As many drivers know, an accident can cause a huge jump in their insurance rates. Worse accidents tend to have a bigger effect, and other details of the accident (the amount of the claim, the level of fault established, etc.) can also cause a substantial amount of insurance trouble. Therefore, it's important for drivers to know how accidents can affect the cost of their insurance coverage, and what they can do to avoid shocking and expensive jumps in premiums.
The first important thing to realize is that you can't hide an accident from your insurer if it's reported to police. If you get into a fender bender with your neighbor and you offer to pay for his damages, there's no way for your insurer to know this. However, if you get into an accident on the road and the police are called, your insurance company will quickly learn of the accident and may change your premium accordingly. For this reason, if you're involved in an accident, you should call your insurer as quickly as possible. They'll be able to tell you how your rates will be affected. Additionally, they'll often be able to give you advice on the next steps to take in order to minimize the effect on your car insurance policy. You may be able to take defensive driving courses, for example, in order to get your car insurance premium back down a bit. Your insurance agent will have questions about the accident, so be sure to have as many details as possible before contacting them.
Because car accidents are a matter of public record, they'll go on your motor vehicle report. This means that any insurance company you hope to invest in will be able to find out about the accident. For this reason, switching insurers after an accident isn't a very helpful idea - you're likely to see some high car insurance quotes. Nothing is a bigger factor for insurance companies when they're creating a car insurance quote than the record of a driver, and accidents represent a big red flag.
After two years or so (depending on your state), car insurance companies will stop holding an accident against you. Therefore, if you keep a clean driving record following the accident, you should easily be able to compensate for a few mistakes or an accident. Some car insurance companies also have accident forgiveness programs, which enable policyholders to avoid rate jumps if a single isolated accident appears on their records.
Regardless of their severity, an accident will usually affect your car insurance rate. Do what you can to keep your driving record clean, and you won't have to worry about premium hikes.