Updated June 25, 2019  - Some days, luck isn’t on your side. Even good drivers can cause an accident. Since being found at fault for an accident can lead to your insurance rates skyrocketing, accident forgiveness can sound like a great addition to your auto insurance policy. But is accident forgiveness worth it?

Let’s take a look at what accident forgiveness is, how it works and whether it might be worth it for you to purchase this extra coverage.

What is accident forgiveness insurance?

Allstate, Nationwide, Progressive, State Farm, GEICO and other major insurance carriers offer an insurance add-on called “accident forgiveness,” usually to their best customers. This coverage helps protect customers from a rise in their rates if they cause were to cause an auto accident. The forgiveness is usually a one-time deal. Keep in mind that once you’ve had an accident forgiven, it’s unlikely your insurer will forgive another.

How does accident forgiveness work?

Being at-fault in an auto accident can cause insurance rates to rise significantly. With accident forgiveness, if you have a clean driving record, the insurer will forgive the first accident you cause and won’t raise your premium. Your deductible could also drop each year afterwards that you don’t have an accident.

The details differ by company. Some may give accident forgiveness immediately, while others may require up to five years of not having an accident under the policy before they’ll forgive one.

How often an insurer forgives also varies. Most forgive just the first at-fault accident, though some will start the forgiveness clock again in three to six years. Some may also require a driver not to have any moving violations for three years.

Accident forgiveness is often extended to other drivers on your policy. Nationwide, for example, extends it to teen drivers, but it can only be used for one forgiven accident per policy.

Buying the additional coverage is optional, but Nationwide says that the price can more than offset the rate increase that would kick in after an accident. An additional rate increase after an accident could make finding good insurance coverage more difficult, according to Nationwide.

Safeco Insurance, a Liberty Mutual company, has what it calls a Rewind program that forgives an at-fault accident immediately and doesn’t require several years of claims-free history. To participate, users must install a telematics device into their car to collect data as they drive, including speed, quick starts and hard stops. The data is collected after four months to determine how safe the driver is and if the accident will be forgiven. Instead of proving you’re a safe driver before causing an accident, Rewind allows drivers to prove it afterwards.

Is accident forgiveness worth it?

Drivers who buy this extra insurance may be getting a deal, especially if they have a teenage driver — a demographic prone to accidents. It may not be such a deal for good drivers, who are essentially buying extra insurance for something that may not happen, because they’re good drivers anyway.

Safe drivers with clean driving records may not benefit by buying accident forgiveness because they should already have low rates, or at least have standard policies. An insurance policy is meant to protect against claims for damages from an accident caused by the policyholder. Buying more insurance, some critics say, is an unnecessary expense.

Having teenage drivers may already result in higher insurance rates from the increased risk. Buying accident forgiveness insurance could help ease the pain of rates going up after a child’s first accident, no matter how small.

Bottom Line

To help determine if the cost of adding on accident forgiveness insurance would be worthwhile for you, ask your insurer how much your rates would rise if you caused an accident. This information should be available in a surcharge schedule that outlines percentage increases from specific infractions. If the potential rate hike is less than the cost of the added insurance, then it probably isn’t worth getting.

Looking for advice on whether accident forgiveness makes sense for you or other ways to save on your auto insurance? Give an insurance advisor a call at (844) 300-3364 to review your options.

Or compare real car insurance quotes online with our free tool:

Aaron Crowe is a freelance journalist who covers insurance and personal finance for a variety of websites, including at his website CashSmarter.com.