Car accidents in Texas are shockingly common, and the numbers are rising. In 2021, the fatality rate on Texas’s roads was 1.56 deaths per hundred million vehicle miles traveled, which is a 4.17% year-on-year increase.
In other words, your chances of being involved in an accident are higher than you think. Texas has one of the highest fatality rates in the country, with no deathless days for the last 22 years.
Accidents on your record can have catastrophic impacts on your auto insurance rates, so how long does an accident stay on your driving record? In this guide, we answer all your questions about the impact of car accident records in Texas.
How Long Does the Accident Stay on Your Record?
Every state sets rules regarding how long an accident will stay on your record. Your accident will remain on your record in Texas for three to five years. Insurers can use this information to set your auto insurance rates during this time.
The impact of an accident on your insurance rates is significant, with most drivers experiencing significant increases if they were found at fault for an accident.
With 5.2 million collisions nationwide yearly, insurers have become adept at delving into driver records to set monthly premiums.
Luckily, few exceptions exist for how long an accident stays on your record in Texas. The big exception is if you are convicted of driving under the influence. Unless your record is sealed or expunged, your DUI will remain on your record forever. Trying to remove an accident from a record if it falls into this category is extremely difficult.
However, other states have several exceptions.
For example, California mandates that DUI convictions remain on your record for ten years. The same principle applies to at-fault drivers operating a commercial vehicle at the time
Meanwhile, a crash goes on your record in Florida if you were issued a traffic citation. If you were convicted of a DUI, this would remain on your record for 75 years, meaning that in the Sunshine State, a DUI conviction will follow you for the rest of your life.
Are Car Accident Reports Public Record in Texas?
Now that you know how long accidents stay on your record in Texas, can anyone access the police report of a road traffic accident?
Accident reports in Texas are not available for just anyone to access. Only certain groups may request a copy of a particular car accident report.
Before discussing who can access a car accident report, how does the Lone Star State record car accidents?
Texas maintains permanent records for all licensed drivers. It includes everything, such as accidents, speeding tickets, citations, violations, and more. Texas law states that an accident report must be created and filed if a significant injury, death, or more than $1,000 of property damage resulted from an accident.
So, who can access crash reports?
- Anyone involved in an accident (drivers, passengers, and bystanders)
- Authorized representatives of anyone involved in the accident.
- Employers, parents, and legal guardians of an involved driver.
- Owner of the vehicle or property damaged by the collision.
- Anyone with financial responsibility for a vehicle involved in an accident, such as the holder of a liability policy.
- Insurance companies that have insured a vehicle involved in the accident.
- Insurance companies that cover any person involved in the accident.
- A person employed to provide underwriting information to an insurer.
- Radio and television stations licensed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
- Newspaper authorized to publish legal notices.
- Anyone looking to sue due to a fatality caused by the accident.
You can obtain accident records in Texas relevant to you through MyAccident.org. Utilize our free Texas accident reports service by entering the city or ZIP where the accident occurred to launch the process.
How Will It Affect My Insurance Premiums?
People often ask, “How long does an accident stay on your insurance?” because they are concerned about experiencing higher insurance premiums.
A Texas auto insurance rate increase is expected after an accident, but many drivers are pleasantly surprised that their premiums barely move. A range of factors goes into determining whether your premiums will rise, including:
- Your Insurer – Different insurers will approach your accident differently when judging whether to raise your rates.
- Your Accident History – Drivers with a history of road traffic accidents will be judged as riskier propositions, leading to higher premiums.
- Your Age – Typically, younger drivers pay higher insurance premiums. This occurs because of various reasons, including a perceived lack of experience.
- Your Fault – Were you at fault? Texas is an at-fault state, so your rates may not rise if the other driver receives 100% of the blame.
- Your Points – In Texas, you must pay a surcharge if you have six or more points on your driving record.
The Texas DMV utilizes a points-based system known as the Driver Responsibility Program. This program tracks every licensed driver in Texas and draws information from accidents inside and outside Texas.
The program states that at-fault drivers will receive three points on their record as standard. Insurers will examine your standing within this program to determine your rates.
Be aware that even if you do experience a rate increase, you don’t need to worry about how to remove an accident from your record. Insurers look back at your driving record's last three to five years when settling on a rate.
Your accident record will lead to you paying less for a while.
Accident Forgiveness in Texas
One of the best investments you can make is to take out an accident forgiveness add-on for your auto insurance policy.
The accident forgiveness policy add-on will cost you extra upfront. Still, this safety net enables you to avoid any insurance rate increase if you’re involved in an accident, even if it was your fault.
You can only use the accident forgiveness mechanism one time per policy, with it refreshing every three years.
Find an insurer that offers this policy add-on to prevent a rate increase.
What Can I Do to Lower My Insurance Rates After an Accident?
Experiencing a rate increase is frustrating, especially if an accident is relatively minor. Insurance carriers provide various options to offset your perceived risk as a driver and lower your monthly premiums.
So, how long do accidents stay on your record in Texas and still impact your insurance rates? Three to five years is a rule of thumb, but you can continue following the tips below to lower your premiums even further.
Here are five clever ways to keep your insurance rates as low as possible
1. Take a Defensive Driving Course
Learning proper defensive driving techniques can prevent accidents and deaths on the road. Although these courses are often associated with court orders, you can voluntarily take these courses to improve your skills.
Defensive driving skills are proven to reduce your likelihood of being the guilty party in an accident. Insurers recognize this, which is why they provide discounts on insurance rates to drivers who take them.
Enrolling in a defensive driving course proves you are committed to becoming a safer driver. Most courses cost as little as $25 and take just a few hours.
2. Choose a Higher Deductible
Your deductible is the amount you pay before your insurer covers the rest. Raising your deductible is a popular option for reducing your premiums.
Be wary about accepting higher deductibles because if you are in an accident, you must be prepared to pay more out-of-pocket.
So, how do you choose the right deductible for you?
- Consider the value of your vehicle. Taking out a $5,000 deductible makes no sense if your car is worth a fraction of that.
- How much do you have in your savings account to cover the deductible?
- What is the cost difference for each deductible? Ask yourself whether it’s even worth raising your deductible further.
- Think about your risk tolerance. Raising your deductible comes with considerable risks.
Everyone’s preferred deductible differs based on their financial circumstances, their insurer, and how confident they are as a driver.
3. Bundle Insurance Policies
Is your current insurance carrier a specialist in auto insurance, or do they offer a range of policies?
If the latter, your insurance carrier may offer discounts if you decide to bundle your policies with them. Combining your home, auto, and life insurance policies with the same carrier can make you eligible for package discounts.
Research before bundling your policies because the savings may not be worth it. Shop around for the best deals.
4. See if You Can Get Discounts
Some discounts exist that many drivers need to be made aware of. For example, defensive driving courses can save you up to 15% on your insurance premiums. Likewise, a range of safe driving discounts exist.
Safe driving discounts can save you up to 10% on your insurance premiums and are assessed via the Snapshot and Drivewise programs.
Consider discounts for low mileage and usage. Whenever you take out a new policy, your insurer will ask you for your average annual mileage. Someone who drives less than 7,500 miles can see huge discounts of up to 20%.
You can also install certain upgrades on your vehicle, including:
- Anti-theft locks
- Anti-locking brakes
- Daytime running lights
- Passive restraint
- Driver monitoring technology
Ask about possible discounts, and don’t be afraid to approach other insurers to determine whether you could be eligible for more discounts elsewhere.
5. Look for Other Insurance Options
After an accident, you might feel like you have no options. Instead, consider looking at other insurance options.
Shopping around by getting a free online quote can win discounts, but you can also change your existing policy.
For example, have you considered adjusting your existing coverage levels or removing some add-ons?
Examine your current policy and see what your options are
What if the Accident Wasn’t My Fault?
Asking questions like, “How long do accidents stay on your record in Texas?” and “How to remove an accident from a driving record in Texas?” are less important because Texas is an at-fault state.
States like Texas using at-fault rules will apportion blame for accidents. The driver considered at fault will have their insurance pay for the injuries and damages caused by the crash, whereas the victim pays nothing
Fault is always determined via due legal process, which may or may not involve a trip to the local courthouse.
As an at-fault state, engaging an attorney to fight your corner for you is always wise. Notify your insurer after a crash, but don’t talk to anyone other than your attorney. Let an experienced legal professional speak on your behalf.
Will your insurance premiums rise if the other driver is entirely at fault? It’s unlikely, but it can happen if you have a long accident record.
Can I Remove an Accident from My Driving Record in Texas?
The Lone Star State makes removing your accident from your record nearly impossible. Records cannot be cleaned or scrubbed like in other states, meaning that if you have a DUI record, you’ll have to live with that for the rest of your life.
The only exception that allows for accident removal from your driving record in Texas is if you can argue that there are inaccuracies on your driving record.
The process is long and arduous, and your legal representative must make a good argument to prove that inaccuracies exist. In this case, your record can be cleaned.
Once again, it must be emphasized that 99% of drivers will not qualify to have an accident removed from their driving record.
Recommendations and Next Steps
Knowing how long accidents stay on your record in Texas, you can take concrete steps to reduce the risk of becoming involved in an accident yourself. Taking defensive driving courses, implementing safety upgrades, and becoming more experienced will help you to avoid becoming another statistic.
Your insurance premiums will almost certainly increase if you were at fault, but with accidents only staying on your record for three to five years, it’s not a long-term punishment.
If you have been involved in an accident, it’s vital that you take the appropriate steps to protect yourself. Obtain a free copy of your Texas accident report and enlist an attorney to claim the compensation you deserve.
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