Property and Casualty
14 Traffic Tickets That Can Raise Insurance Rates
By Angela Colley
Getting pulled over is a funny thing. No matter how old you are, you still feel like a teenager behind the wheel when those blue lights come on.
But after you get a ticket and the squad car is pulling away, you have two very adult thoughts: “I wonder how much this is going to cost?” and “Oh no! What is this going to do to my insurance rates?”
Tickets and your insurance rates
A study by Insurance.com analyzed 490,000 insurance quotes to figure out how different violations affect your car insurance rates. Here are their findings for 14 different violations:
•Reckless driving – 22 percent increase.
•DUI (first offense) — 19 percent.
•Driving without a license – 18 percent.
•Careless driving – 16 percent.
•Failure to stop – 15 percent.
•Driving 30 mph or more over the speed limit – 15 percent.
•Improper turn – 14 percent.
•Improper pass – 14 percent.
•Following too closely – 13 percent.
•Driving 15 to 29 mph over the speed limit – 12 percent.
•Driving 1 to 14 mph over the speed limit – 11 percent.
•Failure to yield – 9 percent.
•Driving without insurance – 6 percent.
•Seat belt infractions – 3 percent.
It could be even worse; those are just averages. Your actual rate will depend on a variety of factors, including your age, sex, where you live, your marital status, and how long you’ve been with your carrier. You can calculate your own results on Insurance.com.
How to prevent a rate hike
Traffic violations show up on your state driving record, which is accessed periodically by your insurance company. There are a few things you can do to keep a ticket from appearing on your driving record or minimize the impact on your insurance rate.
Go to court. If you go to court, you may end up getting the ticket reduced to a lesser offense or having the case dismissed entirely. There are several reasons why a judge might dismiss your case. Among them:
•The officer who issued the ticket didn’t appear in court.
•The ticket contains inaccurate information.
•You can prove you did not commit the offense.
Hire a lawyer. A lawyer could help your case. You’ll have to pay, but probably not much. A lawyer we interviewed charges $80 to handle a basic traffic case.
Attend traffic school. Some states allow you to keep a violation off your record by attending traffic school. You can attend traffic school in person (many have night and weekend classes) or online and you’ll have to pass a test, but it shouldn’t be difficult if you were paying attention. The fee to attend the school is usually small.
If you end up paying the fine, here are some steps to take going forward:
• Avoid getting pulled over again. This seems obvious, but more violations will further increase your insurance rates. Keep your car maintained — no broken or malfunctioning lights – wear your seat belt, drive safely and defensively, and renew your registration on time.
• Be patient. Some insurance companies will reduce your rate after a year with no violations. Many moving violations will no longer affect your rate after three years.
• Comparison shop for new insurance. Insurance companies treat violations differently, so another company may offer you a better rate. But don’t lie about past infractions. The company will be reviewing your driving record, even if you’ve moved to another state.