The New York DMV maintains records of your accidents for three years from the end of the year in which the crash occurred. If an accident has been on your record for longer than three years, it will disappear on January 1 of the following year.

Some accidents remain on your record for longer, especially if they involve criminal activity, reckless conduct, or death because of gross negligence or an intentional act.

Insurance companies vary on how long of a period they use to determine their premiums, but most tend towards using a three-year lookback period except in extreme circumstances. Keep reading for more from a skilled Suffolk County car accident lawyer.

how long does a car accident affect your insurance

Car accidents and insurance premiums: Your rights and protections under New York law

New York state law prohibits a non-commercial motor vehicle insurance carrier from increasing the cost of insurance premiums (adding a surcharge) after most types of minor accidents.

Specifically, New York Consolidated Laws §2335 mentions the following situations where an insurer is not allowed to increase your rates:

  • Any accident that was filed solely under your comprehensive coverage.
  • Any accident where the damages totaled less than $2,000 and there were no deaths or physical injuries.
  • Any temporary license suspension related to a traffic or criminal law violation will be removed once the driver performs a certain act, such as paying off a fine.
  • Any accident that occurred while the driver was covered by a commercial insurance policy, provided that the accident wasn’t caused by an intentional act or gross negligence.

Another protection §2335 offers is that an insurance carrier can’t raise your rates after certain traffic infractions unless those infractions occurred just before the policy coverage began. The specific timeframe is that a conviction for a traffic infraction must have occurred within 36 months (three years) ending just before the start of three months before your effective policy date. 

When do car accidents affect premiums in New York?

The law makes it clear that these protections go away after two or more accidents have occurred within New York’s three-year lookback period.

Insurance companies are risk-averse, so if you’re involved in multiple accidents or responsible for a collision that causes serious property damage or bodily injury, then your premiums could go up significantly, sometimes as much as 40%. Although insurance companies are prohibited from looking at your driving record more than three years back, serious accidents or other traffic violations could affect your insurance premiums.

For example, if you’re charged with a DUI or DWI, you may see a significant increase in your premiums if the insurance company doesn’t drop you altogether. If you were drinking or using drugs and driving and got in a collision, the carrier could refuse to insure you anymore.

How much might my premiums go up after a car accident in Suffolk County?

How much your premiums increase after a New York car accident depends on a few things:

  • Did you cause more than $50,000 in damages?
  • Who your carrier is and its policies
  • Were you charged with DUI, DWI, or reckless driving?
  • Is this your second or more accident within the last three years?

Your premiums could go up a little or a lot, depending on the circumstances surrounding any accidents you were in.

Does an accident in a rental car affect my insurance?

It can. The steps you take after a rental car accident are similar to those you’d take after an accident in your car. But, you also have to notify the rental car company as well as your own insurance company about the crash. Per New York law, you aren’t responsible for damages over your auto insurance policy. Your policy should cover the full amount of damage to the rental vehicle.

If another driver caused the accident, you still have to file your own PIP claim since New York is a no-fault state for auto accidents. However, if your damages exceed your coverage and any supplemental auto rental coverage you purchased from the rental car company, you’ll probably have to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver to recover full compensation for your losses.

Get answers from a Suffolk County car accident lawyer

Several situations can cause car insurance premiums to rise after a car accident. The specifics depend entirely on the insurance carrier you use and whether your accident involved any special circumstances.

If you have concerns about the consequences of an accident, especially one that has left you with medical bills your no-fault personal injury protection (PIP) insurance can’t cover, don’t hesitate to speak with an experienced car accident lawyer in Suffolk County.

Schedule a free, no-obligation case review with Carner & DeVita today when you call (631) 543-7070 or contact us online.