4 Must-Know Facts about Traffic Warnings Effects on Auto Insurance

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Here's what you need to know...
  • Warnings should not cause an increase in your insurance premiums
  • There may be some instances where a warning could impact your insurance rates
  • You do not have to go to court for traffic warnings

Warnings should not affect your car insurance rates at all.

Although it is never a good thing to get a warning by a police officer for a moving violation, it’s still better to get a bit of a tongue lashing by the man in blue, than to have him write out a ticket or citation to you due to your driving negligence.

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Understand that unless there is documentation in your state’s DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) of your offense, the car insurance company will have no record of the warning and will not know about it.

In other words, a true warning by a law enforcement agent will not cause your insurance premiums to go up.

Verbal Warning

Police officer

If you are pulled over you may receive one of two warnings. You may get a verbal warning or a written one. If you have ever gotten a verbal warning, this is the best one to get.

In general, if it is verbally spoken by the officer, there is no record of the incident even happening so it is like it didn’t happen.

A written warning may be handled differently.

Written Warning

If the officer did give you a written warning, and not a citation or ticket, then you still may wish to find out if this warning gets documented to the DMV or in some place (either online, in a database, or a hard copy in a file cabinet) where your insurance carrier could find it.

Even if your insurance carrier can find this written warning through law enforcement records, it still should not count against you in regards to your premiums.

Although in some states law enforcement does keep documentation on written warnings for all minor offenses, unless you have a ticket or citation, a warning of any sort, by itself, should not raise your rates.

If you live in Conway, Arkansas, there’s a third type of warning you could receive, a “teddy bear warning.” This type of warning definitely won’t increase your car insurance rates.

Any type of warning will hopefully accomplish its purpose of helping you remember to obey traffic laws, while not hurting your record or pocketbook!

4 Must-Know Facts about Warnings

Generally speaking, a warning will not be discovered by your insurance company, and you we not be penalized for it. However, it’s important that you understand the following four facts so you’re prepared for the off-chance a warning could affect your policy.

The facts will also help discover the truth about the aftermath of a warning.

#1 – Sometimes Your Insurance Company Has Access to Your Warning

Businesswoman in cubicle using laptop

In general, a car insurance company does not have access to any written warnings that you have received. The only time that they may see your warnings is if they were sent to the motor vehicle department by the police department for some reason.

There are some factors that could impact whether or not your insurance company factors warnings into your premiums:

  • Minor infractions – If the warnings were for something minor, like a headlight being out, they probably won’t affect your rates.
  • Major infractions – If they are for something like speeding, however, your insurance company may see it as a habit and label you as a higher risk driver. This could possibly raise your rates.
  • New insurer? – If you are starting with a new or different insurance company, they will be looking more closely at your record than your previous insurance company had.

To see if your written warnings are on record with the department of motor vehicles, check with your state department. For example, if you live in New York, you would go to the New York State’s DMV.

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#2 – Your Rates Could Increase because of a Combination of Tickets and Warning

You may be wondering something like, “Why did my rates go up after only two speeding tickets in five years?”

All insurance carriers are different, but generally, speeding tickets issued this far apart usually don’t cause your rates to rise.

This is where these written warnings can cause you a bit of a headache and make you dig a bit deeper into your jeans pockets to pay your insurance premiums.

Let’s say that although you only have two speeding citations over five years, you have four written warnings as well.

Some insurance carriers may deem this poor driving history as you are being a bit too careless and reckless on the road, and they may decide to raise your premiums.

Keep in mind:

  • It’s quite imperative that you find out the rules of your state and local law enforcement agencies on how they deal with written warnings.
  • It’s important to find out from your insurance carrier the manner in which they handle written warnings for vehicle violations, and how they can affect your overall insurance premiums in the future.

#3 – A Warning Will NOT Mandate a Court Appearance

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It’s possible you are wondering the following: “I was given a warning and told to appear in court, is this right?”

You are mistaken. If you were truly given a warning you would not need to appear in court. Only traffic violations where you were given a ticket or citation require payment of a fine or an appearance before a judge in a court of law.

So in this instance, you were not given a warning, but an actual ticket.

The officer may have given you a lesser ticket and that is what you thought was a warning.

For example, you may be caught traveling enough over the speed limit that your infraction transitioned from a moving violation to a criminal offense (this varies from state to state, but let’s say 90 mph).

The police officer then records your speed as 80 in a 65 mph zone, even though you were actually going 90 mph.

He is giving you a break, and “warning” you that next time you could be charged with a criminal offense if you drive over 90 mph in a 65 mph zone.

#4 – You Can Find out if Warning Are Given to Your State’s DMV

You will need to contact your local DMV and find out what the protocol is for warnings given by police officers and whether they are on record or stored in some electronic or hard copy file.

Also, you may wish to contact your insurance agent and find out what their protocol is in regards to raising premiums if you are given a warning – written or otherwise – following a moving violation by a law enforcement official.

To get a better understanding of how car insurance coverage deals with traffic violation warnings (written or otherwise), compare car insurance rates from the top companies in your area just by typing in your ZIP code!

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