How USAA’s Accident Forgiveness Actually Works

USAA’s free accident forgiveness will waive the premium increase for your first at-fault accident—but you need to remain accident-free for five years to earn this perk.
Written by Jason Tushinski
Reviewed by Amy Bobinger
USAA offers accident forgiveness for free to policyholders who go five years without an at-fault accident on their driving record. If you want, you can purchase accident forgiveness from USAA, and it will cover one accident per policy period.
  •  With accident forgiveness from USAA, your policy won’t be surcharged after your first at-fault accident
  • All drivers on a USAA policy must maintain a clean driving record for five years before the policy becomes eligible for free accident forgiveness
  • You can save up to 44% on your premium with accident forgiveness

Does GEICO offer accident forgiveness for auto insurance?

Yes, USAA offers accident forgiveness. If a USAA policyholder goes five years without an
at-fault accident
on their driving record, accident forgiveness will be added to their policy for free

What is accident forgiveness?

Accident forgiveness
is a benefit added to your insurance policy that ensures your policy will not be surcharged after an at-fault accident. Normally, your policy would be surcharged after a chargeable accident (i.e. an at-fault accident that causes property damage or bodily injury).
Accident forgiveness will help you avoid a steep increase on your premium after an at-fault accident.
MORE: How different types of car accidents affect your insurance rates

How USAA’s accident forgiveness works

You can get accident forgiveness from USAA in two ways, either by maintaining a clean driving record for five years, or by purchasing it as an add-on to your insurance policy.
The cheapest way to get accident insurance from USAA is the easiest—as a free perk. In order to qualify for free accident forgiveness, all drivers on a policy must go five years without an at-fault accident on their driving record.
The second way to get accident forgiveness on your policy before this five year period is to purchase it for a nominal fee. In this case, accident forgiveness will cover one accident per policy period. That said, this process is a bit more cumbersome, as not all policyholders will qualify for accident forgiveness, and some states don’t allow this add-on to be sold. If you want to purchase accident forgiveness through USAA, call your USAA agent to see if you are eligible to do so.
MORE: Should I report a car accident to my insurance company?

How much do your car insurance rates go up after an accident with USAA?

It is estimated that the average USAA policyholder can save roughly 44% on their premium with accident forgiveness, though many variables will come into play in terms of how much your premium will actually go up.
So, without accident forgiveness, your premium could go up by nearly half, according to experts at WalletHub and U.S. News. If you’re involved in any subsequent accidents within a three year period, your premium increase will be even steeper.
That said, not every accident means your premium rate will increase. If you’re found to be
not at-fault
(for a hit-and-run, as an example), your premium likely will not go up. If you collide with an animal, or if defective tires cause the accident, your rate likely won’t go up. That said, these rules are not guaranteed, and will ultimately depend on your insurer.
Another thing to remember is that any surcharge added to your USAA policy after an accident is not permanent. Depending on the state you live in, the surcharge will remain on your policy for between three to five years.
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What other car insurance companies have accident forgiveness?

Most car insurers offer accident forgiveness, usually as a reward for safe driving or loyalty—or both! State Farm is the only major car insurance provider that does not offer accident forgiveness.
The following major car insurance carriers offer some kind of accident forgiveness:
  • Allstate
    : Can be purchased after three to five years without accidents 
  • Erie
    : A loyalty perk for customers with Erie for at least three years
  • Farmers
    : With a clean record, Farmer’s policy allows for one at-fault accident for every three years
  • Liberty Mutual
    : Drivers with no traffic violations or accidents for five years can purchase this add-on
  • Nationwide:
    An optional coverage add-on to waive surcharge for first accident or moving violation
  • Progressive:
    Small accident forgiveness is free for all customers; large accident forgiveness for is available to Progressive customers with a policy for five years and an accident-free record for three
  • Travelers
    : Optional add-on with forgiveness for one accident and one minor violation every three year period 
  • USAA
    : Optional add-on if all household members remain accident-free free for five years

How much does accident forgiveness cost?

At USAA, accident forgiveness will cost anywhere from $15 to $60 per year if you purchase it as an optional add-on. If you earn accident forgiveness as a perk after five years of accident-free driving and a
clean driving record
for all members on your policy, it will be free.

Is USAA’s accident forgiveness worth it?

If you earn accident forgiveness as a free perk from USAA, it is definitely worth it. With this add-on on your policy, you’ll avoid a potentially steep premium hike after your first at-fault accident. While it depends on your individual profile, the average USAA customer will save around 44% when covered with accident forgiveness.
If you’re thinking about buying accident forgiveness as an add-on to your USAA policy, take a minute before you buy it. What would a 44% increase to your policy look like? Think about whether the added cost of the policy will be worth it or not.

What to do if your USAA rate goes up

If you've been involved in an accident and your USAA rate spikes, you won’t be eligible for free accident forgiveness. This means you’ll have to wait at least five years for it to be added free to your policy, so long as you and the drivers on your policy stay out of accidents for that entire period. That said, there are other ways you’ll be able to
lower your rates
in case you need to offset a premium increase.

Coverage limits

Adjusting your coverage level is one way you can lower your overall insurance costs. Of course, you’ll still need to satisfy your
state’s required insurance limits
, meaning you’ll have to keep
liability insurance
personal injury protection (PIP)
, and
uninsured motorist coverage
. But for sake of argument, you could drop extra coverage such as rental reimbursement and towing services. You could even raise your deductible in order to pay a lower monthly fee.
That said, be sure you carefully consider your financial situation before you increase your deductible or drop your coverage limits. Remember, even if these changes might save you money in the short term, the point of insurance is to help protect you from exorbitant repair costs and medical bills if you’re in a serious accident.

Good driver discounts

Sign up for USAA’s telematics program,
, to track your driving behaviors, such as hard stops, sudden acceleration, and phone usage. If you score well for driving safely, you can get a discount of up to 30% off your policy.
USAA also offers a safe driving discount known as the “Premier Driver Discount,” which will apply if you maintain a clean driving record for at least five years.

Loyalty discounts

Stick with USAA for at least three years and you may be rewarded with a 10% discount on your policy.

The bottom line

Accident forgiveness from USAA is a great perk for policyholders, so long as they qualify. If all drivers on your policy maintain a clean driving record for five years, accident forgiveness insurance is added to your policy for free. You can purchase it before then, but just make sure it makes financial sense to do so.
“Amazing! I’ll admit, I’m young with 2 accidents. This spiked my insurance rates and every quote I found.
, though, helped me find affordable insurance. It truly helped me!” —Marcus F.
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It is unlikely that USAA will drop you after two accidents. While it is possible to be dropped, the more likely scenario is that USAA will issue you a non-renewal notice. This means you’ll likely have between 10 and 30 days to find a new insurer, as opposed to being dropped immediately from USAA’s coverage. The likeliest scenario is, after two accidents, USAA will simply increase your rate, but keep you as a customer.
For some coverage, USAA does have a deductible (a predetermined amount you pay when filing a specific type of claim) such as for
collision insurance
comprehensive insurance
. You won’t have to pay a deductible when filing a claim under your
liability coverage
. Depending on the state you live in, you may need to pay a deductible when filing a personal injury protection (PIP) claim or for uninsured motorist property coverage.
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