Traffic Tickets Can Influence Your Insurance Rates

by Jim Thompson | Last Updated: June 10, 2021

Drivers that get tickets for moving violations are seen as riskier than drivers with squeaky clean records. Tickets influence insurance, that’s why it’s best to avoid them if you can. If you do get a moving violation, there’s a good chance that your insurance premiums will go up as a result.

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The Impacts of a Ticket Can Vary Dramatically

The cost increase that you experience from a single traffic violation will vary depending on your insurance company. Some will increase your costs for up to three years afterward. Others will hike your rates for a single year after the violation. Thankfully, some companies are gracious enough not to raise your rates at all for a single violation if you’ve been with them long enough.

The Severity Matters

The severity of your violations often determines how much your premiums will go up, or if they will increase at all. For instance, a DUI would shoot your premiums through the roof, often leaving you with payments that are more than double what they were. Getting a ticket for going 12 over the speed limit might moderately boost your premium, and driving with a broken headlight would not affect your rates at all.

Your premiums will be more drastically affected if the speed you are cited for is considerably over the posted limit. This makes sense since exceeding the speed limit is commonly a factor associated with getting into more accidents. Going 5 over the speed limit isn’t going to be viewed nearly as harshly as exceeding it by 20 MPH. So getting pulled over for a serious speeding ticket is going to leave you paying more for insurance in most instances as well.

When the Increases Will Take Effect

Some insurance companies begin charging you more money immediately after a ticket has been processed, but others will wait until you renew your policy for the increases to take effect. It depends on the company and the policies that the carrier has in place.

Adding Points to Your Driving Record

Moving violations come with points that will be added to your driving record in most instances. In most instances, these points will stay on your record for three years, unless it’s something more serious, like a DUI. Such a violation can remain on your driving record for life. Insurers look at the number of points that a driver has, and they adjust the total premium amount based on those points.

Points may cost you with the state, too. Many states assess an annual fine to drivers who exceed a predetermined point total.

Being Out of State Won’t Save You

Some drivers believe that getting ticketed in another state is going to keep their premiums from rising. Most of the time, that just isn’t the case. Most states share information with one another, so your insurer is going to know about that ticket, and your driving record will reflect the violation as well.

Avoiding Tickets to Begin With

If you’ve ever gotten a traffic ticket, you may remember it as a traumatic experience or at least a major inconvenience. Either way, it’s something that you likely don’t want to relive in the future. Even though it’s a negative, and it will cost you some money, it’s also a good learning experience. If you use the ticket as an experience to encourage you to drive more carefully, you might be able to avoid additional tickets in the future. Here are some ideas how.

Re-Read that Handbook

It’s easy to forget some of the rules you have to follow while out on the road, especially if it’s been a while since drivers ed. The best way to make sure that you are up to date on current laws is to read through a current copy of the DMV handbook that’s given out to drivers trying for their permit. The book will help you figure out what you have forgotten and will likely make you into a better driver overall while helping you avoid future tickets. BTW—Every state has its drivers manual available online to make it easy.

Take a Practice Test

Another way to quickly refresh yourself about driving laws is to take a permit practice test. A practice test will help you go over road signs and other information pertinent to driving safely. It will show you what knowledge you lack and what could use a little refreshing. That’s where that handbook will become a handy-book.

A recent study done giving written driving to long-time licensed drivers showed a nearly one quarter failure rate. I took one recently myself. I passed, but with not nearly as high a score that I imagined I would. It is amazing (and a little frightening) how much one can forget after years of driving.

Practice tests (both free and paid versions) can be found all over the internet. Give one a try to see how you would do.

Drive Cautiously

One of the best things that you can do is to simply slow down and drive a bit more cautiously. If you are driving too quickly, or you are in too much of a rush, you are bound to make a few mistakes. Take your time and really focus on what you are doing. Don’t try to be the fastest driver, or the first person through an intersection. Instead, let other people go ahead of you and take a more relaxed approach to driving.

Leave Early

If you frequently speed or break other laws because you are in a hurry, do yourself a favor and leave your home early. Give yourself an extra 15 minutes to get where you need to go and you’ll find it easier to follow all the laws as you get there.

Getting a ticket is certainly no fun, but if you really learn from the experience, it could be the last ticket that you ever get. Just make sure that you learn from the ticket and that you don’t allow it to become a common occurrence or you could have a license suspension in your future.

Make No Mistake. You’ll Probably Want to Pay That Ticket

Getting a traffic ticket is never fun but, just like an infected wound, leave it untreated too long and things will only get worse. Failure to pay off your tickets can result in additional fines or more serious consequences such as license suspension, the addition of points to your driving record, or even arrest. That’s why it’s so important to pay attention to those tickets and to take care of them as quickly as possible after receiving one.

Higher Fines

If you don’t pay off a traffic ticket by the due date, you run the risk of being charged a late payment fee. In many courts, these additional fees can be quite expensive. You could end up paying as much as double the original fine if you miss your deadline. That’s why it makes so much sense to pay it off as soon as possible. If you can’t afford to pay the ticket immediately, it’s important to contact the court to see what your options are.

Suspended License

In many states, avoiding a ticket will result in the suspension of your license. A suspension can last from a few months to over a year in time, and you’ll still have to resolve the ticket in order to get it back again. Normally, when you receive a notice that your license will be suspended, there will be a brief window of time during which you can fix the issue and, unless you don’t mind walking, you’ll want to do so.

Possible Arrest

In some instances, failing to pay overdue tickets can result in a warrant for your arrest. That’s the most extreme case, but it’s something of which you should be aware. As it turns out, the court is pretty serious about getting its money and is willing to go as far as an arrest to make sure they do.

Points on Your Driving Record

Failure to pay a ticket off can result in points being added to your driving record beyond those already earned from the citation itself. Additional points will likely result in additional premium costs on your insurance, annual fines paid to the state, and a chance your license could be suspended.

Now that you know what you can expect if you avoid paying off traffic tickets, you know exactly why you shouldn’t. If you don’t have the money to take care of the ticket by the due date, check with your court to see if they offer a payment plan. Another choice would be to ask the court for permission to take a defensive driving course. That way you’ll pay a reduced fine upfront and usually will have in the neighborhood of 90 days to get the course paid for and completed.