Good Driving Records Can Equal Lower Car Insurance Rates

Accidents, tickets, and violations on your driving record affect car insurance by increasing your risk as a driver and your rates. Keep a clean driving record to prevent your rates from increasing.

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Zaneta Wood, Ed.S. has over 15 years of experience in research and technical writing bringing a keen understanding of data analysis and information synthesis to reach a wide variety of audiences. She studied adult education and instructional technology at Appalachian State University as well as technical and professional communication at East Carolina University. Zaneta has prepared technical p...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP®

UPDATED: Jan 17, 2021

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Here's what you need to know...

  • Your driving history directly impacts your car insurance rates
  • It depends on your current insurance coverage as to whether one ticket will cause your rates to increase
  • Insurance companies offer discounts for safety features on cars, so check with your insurance provider to see if you qualify for any additional savings

Your driving history has a big influence on how much you pay for your car insurance premiums.

When you apply for car insurance, the insurance company does a background check on you, which includes looking at your driving record. The higher-risk you are, the higher your rates will be; and the safer you are, the lower your rates will be.

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If you have a driving history that shows you have unsafe driving habits and poor judgment, the insurance company will either refuse to grant you coverage or will charge you much higher rates.

It is important to avoid accidents and obey traffic laws if you want lower car insurance rates.

How do traffic tickets affect your insurance rates?


Traffic ticket violations vary from minor occurrences to major ones.

You can get a ticket for not putting enough money in the parking meter or for parking illegally. You can also get tickets for speeding and for driving while intoxicated (DWI).

These can all affect your car insurance rates in different ways.

Violations that are related to parking and other non-moving circumstances do not affect your premiums very much, if at all.

Violations that are more serious, such as speeding, careless driving, running a red light, and those related to driving under the influence (DUI), can really jack up your premiums.

The number of tickets you receive also affects your premium rates.

The more tickets that you have received, the higher your rates will be. Your rates will also rise more the faster you were going over the speed limit.

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What tickets affect car insurance?

What Tickets Affect Your Car Insurance and Online Comparison Options

If you have never had a traffic ticket violation before, and you get your first moving violation, your rates will not necessarily automatically increase.

Every state and insurance company is different, so it depends on where you live.

Certain states require that car insurance companies raise rates after a first-time offense, after a certain combination of offenses, or after severe violations.

Other states forbid insurance companies to increase rates after the first speeding offense.

Check with your state to see what its rules are regarding traffic violations and raising rates.

How much of an increase will I see and how long does it last?

How much of an increase you will experience varies depending on a variety of factors, including:

  • location
  • policy
  • driving history
  • age
  • insurance carrier

Younger drivers will usually see a greater increase in their premiums as they are seen as being a higher risk. For others, a single speeding infringement can double and even triple the amount you pay for your premium.

Most insurance companies will increase your rates for a period of three years after an at-fault accident or a serious violation conviction.

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If you don’t have any more accidents or offenses, your rates should start decreasing again after three years.

Keep in mind, however that your insurance carrier keeps a history of all of your accidents and traffic violations. This information is used to decide whether they want to continue your coverage or not renew your policy.

How do accidents affect my insurance rates?

how much do car insurance rates increase after one accident

Accidents can significantly affect your car insurance premiums.

Even being in just one accident can dramatically increase your rates. And this increase can happen even if you were not at fault.

Car accidents cost insurance companies a lot of money — from car repairs to car replacement to medical bills.

Because of the high cost to the insurance company, they pass on the cost to you by increasing your car insurance rates after you have been in an accident.

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Besides avoiding traffic violations, how can I lower my car insurance rates?

There are many things that could contribute to a lower premium for auto insurance.

Most car insurance companies offer discounts for lowering your risk for submitting a claim.

These include devices in your vehicle that help prevent theft, safety features such as anti-lock brakes and airbags, and taking a defensive driving class.

Since younger drivers have higher rates, they can lower their premiums with good grades, and by taking safety driving classes. Check with your insurance company to see what discounts it offers.

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