Statistically speaking, the average driver will be in a car accident once every 17 to 18 years. Those accidents often result in citations, as well as insurance claims for property damages and possibly bodily injury. Knowing that these factors have an effect on the price you pay for coverage, you may wonder what to tell car insurance agencies about old accidents when you start shopping for a new policy.
Whether you were responsible for an accident, a victim of another person’s negligence, or involved in a collision that you had no control over, your agent needs to know about it.
When You Can Keep an Accident to Yourself
There are very few situations when you might be able to avoid reporting an accident to your car insurance agency. Typically, these are isolated to minor accidents that did not involve other people, did not result in a claim and did not incur a citation. Usually, these are cases in which minor damage was isolated to your personal vehicle, like that time when you accidentally backed into the basketball post in your driveway.
Driving Records and CLUE Reports Tell the Truth
Regardless of what you tell your agent, the car insurance company will always find out the truth about your driving history.
Two reports – your driving record and the CLUE report – contain detailed information about the accidents you may have had in the past. Together, these two reports make it possible for insurance companies to verify everything you tell them about previous accidents and claims, whether you willingly volunteer that information or not. So even if you see an increase in rates after an insurer pays a claim, you cannot undo the damage by simply moving to a new insurance company.
You can get a copy of your own driving record from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation for $7 if you want to know what details have been reported in it. Here in Wisconsin, citations for most traffic accidents remain on your driving record for about 5 years. However, any serious offenses, such as DUIs or other alcohol-related offenses, may remain on your record for many years to come.
CLUE reports are a different type of report that contains information about any claims you may have made with past insurers in the previous 7 years. CLUE is an extensive database that contains your personal information, as well as a record of all the claims insurance companies have paid on your behalf. It can also contain information about claims you made but were denied payment for.
An Accident Doesn’t Have to Result in High Premiums
Fortunately, a history of one or two accidents does not have to doom you to unaffordable coverage. Every insurance company has different ways of calculating a driver’s risk, and some place less emphasis on a single accident or a fender bender that occurred more than two or three years ago.
If you work with an independent car insurance agency such as Smith Insurance & Financial Services, you can easily sift through quotes from multiple insurance companies to determine which will best accommodate any blemishes in your driving record or claims history.