Skip to main content

Several risks come along with operating a motor vehicle. Unfortunately, having a car accident is one of the major ones. This is regardless of whether you’re at fault or not. There are also numerous consequences that come along with car accidents, one of which is that it impacts your driving record. In fact, a collision of any type could be on your record for longer than you think.

How long are car accidents on your driving record?

Most people only think of car insurance when they consider how long an accident stays on your record. However, a car accident typically remains longer than the time frame insurance companies will count these occurrences against drivers. According to Credible, accidents can remain on your driving record for up to seven years. It could be longer for more serious accidents.

letting your car insurance lapse isn't cheap
Car accident | monkeybusinessimages via iStock

However, most insurance companies won’t go back that far. Typically, they will look at accidents from the last three to five years when determining your eligibility or rate. Some people may assume that taking classes such as defensive driving education will remove accidents from your record sooner. However, despite them being helpful, this is not the case.

Drivers can request their official driving record from their state’s Office of Motor Vehicles.

How accidents impact drivers

Having car accidents on your driving record can drastically impact your life. There can be long-lasting physical and mental harm that manifests in various ways. However, the impact is also financial. Being involved in a car accident can cause your insurance rates to increase by up to 42%. This is a significant change in price and could make car insurance unaffordable for some people.

Drivers should note that the average price increase for non at fault driver is closer to 10%. However, this will depend on the state in question.

Of course, there may be other costs associated with causing a car accident beyond how long it’s on your driving record. For starters, drivers who are at fault could be sued for a variety of reasons, including medical care and loss of wages. Also, if you’re still paying for your car and don’t have gap insurance, your regular auto coverage may not cover the cost of the vehicle, which means you’re still on the hook for the balance.

Drivers should also know that too many car accidents on your record could lead to your driver’s license being suspended for a period of time.

Naturally, most people don’t go out looking to get into a car accident. However, it’s still necessary to understand how they can impact your insurance costs and how long they stay on your driving record. It’s also important to check your driving record to ensure everything is accurate. Following your state and local driving laws can also help prevent car accidents.