While we can argue that circumstances beyond our control are sometimes responsible for incidents in our driving histories, traffic violations and other driving infractions constitute a significant portion of how an auto insurance company identifies potential policyholder risks and carry a large weight in relation to the policy premiums drivers will pay.
Put simply, all drivers should understand that the greater the risk, the higher the car insurance premium. And since moving violations indicate questionable judgment and perhaps an unsafe driver, if a driver racks them up, they’ll see their auto policy pricing balloon quickly. It pays to be a safe driver, and if you’re not, expect to pay much more. And as a quick note, don’t expect your insurer to be receptive to an argument centered around “everyone does it, but I just got caught.” That will likely fall on deaf ears.
Traffic violations run the gamut: from something as simple as getting parking tickets because you failed to feed the meter, to being caught driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Simple non-moving violations like traffic tickets shouldn’t have any effect on your policy, although non-payment of such infractions can lead to the issue of a bench warrant that will be executed with your arrest if you’re pulled over by the police. But other violations, such as reckless driving, speeding tickets and the aforementioned DUI are considerably different and much more serious in both legal and insurance realms.
Most insurers won’t simply hike your premium for a moving violation if you’ve never had one before – with DUI being a notable exception – and that has a lot to do with the opportunities and laws of your state. Many states bar insurers from raising a customer’s policy rates because of one moving violation, whereas some states actually require by law that insurers to hike a driver’s premiums depending upon the severity or totality of the infractions they’ve racked up. And many states offer an out for offenders, such as traffic school to make a speeding violation be dismissed, and therefore not reported to the driver’s auto insurance company.
After a significant moving violation, there’s really no way to know how an insurer will raise your rates. Every driver’s rates are a result of their insurance company, age, policy limits, location and driving history. But it’s a good bet that if you’re a younger driver with less experience, you’ll likely have the largest policy increase of any age of driver who was convicted of the same offense.
Any increase in your premium is probably there for a maximum of three to five years if you stay with your current carrier and don’t have further moving violations. If you change insurers, they too may quote you a higher premium due to an offense in that has occurred in the last five years. Because every insurance company is different, shopping around and obtaining quotes from multiple carries will allow you to compare your coverage options.
Of all the offenses, expect the highest increase to come from a DUI conviction. A DUI or a number of serious driving violations might not just cause your insurance to go into the stratosphere, but also cause your auto insurance company to refuse to renew or even cancel your policy. This could also cause other mainstream companies to refuse coverage to you and leave you with no other choice but going with a limited service provider with extremely high premiums.
In the end, most moving violations won’t be a permanent blot on your driving record. It is easier to keep your driving record clean by being a safe driver that obeys all traffic laws. Remember: It pays to be a safe driver, and if you’re not, expect to pay much more.