Typically, auto accidents (and traffic offenses) will affect your car insurance rates for three, five or seven years, but there are many variations on the length of time accidents stay on your driving record, depending on what state you live in.
If you've had several accidents, you may be considered a high-risk driver and have to switch to non-standard auto insurance.
Each state has its own laws and guidelines for how long accidents and traffic violations stay on a person's motor vehicle record. The easiest way to find out how long a specific accident or traffic offense will remain on your state driving history is to check with your state's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
For example, the New York DMV lists accidents on the record of every driver that is involved in the accident, but does not assign fault. An accident normally remains on a New York driving record for the year that the accident occurred and the following three calendar years.
In comparison, the Texas Department of Public Safety keeps moving violations and accidents on a driver's record for five years, with the exception of serious offenses such as DUI, which stay indefinitely.
All Texas crashes that are investigated by a police officer are recorded on the individual's driver record. The record does not indicate fault but shows the date and location of the crash.
How long an accident will affect your car insurance rates will also vary, either because of state laws or your car insurance company's internal guidelines. Some states say how long auto insurers can surcharge (raise your rates) for an accident or traffic violation conviction, while other states leave it up to the car insurance company.
If an accident has raised your rates, compare insurance companies to find the one that will offer you the most affordable rates.