a file cabinet

How Long Does a Car Accident Stay on Your Insurance Record

November 20, 2023

Going through the potentially traumatic experience of a car accident can be challenging both emotionally and physically, but it can also affect your insurance record. If you’ve recently been in a road accident and wondering how long your insurance will be impacted, this comprehensive guide aims to tackle that question - and others - to give you clarity and reassurance. Let’s take a look.

What Is an Insurance Record?

When it comes to car insurance, an insurance record is a comprehensive log maintained by insurance companies which documents your history as a driver, including claims made, accidents you've been involved in, and any points or penalties on your licence. This record is highly important as it influences your insurance premiums and the offers you receive from insurers.

In the UK in particular, insurance records play a pivotal role in how insurance companies assess risk and determine your insurance costs; a clean record typically results in more favourable insurance rates, while a history of accidents and claims can lead to higher premiums.

How Long Does a Claim Stay on Your Insurance?

The duration a car accident stays on your insurance record in the UK varies, but it is generally between three to five years. This timeframe is crucial for insurers to evaluate the risk level of insuring a driver.

Time Period for Accident Records

Similarly, most UK insurance providers consider a standard period of five years when evaluating your driving history, which means that any accident or claim you’ve been involved in during this time is likely to affect your insurance rates. It's also important to note that even if you're not at fault in an accident, it may still be recorded on your insurance history.

Differences Between Minor and Major Accidents

The nature of the accident plays a significant role in how long it impacts your insurance record: minor accidents, typically involving less damage and lower claims, may have a lesser impact compared to major accidents, which involve significant damage, high claims, or injuries. Major incidents can lead to a more substantial and longer-lasting impact on your insurance record, leading to more costly premiums down the road.

Impact on Insurance Premiums

a person going through a box of files

Almost any accident recorded on your insurance history can lead to an increase in your insurance premiums: this is because post-accident, you’re perceived as a higher risk to the insurer, no matter whether or not the accident was your fault. And if you have the misfortune of being involved in multiple accidents or making several claims within a short period, this can lead to a more significant rise in your insurance costs.

Understanding Insurance Premiums

So, what explains the rise in cost post-accident? It’s simple: insurance premiums are calculated based on a range of factors, including your driving history, the type of car you drive, your age, and even your location. Your insurance record is a key component in this calculation: a history of accidents or claims indicates to insurers that you're more likely to make a claim in the future, thereby increasing your premium.

In short, insurance companies in the UK use your record to assess risk and decide the premium you should pay. Naturally, a driver with a clean record is rewarded with lower premiums, while someone with a history of accidents or claims is categorised as a high-risk driver, resulting in higher premiums.

The Effect of Fault on Your Record

It’s also important to note that when it comes to insurance records, the question of fault (or a non fault claim) is also significant. If you're deemed at fault in an accident, it's likely to have a more pronounced effect on your insurance premiums, while in contrast, a non-fault claim (where another driver is responsible) may have a lesser impact.

However, what’s key is to remember that any claim, regardless of fault, can still influence your insurance record and premiums, and this is because insurers often view any involvement in an accident as an increased risk of claiming.

How to Check Your Insurance Record

In the UK, you can request your insurance record information from your current insurance provider. Additionally, the Claims and Underwriting Exchange (CUE) holds a central record of all motor, home, and personal injury/industrial illness incidents reported to insurance companies, which can be accessed to view your claims history.

The Bottom Line

Ultimately, the standard duration of a car accident on your insurance record is 3-5 years in the UK, but this can vary based on the severity of the accident and whether you were at fault. And whether or not you feel as if the accident was your fault or not, it’s important to remember that all accidents remain on your record; this is why smart, vigilant and safe driving is the key to smaller, more affordable premiums.