Almost everyone who drives often will eventually be involved in an accident. You will either hit something, or someone will hit your vehicle. Either way, you will have been in an accident. How it affects your car insurance and for how long depends on whether you were at fault and if your insurance company had to pay a claim.
Some accidents will not ever affect your rates.
There are a variety of accidents that will not tarnish your driving record. If an accident is not your fault, there is a good chance you will not be penalized for it. Any accident where your insurer does not have to pay out a claim will probably not even be a factor in determining your insurance premium.
Being hit by an uninsured driver should not increase your rates.
Your car insurance company will often have to pay a claim when you are hit by an uninsured motorist. Of course, you have to have collision insurance with uninsured motorist coverage to get paid. These accidents will not increase your rates unless you start having several of them close together. The same is true for hit and run accidents.
Many insurance companies will not raise your rates for a single accident.
As long as your accident claims can be spaced out with three to five years between them, you may never see a rate increase if you stay with the same company. The problem comes when you want to change companies too soon after an accident. A similar situation occurs if you have another claim too soon. Even if it was not your fault, your rates will rise.
The length of time that an accident claim can affect your insurance rates varies.
Almost all companies will ignore accident claims that are more than five years old. If you have been accident-free for five or more years, your rates should have gone down. When five years have passed, it is a good time to shop for new insurance. Frequently, the company that paid your claim will leave your rates higher than another company looking for new business.
Some insurance companies will only look back three years for accident claims.
Not all of these insurers will completely ignore your accidents between three and five years. The older accident claims will carry less weight on your rate determination. Other companies simply choose to only consider the last three years. When shopping for insurance, always ask about this issue if you had a claim less than five years ago.