Driving without auto insurance is against the law. All drivers must have their own insurance, and this can be expensive. Avoiding careless driving tickets is one way to keep rates as low as possible.
Driving safely should not be done purely for financial reasons, though; all drivers need to avoid careless driving for the safety of themselves, their passengers, and others on the road. But the effect of a traffic ticket on your auto insurance can be significant, in the following ways:
Premiums Rise Significantly
Getting a ticket involves more costs than just a fine. It can take a while for an insurance company to get updates on your driving record and apply them to your rates, but they will eventually.
According to a report by insurance company analysts, driving more than 30 miles per hour above the posted speed limit raises rates an average of $427 a year. Texting while driving increases premiums an average of $344, and a first offense driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI) can raise insurance rates by as much as $1,131 per year.
Even tickets for seemingly minor offenses can cause insurance costs to go up. For example, the following offenses lead to increased insurance rates:
Distracted driving: $320
Illegal passing: $293
Not stopping at a stop sign: $272
Speeding between 1 and 29 MPH over posted limit: $288 - $317
Using a cell phone while driving: $224
Driving without valid insurance: $143
Not wearing a seatbelt: $47
If you get a ticket in another state, this information will probably still be passed on to your insurance company. Most states have laws that require them to share information about tickets with insurance providers in other states.
Lower Quality Coverage
If you are convicted of careless traffic violations, such as a DUI, or have multiple tickets in a short period of time, your insurance company may switch your coverage to a “non-standard” insurer. These companies provide insurance to drivers who seem like more of a risk, in exchange for limited coverage. The quality of insurance you qualify for is therefore restricted by your driving record.
Cancelation of Policy
Insurance companies have the right to cancel your coverage based on your driving record. If you have multiple traffic tickets or serious convictions, an insurance company may refuse to insure you any longer. Other insurers may also then refuse to cover you. This makes finding and affording insurance difficult, which may prevent you from driving completely.
Avoiding Careless Driving Tickets
Most of the time, you can avoid getting a traffic ticket by not making careless mistakes while behind the wheel. Some of the most common careless driving mistakes are:
Running red lights
Failing to yield
Not using seat belts or child restraints
DUIs, reckless driving, and fleeing from a police officer are also violations that can wreck your insurance coverage.