Costly accidents

The Department of Motor Vehicles has unveiled a new resource designed to help drivers estimate how their insurance rates might change after one or two at-fault accident claims.

A Digital Journal report detailed the rollout of the Car Accident Insurance Calculator, which is being touted as an educational tool that quantifies the impact of getting into a crash. Through the use of the calculator, drivers are provided a cost analysis of their checkered driving history - real or hypothetical - with a particular focus on the changes that might be triggered in terms of auto insurance premiums.

The returns generated by the calculator are based on insurance data through 2013 and 2014. According to that recent history, drivers who have been at fault in just one accident can expect that their premiums will rise by $1,468 over the following five years. That translates to nearly $25 per month, in addition to the regular rates that are already being paid.

Who feels the brunt?
Depending where you live, the financial impact of an accident can vary. In Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York and Washington, D.C., the cost of insuring your driving privileges is already highest, with New Jersey's average annual premium of $1,183 representing the costliest in the country. But it's in Massachusetts that residents actually experience the most significant spikes after claims. Bay State policyholders are hit with rate bumps of 67 percent on average after the first at-fault claim. A second accident can be even costlier - if it doesn't result in the loss of driving privileges altogether.

According to the DMV's calculator, after a second at-fault claim, drivers are hit with insurance rate increases averaging 86 percent. Therefore, those who have twice played a role in causing an accident will pay an extra $6,035, on average, over the next five years to retain their right to operate a vehicle. And since that figure represents the national norm, it's entirely possible that cost is even greater in Massachusetts or New Jersey, depending on the nature of the incidents and background of the driver, among other factors.

It's no secret that higher-risk drivers pay more to be insured. But with tools such as the DMV calculator, it's now possible for everyone to see exactly how dangerous reckless driving can be, not only to themselves, their vehicle and others on the road, but to their wallet as well.

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