A traffic ticket can cost you much more than a fine. Most insurance companies raise their rates whenever a driver gets a ticket. So even if paying the ticket doesn't feel like a big deal, you could be stuck overpaying for monthly premiums for years.
But why is that? This article answers that question. Once you understand how traffic tickets and insurance quotes are connected, you can take proactive steps to start saving money.
Why Do Insurance Rates Go Up After a Traffic Ticket?
Insurance companies issue quotes based on how likely they think you are to get into an accident. Drivers who get into accidents end up costing the insurer a lot of money in repairs. Thus, it makes sense to charge them more every month to continue turning a profit.
Getting a traffic ticket means you did something bad on the road. For example, speeding or running a red light are illegal for a reason: they increase your chances of getting into a crash. If you get caught, you get a ticket.
Insurance companies don't want you being reckless or breaking the law, so as soon as they find out about your ticket, they'll start seeing you as a risky driver. Then, they increase your rates.
How Do Insurers Set Premiums?
Your monthly premium depends on a lot of factors:
How many traffic tickets you've received.
How long it's been since your last traffic violation.
What type of laws you broke.
Your age, gender, and type of car you drive are also factored into premium calculations.
Common Rate Increases By Traffic Violation
The more serious the traffic violation, the more your insurance rates will go up. On average, you can expect your premiums to jump by:
23% when you're caught texting and driving.
61% for a reckless driving ticket.
70% when convicted of drinking under the influence (DUI).
How Do Insurance Companies Find Out About Traffic Tickets?
When you get a traffic ticket, that violation goes on your driver's record. Insurance companies can (and do!) access drivers' records all the time. They base your payments on what they see.
In most cases, offenses stay on your record for around three years. But more serious violations (like DUIs and hit and runs) can stay for much longer, up to a decade.
That means whatever driving mistakes you've made will continue to affect you for years to come. If you're curious, you can get a copy of your record from your state's licensing body (e.g. the DMV).
Lowering Your Insurance Rates After Getting a Traffic Ticket
If you're worried about your rates skyrocketing after getting a ticket, here's what you can do.
Some states allow you to expunge some tickets from your driver's record. If you just got it, and it wasn't for a severe violation, you may be able to enroll in traffic school. It should say on the citation you received from law enforcement if you're eligible for traffic school.
You can take classes online with a state-approved school, like IDriveSafely. Once you complete the course, your traffic ticket won't go on your record. Your insurance company won't hear about it, and your rates will stay the same.
Shop for New Quotes
You may be overpaying for car insurance. Today, it's easy to get a new quote from various insurers online. When reaching out to an agent, ask about special discounts you may qualify for (like being a student or veteran).
Slash Your Car Insurance Bill with Defensive Driving
Insurance companies penalize careless drivers — and they reward responsible drivers. Taking a defensive driving course will show your insurer that you care about road safety. You'll learn crucial safe driving tips that will help you avoid collisions and crashes even when confronted with dangerous situations on the road. Besides picking up life-saving skills, you can also get a sweet insurance discount. It's a win-win!