Do All Tickets Affect my Insurance Rates?
Whatever the reason for being pulled over, getting a ticket is not a fun experience. It’s not cheap, either. A single ticket, depending on the offense, can raise your insurance rates by as much as 93 percent.
Here’s how to tell which tickets will affect your insurance and what you can do about it.
Moving vs. Non-Moving Violations
Traffic tickets fall under two main categories: moving and non-moving violations. A moving violation is an offense you make while driving. This is the type of ticket that can cause your rates to increase. Some of the most common moving violations include:
- Running a red light or stop sign
- Improper lane change
- Not signaling
Moving violations are assigned point values. The value of the point varies from state to state, but each point system serves the same purpose. If you accumulate a certain number of points over the time frame given by your state, your license could be suspended. Insurance companies also use these points to determine your rates. The length of time points stay on your record varies from state to state, ranging from one to six years.
Non-moving violations occur when your car is not moving. Although you still have to pay a fine for non-moving violations, they do not affect your insurance. Most non-moving violations are parking tickets, but can also include illegal modifications to your vehicle or expired license plates. While you may receive a ticket for these violations while driving, they are still considered non-moving violations.
The Effect of Tickets on Your Rates
Not all tickets affect your rates the same way. The increase depends on a number of factors, including:
- Severity of the Offense — More serious offenses, like DUIs or reckless driving, will result in a higher rate increase than less serious offenses, like driving with a taillight out. A DUI/DWI is the worst, sending rates skyrocketing an average of 93 percent
- How Fast You Were Going — Because higher speeds are linked to greater traffic accidents, the amount you exceeded the speed limit impacts your insurance rates. For example, the average rate increase for going 10 miles per hour (mph) over the speed limit is 21 percent, while going 30 mph over the speed limit could increase your rates by 30 percent.
- How Many Tickets You Have on Your Record — Insurance companies consider your driving record one of the biggest factors affecting your premium. The more points you accumulate on your record, the more your insurance will increase.
You got a ticket. Now what?
The first thing you should do is contact your insurance agency. While you don’t have to let them know you got a ticket, you can call to find out the effect it will have on your rates. This can help you decide if you want to take further steps.
Depending on your state, you may have options for keeping a ticket off your record.
- Contest the ticket. Paying a traffic fine is an admission of guilt, so don’t pay the fine if you plan on contesting the ticket in court. The court will either dismiss the ticket or uphold it.
- Enroll in traffic school. Some states will erase the ticket from your record if you enroll in traffic school or a defensive driving course. These classes are usually several hours long and are typically taken online, at the DMV, or at a public safety building. There is also a fee to take a course, in addition to the cost of the ticket.
Not all tickets will affect your insurance premiums, but even one can be costly. The best defense against tickets and subsequent rate hikes is to obey all traffic signals and laws. If you have questions about your auto insurance and how a traffic ticket can affect it, call and speak with an Obrella agent today.