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How much does car insurance go up after an accident?

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While car insurance can be a huge financial help in the event of an accident, it comes at a cost. Whether you were at fault or not, and even if you don’t make a claim, your insurance premium will likely increase when you renew it, potentially by hundreds of pounds a year, following an accident. There are, however, some steps you can take to mitigate this jump and still get cheap car insurance.

The immediate aftermath of an accident

If you do have an accident, say you hit a parked car or suffered a rear-end collision, there are certain steps you have to take, including:

  • Stopping your vehicle at a safe place
  • Calling 999 in the event of an injury, or if you suspect a ‘crash for cash’ scheme
  • Collecting as much information as possible about the accident – not just date, time and location, but weather, traffic and road conditions, vehicle details, such as make and model, the amount of damage and any witnesses
  • Taking pictures of the damaged cars where appropriate
  • Swapping personal information and insurance details with anyone else involved in the accident
  • Informing your insurer as soon as you can

When it comes to making a car insurance claim, your policy will dictate the maximum amount of time you have after the accident to get in contact before your insurance becomes invalid. This could range between two days to two weeks, so make a note when you first take out your policy.

You will need to give your insurance provider all the information mentioned above – that’s as many details as you have surrounding the accident, alongside the name, address, contact information, vehicle registration number and insurance details of any other drivers involved.

Even if you don’t want to make a claim, you still have to inform your insurance provider that you’ve had an accident. In this instance, you should make it clear to your insurer that you have no intention of making a claim, and to not automatically settle if the other driver’s provider tries to make a claim without you knowing. If you fail to let your insurer know, and they find out you had an accident, your insurance may be declared void.

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The no claims bonus impact

Every year you don’t make a car insurance claim, you can receive a discount on your premium. This is your no claims bonus. And this bonus is in danger when you have an accident.

Whether or not you lose your no claims bonus depends on the details of the accident, your policy, and how you chose to pay for repairs. Although the specifics will vary from insurer to insurer, you can expect that:

  • If you have an accident, but choose to pay for the repairs yourself, you won’t lose your no claims bonus. So it’s always worth weighing up the cost of the repairs against how much your premium would go up without your no claims discount.
  • If you have an accident that wasn’t your fault and make a claim, your no claims bonus may be protected. It depends on whether your insurer can recover all the costs from the at-fault driver’s insurance provider. If the other driver doesn’t have insurance, or doesn’t agree it was their fault, you may lose some or all of your no claims bonus.
  • If you have an accident that was your fault and make a claim, you will lose some, or all, of your no claims bonus. It depends on how many years’ no claims bonus you have built up. Normally, a claim won’t automatically wipe away all of your no claims bonus, but it might push it back a number of years. So, for example, if you have five years of no claims discounts and your insurer states a claim will knock off two years of bonuses, then you would still be left with a three year no claims discount.

There are other factors that will determine whether or not your no claims bonus is affected after an accident. For example, replacing or repairing your windscreen via a claim normally won’t affect your no claims bonus. 

For a fee, you could also take out no claims bonus protection. This would allow you to make a set number of claims over a certain period of time without reducing your no claims bonus. But while this protection may preserve your no claims bonus, it won’t stop your premium from rising after an accident.

Factors determining the rate hike

Just as with your no claims bonus, the impact of an accident on your insurance premium depends on a variety of factors. 

At-fault vs non-fault claims

Arguably the most important factor that dictates how much your insurance costs will increase is whether you are making an at-fault or non-fault claim.

At-fault claims will have the biggest impact on your car insurance premium, as you will be labelled a higher-risk driver. An at-fault claim is not only when you have caused the accident, but also if your insurer cannot establish who was responsible, or it cannot recover all of its costs. 

While a non-fault claim may still cause your insurance premium to go up, it likely won’t be by as much as in the case of an at-fault claim. Non-fault claims are where the accident wasn’t your responsibility, or where your insurer has been able to recoup all of its costs.

It may seem unfair that your premium would still increase despite an accident not being your fault. However, insurers view drivers who have made a non-fault claim as more likely to get into another accident than those who haven’t.

Your premium shouldn’t stay high forever. If you drive carefully, and try to avoid any further accidents, after three to five years the initial incident should stop affecting the cost of your car insurance.

Severity of the accident

How severe your accident is – or, essentially, how much it costs – will play a role in how much your insurance premium increases. The more severe the accident, the more you can expect your premium to go up. 

Your driving history

If this isn’t your first accident, you can expect a sharper increase in your premium than if it were. This is because you will be viewed as a higher-risk driver

Similarly, if your car accident results in any penalty points, you can expect that to also push up your premium. The more points you have, the bigger the percentage increase in your annual insurance costs.

Average percentage increase in post-accident car insurance premiums in the UK

As with the cost of your car insurance itself, how much your premium will increase after an accident depends on so many variables, from at-fault versus no-fault claims to the severity of the incident.

According to research by Compare the Market, the average increase between a standard pre-accident premium and a quote following an at-fault claim is just over 12 per cent. 

However, that can vary wildly from region-to-region in the UK. For example, the average increase in the City of London was 140.5 per cent – higher than anywhere else in the country – while Wychavon, Worcestershire saw the biggest jump outside the capital, rising 80.5 per cent.

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Ways to mitigate the rate hike

With the cost of car insurance already so expensive, you’ll want to do what you can to bring the price of your premium down post-accident.

While you likely won’t be able to prevent an increase entirely, there are steps you can take to try and limit how much your premium rises:

Comparing quotes

Shopping around for a new policy, rather than automatically renewing with your current provider, is one way you can look to save money.

This isn’t because a new provider won’t be aware of your accident, or any claims you’ve made, but rather because providers will be displaying rates designed to attract new customers. 

Using a price comparison website can be a quick and easy way of finding the right car insurance policy for your needs, at the right price.

Telematics insurance

If you are eligible, you could consider black box insurance, otherwise known as telematics insurance, in order to bring your premium down. Telematics insurance involves installing a device in your car that tracks how and when you drive. By doing this, you can help prove to the insurance provider that you are a safe driver.

Consideration of higher voluntary excess

When you make a claim, your insurance provider will stipulate the amount of excess you need to pay. But you can also choose to pay a voluntary excess, which may reduce your premium.

The higher your voluntary excess – the amount you financially contribute to any claim – the more you may be able to bring the cost of your premium down. But be careful: only increase your voluntary excess to a level you can realistically afford to pay in the event of a future accident.

Attending driving courses

It may be possible to take an advanced driving course with the aim of reducing your car insurance premium. However, before doing so, you should make sure that any course you take is recognised by your insurer. You should also compare the cost of the course with any potential car insurance savings, to make sure it is worth it.

In summary

Accidents happen. And unfortunately, they may cost you in the long term when it comes to your car insurance.

However, by following all the correct steps in the immediate aftermath of your accident, informing your insurer as soon as you can, and being smart when you renew your car insurance, you may be able to limit the overall impact.

FAQ

Most of the time insurers want to know about any claims you have made in the last three to five years. This means that, over time, if you remain accident-free, you will no longer be penalised for those older incidents.

If there is an injury as a result of your accident, you can likely expect the increase to your premium to be higher than if there was no injury at all. And the worse the injury, the higher the potential personal injury claim, meaning the more you may end up paying for car insurance.

Your insurance premium will likely still increase even if you are in an accident that isn’t your fault. However, the price increase should be much smaller than for an accident where you are at fault.

If you want to regain your no claims bonus faster than clocking up a year without making a claim, you could look into ‘bonus accelerator’ policies. These are shorter, 10 month policies, that will allow you to speed up completing a policy with no claims by a couple of months.

Not all insurers accept these shorter policies when you look to transfer your no claims bonus from provider to provider, however, so make sure to do your research beforehand.

There may be certain specialist car insurance providers that offer better quotes to drivers who have had accidents than others. This is often labelled as high risk car insurance. You may also want to consider using a specialist car insurance broker to help you arrange your cover.

Connor Campbell

Finance Writer

Connor Campbell is an experienced personal and business finance writer who has been producing online content for almost a decade. 

Connor is the personal finance expert for Independent Advisor, guiding readers through everything they need to know about car insurance and home insurance. From how much it costs to the best insurance providers in the UK, he’s here to help you find the right policy for your needs. 

In his capacity as writer and spokesperson at NerdWallet, Connor explored a number of topics close to his heart, such as the impact of our increasingly cashless society, and the hardships and heroics of British entrepreneurs. His commentary was featured in sites such as The Mirror, the Daily Express and Business Insider

At financial trading firm Spreadex, meanwhile, his market commentary was featured in outlets such as The Guardian, BBC, Reuters and the Evening Standard

Connor is a voracious reader with an MA in English, and is dedicated to making life’s financial decisions a little bit easier by doing away with jargon and needless complexity.

Amy Reeves

Editor

Amy is a seasoned writer and editor with a special interest in home design, sustainable technology and green building methods.

She has interviewed hundreds of self-builders, extenders and renovators about their journeys towards individual, well-considered homes, as well as architects and industry experts during her five years working as Assistant Editor at Homebuilding & Renovating, part of Future plc.

Amy’s work covers topics ranging from home, interior and garden design to DIY step-by-steps, planning permission and build costs, and has been published in Period Living, Real Homes, and 25 Beautiful Homes, Homes and Gardens.

Now an Editor at the Independent Advisor, Amy manages homes-related content for the site, including solar panels, combi boilers, and windows.

Her passion for saving tired and inefficient homes also extends to her own life; Amy completed a renovation of a mid-century house in 2022 and is about to embark on an energy-efficient overhaul of a 1800s cottage in Somerset.