Do traffic violations affect your insurance rates?
Sadly, the answer is yes!
When you’re in a car accident, the cost of your car insurance probably isn’t the first thing you think about. In the end, though, the increase in your car insurance premiums can be one of the longest-lasting results of any traffic violation. Car insurance companies usually raise rates for about three years after a violation.
You probably already know serious accidents affect your car insurance rates. What many drivers don’t realize, however, is that all kinds of moving violations and traffic infractions can lead to higher rates. Just about the only thing that doesn’t usually raise your car insurance rates is a parking ticket.
Why Do Traffic Violations Affect Your Insurance Rates?
Every state has its own definition of the different traffic violations. In some places, minor violations are considered civil infractions. These are not handled under the same criminal laws as misdemeanors (minor crimes) or felonies (serious crimes). In other places, traffic violations are misdemeanors.
No matter what the charge or how it is handled, however, car insurance companies take it into account!
The business model of an insurance company is to minimize risk. Think about it: If there were no car accidents, every dollar of insurance premium paid would be pure revenue. Of course, accidents do happen. Since insurers can’t prevent them, they penalize drivers they consider high-risk with more expensive rates.
This is why, for example, teenage drivers pay some of the highest insurance rates in the country. An individual teen may be very responsible and conscientious, but the mathematical formulas insurance companies use to determine risk tell them teen drivers are more likely than others to get into accidents.
In the majority of states, car insurance companies use a variety of factors in setting rates.
These may include:
The driver’s age and gender – in many cases, women are seen as “less risky” drivers
The make, model, and age of the driver’s vehicle, as well as any safety features on it
Where the driver lives, accident and crime rates in that area, and its severe weather
The driver’s credit score (a lower score is believed to indicate a higher driving risk)
In some states, legislators have raised the alarm about this behavior. They argue that judging a person’s level of risk based on their neighborhood is a form of discrimination. When insurers stick to a policyholder’s driving history, they can avoid these accusations while still making more money on premiums.
How Do Traffic Violations Affect Your Insurance Rates?
The amount your premium goes up after a traffic violation will vary, but an increase is almost guaranteed.
In most states, a hit and run violation is the most expensive to have on your insurance record, leading to an increase of more than 80%, or $1,209 dollars. That’s followed in severity by refusal to take a field sobriety test, Driving Under the Influence (DUI), street racing, and reckless driving, the latter raising rates over 70%.
However, even minor oversights that could happen to the most careful drivers can be costly.
According to the best recent estimates, here’s how much more you can expect to pay on average:
1. Accidents: 42% (At Fault), 6.7% (Not At Fault)
Yes, even if another person was found responsible for an accident, insurers generally still have the power to raise your rates. And they will, even in states where fault is not considered in most insurance payouts. Someone found responsible for an accident can expect to add $600 to annual premiums. Not at fault? About $100.
2. Refusal of Breathalyzer Test: 74.1% | Driving Under the Influence (DUI): 73.9%
In several states, you are permitted to refuse a breathalyzer test, which measures Blood Alcohol Content in suspected drunk driving incidents. In a case of presumed guilt, however, car insurance companies tend to raise rates for refusal almost as much as they do for a DUI conviction in court.
Remember, Driving Under the Influence does not refer only to alcoholic drinks. DUI convictions have often gone up in states where adult use of cannabis products is now legal. And even if you are having plain old beer or wine, a single drink can take many people over the legal limit.
3. Distracted Driving: 19.7%
Spurred by the prevalence of smartphones in just about every aspect of daily life, distracted driving citations have skyrocketed. Some states allow hands-free calls, while others only permit hands-free GPS apps, so be sure you know the rules. Distracted driving is a factor in 9% of fatal crashes, so insurers take it seriously.
4. Driving Without Insurance: About 10% | Failure to Show Proof of Insurance: 8.7%
Driving without insurance is more serious than it looks. For some people, the rate increase is only about 10% – but a court can order you to hold a pricey SR-22 car insurance endorsement. This attests to the fact that you have adequate liability coverage, and it can be twice as expensive as the average insurance policy.
Some states allow a brief grace period for driving without insurance. No matter what, though, you have only a very short time from the time your insurance lapses before you could get into serious trouble. States have been working with insurers to enact automatic notification systems so they know instantly when you lose your policy.
5. Driving With A Suspended Registration: 10.9%
Penalties vary widely for driving with a suspended registration, but hefty fines are common. Officers may be empowered to provide you with a temporary registration tag or even escort you to the local DMV to resolve the problem. On the other hand, your vehicle might be impounded until you pay a reinstatement fee.
This is one case where it’s very important to know what the standards are in your state!
6. Failure To Wear A Seat Belt: 4%
“Click it or ticket” has become a guiding principle of traffic enforcement. While the Highway Patrol is expected to stop drivers who aren’t strapped in, insurers aren’t as concerned. Just about everyone has forgotten their seat belt at one time or another. In this scenario, the ticket is more costly than the insurance hit.
7. Failure To Honk While Passing: Usually 0%
Among traffic violations honk passing is not very well known. In certain areas, all drivers are expected to honk their horn as they prepare to pass. Honking acts as an “audible signal” that creates a legal obligation for the other driver to help you pass safely. This can be on the books at the state or municipal level.
As one of the most obscure traffic violations, honk passing is not very well known. Most drivers would be surprised to find out they have been expected to do it. It is also a law in parts of Canada, but is rarely enforced. This is one traffic violation that is not usually a problem.
Now that you see how traffic violations affect your insurance rates, you can be proactive. Start saving money on car insurance by finding the best deal for you! Cheap Insurance makes it easy to compare insurance quotes from trusted companies in your area. Start now or contact us for more information.