Gianetta Palmer is a writer for CarInsurance101.com, copywriter, and essayist. Her work has appeared in EverydayHealth.com, Healthline, and The Dyrt Magazine. She is the author of Scrunchie-Fried and writes a lot about car insurance in her spare time.

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Melanie Musson is the fourth generation in her family to work in the insurance industry. She grew up with insurance talk as part of her everyday conversation and has studied to gain an in-depth knowledge of state-specific car insurance laws and dynamics as well as a broad understanding of how insurance fits into every person’s life, from budgets to coverage levels. She also specializes in automa...

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Reviewed by Melanie Musson
Published Insurance Expert

UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020

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Auto insurance is used to cover damage that you cause to another person’s property. Depending on the coverage you buy, it may also pay for damage to the insured vehicle. It’s important to maintain auto insurance coverage on your vehicle at all times as you would be held personally liable for any damage you could not pay with your insurance policy. This means that if you cause an auto accident and you do not carry insurance or don’t have enough coverage, you will need to pay it out of pocket or be sent to collections.

Can I buy car insurance to cover pre-existing damage?

In order to pay for an auto accident, you would need active insurance coverage at the time of the collision. If you allow your policy to lapse, any accidents occurring during the lapsed period would not be covered. This means that if you were to get into an accident, you could not buy an auto policy to cover the damage retroactively; the policy must be in effect prior to the date of the accident in order to cover the accident.

Attempting to file a claim for preexisting damage with a new policy is insurance fraud, and will be investigated thoroughly by your insurance company. Most insurers higher damage adjusters whose job it is to review damage and determine when and how it occurred. If your damage is found to be older than the date of the reported accident, that damage will be denied; depending on the situation, the denial may also lead your insurance being reviewed for cancellation.

How do I get car insurance after an accident?

Once you file an auto insurance claim, your rates may be affected. If you are at fault for the accident, your rates could increase; your insurance policy may even be canceled if the accident was severe or one of multiple claims filed on your policy. Most accidents will not lead to such a severe consequence, but it is always a possibility that you should be prepared for following an auto accident.

Obtaining a second auto insurance policy may be more difficult if you have a history of accidents, but it’s not impossible by any means. Depending on your risk factors, you may be able to obtain a policy from a regular insurance provider. Your rates may be somewhat higher than those you had paid before, but after maintaining a safe driving record your premiums will begin to go down; in the meanwhile, you can keep your rates low by raising your insurance deductible.

If you are unable to obtain coverage through a regular provider, you might need to purchase your insurance from a high-risk carrier. High-risk insurance is usually somewhat pricier than regular coverage and may be limited in the coverage that you can buy. Nevertheless, it allows individuals with a bad driving record a chance to purchase auto insurance when other companies may not offer that privilege.

Assigned Risk Insurance

Some individuals are unable to obtain a policy from a regular high-risk insurer; these people must obtain coverage from an assigned risk carrier. This is a special type of policy reserved for drivers who cannot get insurance through any other means. Your policy will be underwritten by a pool of funds from multiple insurance companies; while you may deal with an agent or claims department of one company, the actual money funding your insurance comes from several companies.

Assigned risk insurance usually will only allow you to carry liability coverage unless you have a vehicle with lien holder requirements that make full coverage a necessity. The coverage is usually expensive and temporary; after a few years of driving safely, you will be able to qualify for another insurance policy.

Bear in mind that any accident, traffic infraction, DUI or other driving risk factor can take up to seven years to drop off your driving record. This means that it could be several years before you are able to purchase regular low-cost insurance once more.

Nevertheless, buying auto insurance after an accident is not impossible. Even drivers with DUI convictions or other serious infractions are able to purchase auto insurance. You can check with an agent or search for a quote online to begin shopping for an auto insurance policy that will fit your needs.