D. Gilson is a writer and author of essays, poetry, and scholarship that explore the relationship between popular culture, literature, sexuality, and memoir. His latest book is Jesus Freak, with Will Stockton, part of Bloomsbury’s 33 1/3 Series. His other books include I Will Say This Exactly One Time and Crush. His first chapbook, Catch & Release, won the 2012 Robin Becker Prize from Seve...

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Reviewed by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer

UPDATED: Sep 29, 2021

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Just the Basics

  • Ensure you’ve secured new coverage before canceling your previous policy
  • Insurance companies pay out any claims filed before a policy is canceled
  • A single car accident increases car insurance rates by an average of $81 per month

The stress of a car accident shouldn’t be made worse by a provider with a poor claims center. But is it bad to change car insurance after an accident? Changing your car insurance policy after an accident is not necessarily bad, but it is uncommon.

However, as long as you file your claim and secure new coverage before canceling your previous policy, you can typically switch insurance companies at any time.

But never expect two providers to cover one accident, as that would be car insurance fraud.

Keep reading to learn your options for getting insurance after an accident and prevent potential rate increases.

After discovering how to buy car insurance after an accident, remember to enter your ZIP code into our free rate tool above to compare quotes from the best providers near you.

What should I consider before switching companies after an accident?

If you’re unsatisfied with your insurance provider, you have a right to switch to a new company, even if you’ve recently been involved in an accident.

Your provider must close out any open claims that were made before canceling the policy.

However, there are a few things to consider before you cancel your previous coverage. First, if you were at fault, know that car insurance quotes after an accident increase by around $81 per month.

Even if you aren’t at fault, you could still see an increase in your premiums of up to 32%.

But your current policy won’t reflect any increases until it’s up for renewal. In comparison, a new policy reflects your most recent accident in its rates immediately.

Compare how an at-fault accident impacts annual car insurance rates from the leading providers in the table below.

Average Annual Car Insurance Rates After an Accident by Company
CompanyAverage Annual Car Insurance Rates With a Clean RecordAverage Annual Car Insurance Rates with 1 At-Fault Accident
Allstate$3,819.90$4,987.68
American Family$2,693.61$3,722.75
Farmers$3,460.60$4,518.73
GEICO$2,145.96$3,192.77
Liberty Mutual$4,774.30$6,204.78
Nationwide$2,746.18$3,396.95
Progressive$3,393.09$4,777.04
State Farm$2,821.18$3,396.01
Travelers$3,447.69$4,289.74
USAA$1,933.68$2,516.24
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Also, ensure you avoid a lapse in coverage by securing a new policy before canceling your old one.

In most states, it’s against the law to go without car insurance. Plus, even a one-day gap in coverage causes premiums to increase.

You might also lose discounts and other perks earned through your previous insurer, including any customer loyalty discounts you’ve accumulated over the years.

This applies to home and auto bundles, multi-policy deals, and multi-car discounts as well. Plus, if you only switch your car insurance, then you’ll have two providers to deal with for home and car needs.

Some providers also charge cancellation fees if you cancel and it’s not the end of your term. Typically, you pay 10% of your remaining premium or a one-time, flat fee ranging from $20 to $50.

However, if you paid in advance for a portion of your policy, you might receive a prorated refund.

But if you’re trying to find new coverage before the most recent accident is added to your driving record, you’re out of luck.

You will be asked about any prior accidents during the risk assessment portion of the underwriting process, and lying on your application is a form of insurance fraud.

According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), insurance fraud costs the average American family between $400 and $700 each year.

Typically, providers look at the last three to five years of your driving history using detailed records. So claiming you forgot to mention an accident won’t allow you to keep your cheaper rates.

Instead, the provider will present you with an adjusted quote, or they will deny your coverage altogether.

Similarly, never expect two companies to cover a single accident. Only the provider you used at the time of the accident can cover the cost of damages.

So file your claim through the appropriate provider before canceling your policy.

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How can you lower your car insurance premiums after a car accident?

Now that you know you can switch to a new car insurance provider with an open claim, we have a few simple tips to help you reduce the cost of car insurance after an accident.

Whether you’re shopping around for a new provider or sticking with your current one, ask about discounts you can earn.

Some discounts only apply to your policy once you’ve actually talked to an insurance agent for that provider.

If this isn’t your first accident, sign up for a defensive driving course. This responsible decision could lead to a minor rate reduction from your current provider or a new one.

Similarly, consider finding car insurance with accident forgiveness.

If you invest in collision or comprehensive coverage, increase your deductibles for lower monthly premiums. Just be sure to pick a level you can afford to pay for out of pocket comfortably.

Finally, you might also consider adjusting your coverage levels, especially if you drive an older vehicle.

Basic liability-only policies are always cheaper than full coverage policies.

What steps should you take after a car accident?

After a car accident occurs, inform your insurer immediately. Provide photos of the accident scene if necessary, as well as a copy of any police reports.

Follow the claims process outlined in your policy paperwork.

For example, if you do not notify your provider about an accident on time and the other driver pursues legal action, your provider could revoke your coverage.

If you decide to find a new car insurance company after an accident, wait until your claim is submitted and in the system.

Also, you should make sure that you’ve secured a new policy and that this new policy is actually in effect.

Remember, it’s better to go a few days with double the coverage than to risk a policy lapse.

Is it bad to change car insurance after an accident? The Bottom Line

While switching car insurance after an accident is not necessarily bad, it’s also not very common.

You can secure affordable car insurance after an accident. But most people wait until the month before their policy renewal to switch insurers.

However, if you’re unsatisfied with your car insurance provider, you have a right to switch at any time.

Just be careful to avoid any policy lapses, know what to look for in a good policy, and weigh the pros and cons of switching, like losing discounts.

Now that you’re prepared to secure affordable car insurance rates after an accident, enter your ZIP code into our free tool below and immediately compare quotes from the top companies near you.