It goes without saying, but your driving record is one of the most important factors when it comes to the cost of your auto insurance premiums. Traffic citations are just one way that risky or careless behavior behind the wheel could come back to bite you; rack up enough citations and your insurer will begin to see you as a higher risk for them and may adjust your premiums accordingly. In some cases, the risk you present may be so high that your insurance company may no longer be willing to insure you, forcing you to look at other, more expensive options.
But perhaps an even bigger deal is traffic accidents – specifically, those that result in an insurance claim being made, either by you or another party involved in the accident where you are found to be at-fault or partially at-fault. This too, often with other considerations, can indicate to your insurer that you’re a high-risk driver, and therefore, more likely to have future claims, hence the conventional wisdom that you should expect your insurance rate to go up considerably following an at-fault or partially at-fault accident.
Thankfully, that’s not always true, and some insurers – like TD Insurance, for example – offer something called “Accident Forgiveness” that will spare you an increase in your auto insurance premiums due to an at-fault or partially at-fault accident.
Accident forgiveness is basically just that: if you qualify, your insurer “forgives” your next at fault or partially at fault car accident, meaning you won’t see your rate go up just because you’ve been in a collision.
For qualifying drivers, accident forgiveness means that your insurer doesn’t raise your rate just because you’ve been found at-fault in an accident. Your insurer basically says: “This driver has demonstrated a history of being safe and low-risk behind the wheel, so we won’t raise their rate as a result of this one incident.”
Note that we said, “this one incident.” Most insurers, including TD Insurance, provide accident forgiveness for only one accident within a certain period of time. Have a second accident for which you’re found to be fully or partially at-fault within that time frame and you should expect to see your premium increase on your next renewal.
For TD Insurance, that span of time is 6 years, although that doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to have been a TD Insurance customer for 6 years in order to qualify. It simply means that you must be licensed and free of any at-fault accidents for 6 years for the vehicle type for which accident forgiveness is being considered. In other words, if you keep a clean riding record on your motorcycle for 6 years but had an accident 3 years ago in your car, you would be eligible on your motorcycle but not on your car. And importantly, any other drivers listed as occasional operators – whether that be a partner, spouse, child, or other relative – must also be free of at-fault accidents for at least 6 years or for the time they’ve been licensed for the vehicle to qualify.
Generally speaking, if you get a citation or are in an at-fault accident, you’ll see any impact on your price at the time of policy renewal, which typically happens every 12 months. As you approach your renewal, your insurance company will send out your new rate, which would reflect any changes in your driving record amongst other considerations. In the event that you had an at-fault accident in the previous 12 months, you would typically expect your rate to go up upon renewal, however, with accident forgiveness your insurance company effectively waives their right to adjust your premium because of the accident. Now that’s not to say you won’t see an increase at renewal. There are many other factors that go into determining your premium – many of which are outside of your direct control - that could contribute to a premium increase, such as increasing vehicle repair costs or changes to trends in your area that would suggest an increased risk of theft, vandalism, or other incidents.
No! Insurers like TD Insurance extend accident forgiveness not just to regular passenger vehicles like cars, including trucks, and SUVs, but also to motorhomes and motorcycles. It’s also important to note that accident forgiveness typically applies on a per-vehicle basis, meaning each of the vehicles you insure could have accident forgiveness, assuming the listed drivers meet eligibility criteria (like being accident free) and you opted in for this coverage.
With most insurers, changing your vehicle will not impact your eligibility for accident forgiveness. If you’ve kept a clean driving record with your 2010 Volkswagen and you meet all the other qualifications for accident forgiveness, should you decide to trade your VW in for a brand-new Ford, you’re still eligible.
Accident forgiveness is a useful feature to have on your insurance policy, as it can provide financial protection for you, or another driver listed on your policy, if you are partially or completely at-fault for an accident in the future. It affords you some much-needed peace of mind at a critical, stressful time in your life, when you already have more than enough to worry about scheduling vehicle repairs and – heaven forbid – receiving medical care.
But accident forgiveness isn’t for everyone – not only because most insurers are selective about whom they’ll allow to have it on their policy, but also because it often isn’t free. How much it costs will depend largely on who your insurer is and where you live, and possibly the overall price of your policy, but generally it can cost anywhere from $50 to $100 extra each year – sometimes more. You’ll have to weigh that added cost against the potential benefit of the coverage to determine whether it’s a worthwhile expense for you.
Of course, that’s not actually all that much in the grand scheme of things. $100 spread out over 12 months equates to little more than $8 a month – about the same as two cups of fancy organic fair-trade coffee.
One reason it might be especially worth it to consider accident forgiveness is because driving can be so wildly unpredictable, and while you maybe haven’t caused an accident in at least 6 years, that doesn’t mean you can’t be found at-fault in a collision tomorrow. Traffic grows more dense and more chaotic in many places with each passing year, and even the best drivers may be found partially at-fault. With accident forgiveness, your premium will not go up as a result.
Learn more from TD Insurance about Accident Forgiveness, and get an Auto Insurance quote online in minutes.