If you cause an accident, having this valuable car insurance endorsement on your auto policy may help you avoid the rate increase insurance carriers typically charge when you’re at fault.
A car accident is often over and done with in just a matter of seconds. But the steps you typically need to complete after a crash can take several weeks or longer. Even if it’s just a fender bender in which no one is seriously hurt, you’ll probably need to file a claim with your insurance company, have an insurance adjuster assess the damage to your vehicle, and schedule an appointment to get your car repaired. Once you’ve taken care of all of that, you’ll no doubt be eager to put the entire incident behind you. However, it might not be that easy to forget about it, especially when you see that a significant rate hike has been applied to your car insurance premium. On the other hand, if you have an accident forgiveness endorsement, the accident might not be entirely forgotten by your insurance company, but, as the name suggests, it may be forgiven. What does this mean for you? Well, primarily, it means you’re saving money. If keeping more cash in your bank account sounds good to you, then let Austin tell you some additional details about this optional coverage.
How does accident forgiveness work?
If you have accident forgiveness and you are in an at-fault accident involving another vehicle, you’ll still have to go through the same process of filing a claim, having the damage to your car assessed, and getting your vehicle repaired. The difference is, with an accident forgiveness endorsement, you may not have to worry about it having a direct impact on your car insurance premium at renewal time.
Any time you renew your car insurance policy, your carrier will consider several factors when setting your new premium, including any accidents you’ve been in over the policy term. If you’ve been in an at-fault accident with another vehicle, they are likely to add a car insurance surcharge—essentially an additional fee—to your policy that will raise your premium. If you have accident forgiveness, however, they “forgive” you for causing the accident and waive the surcharge.
It’s important to keep in mind, though, that even if the carrier doesn’t raise your rates because of an accident, points will still be added to your driving record. So, if you want to switch insurance companies, any new carriers will be able to see that you were in an at-fault accident and will take that into consideration when setting your rates.
If we’ve further piqued your curiosity about accident forgiveness, please read on. The following four details will give you a fuller picture of how accident forgiveness works:
- You’ll need to meet certain eligibility requirements. To be eligible for an accident forgiveness endorsement, you generally need to have a clean driving record over a certain amount of time—sometimes up to five years. Some of the factors the insurance company may take into account include whether you’ve gotten into any accidents, been cited for any traffic violations, or gotten any speeding tickets during that time. In addition, some insurance carriers might consider how long you’ve been a customer with them as part of the eligibility process.
- Your coverage may extend to other drivers listed on your auto policy. If you have accident forgiveness, the benefits will typically be available to other drivers listed on your car insurance policy—such as your spouse—as long as they also meet the eligibility requirements. However, if you have someone on your policy who does not meet the eligibility requirements, they usually won’t be covered by the accident forgiveness endorsement. For example, teenagers often do not have enough driving experience to qualify for accident forgiveness even if they’re on your policy and you have this endorsement.
- You can only be forgiven one time per policy. It’s important to know that accident forgiveness applies to your car insurance policy as a whole, not to each individual person on your policy. So, let’s say you are in an at-fault accident and end up using your accident forgiveness benefits. Then, a few months later, your spouse is in an accident that is deemed to be their fault. In that case, the benefits won’t be available to your spouse because you’ve already used them. To become eligible again, you’ll need to build up a clean driving record over the number of years designated by your insurance company.
- You need to be the one to report the accident to your insurance company. If your carrier learns about the accident from someone other than you, like the other driver who was involved in the crash or their insurance company, your accident forgiveness benefits may not be available. So, please be sure to report your accident right away to your local insurance professional. At Austin, we have a dedicated team member who will help facilitate the claims process with your insurance company. Or, if it’s after normal business hours, you can call your insurer directly so the process can get started right away. Most of the carriers we work with enable you to easily and conveniently file a claim online.
The four accident forgiveness endorsement features we’ve described are meant to provide a general overview of this type of car insurance option. Often, these and other aspects of the program will vary depending on the insurance company you work with. That’s why it’s always a good idea to talk over your options with an experienced insurance professional like Austin, who can help you think through important insurance decisions such as adding an endorsement to your auto policy.
Austin can help you determine if having Accident Forgiveness is a smart move for you.
How do you know for certain that accident forgiveness is an option you can or should take advantage of? Well, that’s where Austin comes in. Because we know that each insurance company’s accident forgiveness program is going to be unique, we understand that getting a handle on all the different options may be a bit overwhelming.
For example, some insurance companies allow you to purchase an accident forgiveness endorsement after everyone on your policy has gone one, three, or five years without getting into an at-fault accident, while other carriers have additional eligibility requirements.
In addition, sometimes accident forgiveness benefits can be applied to minor traffic violations, while other times they can only be used if you’ve had an at-fault accident. It’s also possible for an insurance company to have separate “tiers” of accident forgiveness based on the dollar amount of the claim.
Is your head spinning yet? Don’t worry! The Austin team will comb through the details of your insurance company’s accident forgiveness program along with programs offered by other carriers we work with and help you understand everything you need to know to make an informed decision.
If for some reason you don’t qualify to enroll in accident forgiveness coverage right now, we will also be happy to look into other car insurance endorsements, credits, and discounts that might be available to you and could help you save money, such as bundle and save, gap insurance, disappearing deductible, and more.