Car Insurance and Bad Driving Records

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Here's what you need to know...

  • A bad driving record is not permanent as long as you’re willing to work to improve it
  • Avoiding accidents, minor infractions, and major infractions will improve your driving record
  • Insurance companies respond differently to bad driving records, but almost all will make you pay extra for coverage

Let’s face it, all of us have had minor accidents or traffic violations at some time in our driving careers. But for someone with an especially bad driving record, car insurance can be very costly.

That’s why it’s important to maintain a good driving record by always obeying the law, driving safely at all times, avoiding distractions when behind the wheel, and being aware of weather conditions and the surrounding environment.

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If you do have a bad driving record that’s causing your insurance rates to be higher than normal, all is not lost.

If you make the effort to drive safely and legally from this point forward, you can improve and obtain a clean record in just a few years.

Once your record is clean, your insurance rates will drop accordingly. But it requires you to make the decision and to stick with it.

Three factors contribute to a bad driving record.

1. Avoid Accidents

Car accident on the street.

First, avoid causing or being in an auto accident. Remember that car insurance is based on the risk your carrier must take in order to provide you with coverage.

Your insurance company is banking on the fact that you won’t have a significant claim throughout the life of your policy, thus allowing them to make the most profit by investing your premiums.

When you have accidents, you increase their risk. The best thing to do is to always drive safely according to the training you received and the current road and weather conditions. For example, when the weather is poor, slow down and give yourself extra room to stop.

When driving in a rural area, watch out for animals and other hazards in the road. If you do have a minor accident, it may be worthwhile to pay for the damage yourself to avoid a significant insurance cost spike.

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2. Avoid Minor Traffic Infractions

Minor traffic infractions also factor into a bad driving record. Examples of minor infractions would include the following:

  • Failing to signal a lane change
  • Driving with one or both headlights out
  • Running a red light
  • Failing to yield the right of way

In most states, minor traffic infractions are categorized as either simple violations or moving violations. Points are applied to your license depending on the infraction’s category.

The idea is to avoid these minor infractions as much as possible.

While all of these minor infractions may add only one or two points each, several add up to a significant amount of points over a period of time. And as the points on your license go up, so does your insurance rate.

3. Avoid Major Driving Infractions

Drunk man is drinking beer in his car

Being found guilty of major traffic infractions is one of the quickest ways to send your car insurance rates through the roof.

Examples of these types of infractions include:

Some of these violations are even considered felonies and carry heavy fines or prison time. Obviously, if you’re not responsible enough to avoid these types of infractions, your insurance company can safely assume you represent an incredibly high risk.

One of the more unfortunate aspects of major infractions lies in the fact that they stay on your record for a much longer period of time.

While a minor infraction may be dropped within one to three years, major infractions tend to stay on your record for five to seven years.

In some jurisdictions, a DUI or DWI could hang around for up to ten years. As long as these infractions are part of your driving record, you will be forced into a high-risk pool.

People in these high-risk categories pay the highest insurance rates in the country. The only other demographic that comes close is young males between the ages of 16 and 25.

If you are convicted of a second or third DWI, you will pay more for your car insurance than your 17-year-old son.

Major infractions increase risk, and increased risk means higher insurance premiums. It’s just that simple.

Other Factors that Hurt Your Driving Record

There are just a few other things you need to be concerned about in terms of a bad driving record. These include the following:

  • Driving on a suspended or lapsed registration
  • Driving without coverage
  • Driving with a suspended or lapsed driver’s license

Insurance companies treat these things differently, as do the various states. But rest assured that if any of these things are on your record, they will usually increase how much you pay.

Even if you have a bad driving record you can still find competitive car insurance quotes online by entering your ZIP code now.

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