Like all motorists, you try your hardest to avoid fender benders. However, you can only control so much. After an accident, you have to deal with the consequences, such as repair costs and medical bills.
Filing a claim for these expenses has the potential to raise your future auto insurance premiums. You may be able to avoid rate increases if your policy includes an accident forgiveness clause.
What Is Accident Forgiveness?
Accident forgiveness is a car insurance policy perk that changes the way providers react to your collisions. The insurer acknowledges and records your accident, but it agrees that it won't add an increase or surcharge to your premium in response.
You should understand that this kind of policy doesn't constitute free rein to drive recklessly or get into multiple accidents without ever incurring a penalty. Some insurers only offer forgiveness for your first incident. Your right to such policies could also be contingent on various other factors.
Who Can Get This Car Insurance Add-on?
Not everyone is eligible to take advantage of forgiveness policies even when insurers advertise them. Some states do not allow accident forgiveness as part of a car insurance policy.
Insurers are supposed to include highly visible disclaimers letting you know that you may not be able to use such programs in your area. It's best to check with your state's insurance commission for confirmation before trying to take out a policy.
Even if you live in a state where your insurer can lawfully offer forgiveness policies, you might still be subject to additional terms and conditions. In many cases, your eligibility depends on whether you satisfy two criteria:
- Driver Loyalty — You must have maintained an auto insurance policy with your provider for a predetermined length of time.
- Driving Record — You need to have a clean driving record that dates back a specified number of years. In addition to your accident history, citations and traffic violations may count against you.
The time frames associated with these requirements vary. For instance, your car insurance provider could ask to see at least five years' worth of accident-free history before it will let you add the forgiveness clause to your policy.
Policies that forgive more than one accident might mandate that you satisfy other criteria to maintain the coverage. Some companies only excuse incidents that they deem to be minor. It's important to read the terms of your forgiveness car insurance clauses carefully.
Does Accident Forgiveness Cost More?
Your car insurance provider may charge you more for adding forgiveness as an endorsement or optional form of coverage. Others include it in your policy but increase their premium base rates. Since individual providers decide the particulars of each policy, however, you should always compare various options. You might be able to find alternative insurers that offer similar protections for better rates.
When gauging the cost of an auto insurance policy that includes forgiveness, you should think about it in terms of how much you'll save after an accident. If you have an unblemished record, this coverage might protect you from significant surcharges after you get into trouble. On the other hand, it may not be worth it if your local traffic poses a constant collision risk or you drive an older, depreciated vehicle.
Is accident forgiveness right for you? It might help you save on your monthly premiums. It's a good idea to check out different auto insurance options to learn about the benefits.