiveness” with the insurers, there was simply no policy of automatically increasing the premiums after one accident.
Insurance companies have all the right to increase premiums after an ‘at-fault’ accident ONLY. Whether or not they do so depends on several factors.
Insurance companies use a bunch of criteria to estimate risk, and then they price accordingly. Here some are offering to ignore one (presumably important) piece for marketing reasons.
What’s next, male forgiveness? Red sports car forgiveness? =]
Accident Forgiveness Auto Insurance Isn’t So Forgiving.
I’ve heard of accident forgiveness but never really looked into it. I just go real cheap with my car insurance b/c I know in the long run the less money you pay the better IMO. The insurance company has everything worked out and they’ll just raise their rates if they’re not making enough money.
last comment got spammed?
Erie is another insurance company that offers accident forgiveness.
I have yet to experience accident forgiveness but my friends have it through their respective insurance companies and love it! Do you all feel the same way? Thinking about switching insurance companies with my new car purchase and would love more info. And since you’re all helping me out, for those who are looking to save on a new car purchase, check out the GM College Discount Program!
My stepson, a nice 30 year old, had a fender-bender in his older Prius. His rate doubled to $200 per month, causing financial hardship. His mom,who has an Excellent Driver rating with Geico, wants to ask him to join her via an accident-forgiveness insurance and to get the multi-car discount for them–which is fine with me. Would they be better off staying with Geico or seeking another company such as those mentioned in GE Miller’s article printed above?
Mr Miller: Would you email me any responses–any advice plus your advice of course.
Hi GE, you are actually wrong in your assessment of Allstate’s accident forgiveness.
Standard policy-after 5 years with Allstate, you are forgiven for the 1st at-fault accident-no charge (same as Liberty Mutual -but no restrictions on whether you had a citation or not-and Geico)
Gold-you are forgiven for one at-fault accident every 5 years AND you get 100 off your collision deductible immediately and then get another 100 off every year you remain accident free up to $500 in deductible rewards.
Platinum-You are forgiven for any and all accidents immediately, you get the same 100 off for deductible rewards as with the Gold AND you get 5% back every 6 months you have been accident free.
Be someone who has an accident, tell me how little the extra 50 to 100 for the accident forgiveness benefits means when your premium doesn’t go up after we pay 10k out to get your car and the one you hit fixed.
I am an Allstate agent and wanted to set the record straight. It is definitely worth it. Where the problem actually lies is when people price compare a superior policy against one that ‘says’ it offers something great and it turns out that special ‘offer’ is really just a standard for many companies. Like your personal insurer, Geico and Progressive advertise.
Drive carefully as your next accident with Liberty Mutual won’t be forgiven until 5 years pass from your last one.
My wife had a front bumper damage to her own vehicle and nothing happened to the other vehicle. That cost us 500 dollars in deductibles and about 2400 dollars to the insurance.
We have accident forgiveness on our policy, but the next renewal cycle which was only 2 months down the road, our 6 month premium went up by 100 dollars or 17%.About 200 dollars.
And the agent had the got saying that there was an increase number of claims in the area and our premium was affected by that and not the accident. Insurance companies are in the market to make money.
They could care less about what you think.
Hello Priscilla! Sorry, I know this thread is old, but I am currently in a situation, and was searching on the web and stumbled across this. I totally agree with you and understand what you meant in your comment!!! My wife and I are currently with Liberty Mutual, and from what I am experiencing, their accident forgiveness policy stinks! We had a claim on their policy early in 2015,(1st one) and a previous ‘not at-fault’ claim back in 2012 on a previous policy. They are telling us that the accident forgiveness for the 2015 is void because of the 2012 claim from the previous policy(with another insurance co.)even though that one was a ‘not at-fault’claim!! Complete BS!! The payout from that 2012 policy was for my PIP only, and the law does not allow for insurance companies to raise rates due to PIP payouts. After I presented all of my lost-history documents to them regarding, their underwriting dept. gonna say..”well, your rates are still increasing due to the fact that it simply was a pay-out.” I’m like, WHAT??! BS!!! We’ve been a loyal customer to them, and our premiums were paid on time EVERY month, and that’s how they feel?!
The thing that made me respond to your comment was the fact that you mention being an AllState agent, and it is funny because we are looking to cancel their bs policy, and we actually did in fact get a quote from AllState!! We are STRONGLY considering going with them, because based on their offer, like you explained, it is DEFINITELY WORTH IT, and would be more beneficial! Have a good day!
Just wanted to chime in that I switched from AAA, because they had horrible customer service when I got into an accident. A car hit mine and I ended up rear-ending a 3rd vehicle. The driver behind me then drove off. When I called AAA, they flat out told me that I would be held 100% at-fault, without even sending an agent to assess the damage or giving me a chance to send them the pictures I took during the accident. Long story short, I was left with an at-fault accident on my record and double the premium rates. Thanks, AAA!
it seems to me that your gripe is that they told you right away it was your fault. they saved you the time and effort of waiting to know. The situation you explained, is your fault. it appears you’re maybe upset that it is your fault. that’s not AAA’s fault. next time maybe you’ll see that the customer service automatically isn’t bad just because its not the news you wanted to hear.
Geico has no accident forgiveness, in my opinion it is one of the con game lies they tell to appear to be competitive with agencies that do. After years of no accidents, we had a minor bumper bender due to icy roads, when the policy came up for renewal, they tried to charge more than double the previous premiums.
Yes, Geico does have Accident forgiveness. Check again.
I can relate – GEICO increased my premium by 31% – and I did not file a claim. I had an off-road motorcycle mishap, no motorcycle damage, no claim, no witness, no other parties involved, etc., but I did go to the doctor. The doctors office wanted more than my health insurance paid, so I had to contact GEICO to let them let the doctor know that I did not have personal injury coverage. Well, GEICO turned this into a claim, assessed me 4 insurance surcharge points for “loss of control” of a vehicle, and raised my rates 31%. I asked about accident forgiveness, having been covered for 7 years and no claims, but nope….. no forgiveness…. still gouged. After discussing with Customer Service Representatives, I now know that I would be better off if I let my motorcycle tumble down the mountain next time – pay my $500 deductible, get cash compensation, and have a chance for actual accident forgiveness.
I wonder about accident forgiveness of Nationwide. Are they gonna forgiven after 3 or 5 years, or they not gonna forgive anything after the first forgiveness. And how long the accident record will stay.
Liberty Mutual lies about their so-called accident forgiveness. My husband tapped a car in front of him going about 3 MPH at a rotary, no damage to the other car and a ding to his bumper. We were told he had accident forgiveness and our costs were not going to go up. Well, we just got our policy and it has gone up $500 this year!! I called Liberty and was told this is because of my husband’s accident and he now has 3 points added on to his driving record so he doesn’t qualify for the safe driving discount anymore. The whole accident forgiveness thing is a sham because now they just get you with this crock of eliminating the safe driving discount. We will be looking for a new insurance company.
Ever wonder why they all say switching could save you up to $450? Could this be the agents portion ( his profit) on for getting you to switch? These companies know they’ll get several renewals out of you before you switch again.
I ran off the shoulder of a street and hit a road sign. The damage to the sign was slight. I am aware now that these steel poles are made of some very sturdy stuff. The damage to my fender, door, and headlight was $2100.
This happened after 4 years and 7 months with Allstate so, sorry, but no forgiveness for you! Oh, and please renew at your higher rate that is $500 more than last time! Never mind that this is your first accident since 1984 and that you haven’t gotten a ticket since 2001 ( for a rolling stop).
There is no escape. Resistance is futile.
I have had Liberty Mutual for my auto & homeowners since 2006 and have never submitted a claim until last year. I was rear-ended at a stop sign; damage to my car was minimal; no damage to the car that hit me; no injuries resulted; I did not receive a citation. Since 2006 my rates have risen 6% per year, despite increasing my deductibles from $250 to $1000. My premium this year has gone up by 12% over last year. Some accident forgiveness!
This morning I got 5 quotes from other top name companies. Liberty Mutual exceeded the highest quote by several hundred dollars. The companies with significantly cheaper rates are: AARP The Hartford, Travelers, & Farmers. Allstate was a bit less expensive, beating Liberty Mutual by only about $100. By going with Farmers I am able to save $472 on homeowners and $422 on the auto policy.
So i recently got in an accident. And I am 19 and a new driver. IF I were to get a whole policy of my own in my name would the accide t forgiveness be able to look PAST my accident and not hold it against me. Or would I have to already be insured by that company and get in a wreck to actually get the accident forgiveness. HELP I need answers FAST :( thankyou
Hi Savannah –
I work for a large insurance company and am somewhat familiar with the accident forgiveness policy of the majority of major insurers. Typically, accident forgiveness only applies if you get into an accident while insured with a company that ‘forgives’ accidents – meaning you would already have to have accident forgiveness in place with your current company in order to take advantage of that feature. If you are switching carriers, most will not forgive the recent accident since it happened while insured elsewhere.
The accident itself being rated right away is a different story, and is handled differently by each company. Some companies will, for accuracy purposes, only rate on items that come back in your driving record or loss history reports; these usually take 30 days or more to update in the system. Others will rate you based on what incidents YOU report to them, in which case you would have to disclose the accident and be rated immediately. Either way the accident will eventually be rated (depending on how frequently your company re-runs consumer reports). I hope this information helps!
My husband and I have been with Liberty Mutual for over 6 years. We also had accident forgiveness with Liberty Mutual. This year I had a minor accident totaling less than $800 in property damage. When it was time for policy renewal a few months afterwards we received a noticed that our auto insurance would increase due to my accident unless my husband drop me off the policy he could keep the same low rate. Well that did not sit right with us. Of course I called Liberty Mutual to voice my complaint to no avail. I told them that they should remove the false advertisement I see almost everday on the commercial and I told them I was droping our coverage. Thank you Liberty Mutual for increasing my auto insurance because I wouldn’t have turned to Geico who by the way gave me an even better rate and coverage.
I purchased for the first time in 2/2015 last year a new SUV, I also purchased gap insurance and accident forgiveness.. I have not been in an accident for quite sometime years and if I was, it was always the other drivers fault. I drive carefully. Since I purchased this vehicle, I only had 3k miles on, parked and someone backed into my door while it was parked, np, she left a note; then a rock hit my windshield, np didn’t replace the glass, just bonded the little crack, now I am in a rotary in 6/2015 and I get sideswiped from an oncoming car, not only did she cut in front of me, she stopped while the traffic was going (texting) i dont now; and my drivers side clipped her in the back, we know all about these charges hitting someone from behind, I had the police there and she said this was the third time this has happened to her – my insurance company while my surcharge is in appeal – sent me my new policy increased by $400.00 – the rmv has it down as a major accident with 4 points and a glass loss; so even though its in appeal – this Hanover insurance/citizens tagged it on even though they saw the accident forgiveness. she tells me the rates went up – they lie and they tried to steer me away from the body shop that i wanted to go to. The body shop told me. so now because i have friends at the rmv and also at the board of appeals.. I am going to place a complaint with mass state insurance as we all know this state is crazy. why did I even purchase it? I am trying to go to another insurance company and I am working quickly to get this surcharged lifted. these insurance companies are terrible they are just as bad as comcast cable. it doesn’t work – well with Hanover/citizens.. who gets increased 400 and the insurance co said its the rates? oh and then they double the accident forgiveness- do they not look at 10+ years of no accidents – man what a headache… any thoughts. thanks
Sorry to burst all your bubbles but Geico also speaks forked tounge. They hit you’re check book with there so called accident forgiveness POLICY.
Actually you got one thing wrong on Allstate. Allstate’s base policy has the same 5 years accident free with the company and you get 1 accident forgiven. The “forgiveness at a price” is for immediate accident forgiveness. Which your beloved Liberty Mutual also does. Allstate goes one up and gives not only the 1 accident on Gold Protection with $100 off the collision deductible every 6 months you are accident free, the Platinum policy gives you multiple accidents free – great for multi-car households, deductible rewards, AND 5% back for being accident free each 6 months.
Difference between Allstate and Liberty Mutual’s accident forgiveness? Liberty mutual will still take your safe driving discount away.
So while your article does serve a purpose, it’s still lacking a lot of info. Like the % you would be surcharged without accident forgiveness. Farmers surcharges over 50% for one accident, Progressive 25%. Allstate’s is the lowest, under 10%. Liberty Mutual actually doesn’t disclose their surcharge amount.
Liberty counts glass replacement in their accident forgiveness. So if you need your windshield replaced and get in a accident later, the accident will count against your next renewal.
I realize this is very old, but I had an accident and it was forgiven with the Accident Forgiveness Policy with Arbella. My car died and I leased a new one and had to change plates for some reason for the lease. Anyway, I noticed that I was listed as a “3” In Mass for the forgiven accident on my renewal. I called and was told that because my plate changed, the forgiven accident doesn’t count any longer. Does anyone know if that is true? If you lease a car and change plates, you loose your accident forgiveness? It sounds as if it’s tied to your plate not so much your license. Thanks.