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: Oct 2, 2020

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Here’s the scenario — you’re in the market for a new auto insurer, and you’re seeking out quotes from different providers. As you go through the process, you can’t help but wonder,
“Just what kind of information are insurers using to determine my rates?”
We’re glad you asked.

As much as we’d like to see providers assess rates based solely on our need to have car insurance, that just isn’t how it works. When it comes to how much you’re charged, insurers are taking a close look at your history — considering everything from past accidents to speeding tickets to claims.

Fortunately, you don’t have to remain in the dark about how your rates are determined. It’s why we’re taking an in-depth look at the factors that matter the most — to you and your provider.

You can also begin shopping rates by taking advantage of our free car insurance comparison tool.

Table of Contents

How Your Driving History Affects Your Car Insurance Rates

When it’s all said and done, providers want to know what type of driver you are. After all, what kind of driver you are will ultimately affect their bottom line.

If you have a good record, insurers won’t view you as someone who is likely to file a claim. However, if you have a less-than-stellar recrord, insurers will see you as a liability, and will charge you higher rates.

Companies will look to a variety of resources in their assessment of your driving. But perhaps the most important tool in their arsenal is our driving record.

What’s On Your Driving Record?

Whether it’s a speeding ticket or a fender bender, you can be assured that state officials are keeping track. In the car insurance world, your driving record is known as an MVR, or a Motor Vehicle Report. MVR data is considered confidential, so only certain people – including you and your insurer – are allowed to access and review it.

When insurers pull your MVR, they’ll get a summary of your most recent driving activity. Here’s a look at what is included in your MVR:

  • Tickets, including speeding and other traffic infractions
  • Car accidents, including at-fault and not-at-fault
  • Violations, which can include moving violations
  • Your point history, as it is listed with the state
  • Convictions, such as a DUI
  • License status, such as suspensions or revocations.

Your MVR can also contain information about specific restrictions, like not being allowed to drive at night. It can also include fees that you owe, as well as any defensive driving courses you have taken. With your MVR in hand, insurers will then move forward in determining what kind of a customer you will be. But here’s what drivers need to remember:

You have a right to access your driving report. Obtaining a copy begins with contacting your state Department of Motor Vehicles, or DMV.

You’ll typically be charged a small fee (most we’ve seen are less than $10), and most states will give you the option of requesting your record online, in person, or by mail.

There’s more — you can also challenge the contents of your driving record. This is especially important if the information on your MVR is incorrect. Most states have a procedure in place allowing drivers to dispute incorrect information (here’s an example from the state of California). Contact your state DMV or search their site to begin the process.

How Far Back Do Auto Insurers Look at Your Record?

The time frame in which providers are legally permitted to look back at your record is often referred to as the “look-back” period.

In most states, the look-back period for your motor vehicle report is three to five years.

However, it’s important to note that look-back periods will vary, depending on where you live. According to the Law Dictionary, some states are more stringent and will permit a look-back period of as much as 10 years. Others are more lenient, and limit it to three years.

When you also consider the fact that more serious violations like a DUI can remain on your record for more than a decade, this can also extend the look-back period.

How Often Do Car Insurance Companies Check Your Record?

You can expect a car insurance company to check your record at the following times:

  • When you initially apply for coverage. Reviewing your record as a new applicant will provide insurers with a baseline from which to assess you as a driver and set rates.
  • When it’s time for you to renew. In most cases, your policy will renew every six months or every year. Right before it renews, insurers will use that time to review your record and reassess your rates. If you have changes to your record, such as a ticket or accident, this can lead to an increased rate at renewal. If the violations are really bad, your insurer could decide to drop you.
  • When you make changes to your policy. Those changes can include changing your address, changing your coverages, adding a new vehicle, or adding a new driver. As long as you are making a change to your policy, this will give your insurer the “green light” to start fresh and revisit your driving record.

– What is a CLUE Report?

Whether we like it or not, past claims can have a significant impact on car insurance rates. With resources like your CLUE report, providers are able to get a clearer picture of your personal claims history.

CLUE is an acronym that stands for Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange, and it’s owned and operated by LexisNexis. It’s similar to a credit report, in that it provides insurers with a snapshot of past behaviors. But rather than focusing on your spending and payments history, CLUE focuses specifically on claims activity.

There are two types of CLUE reports — one for personal property and one for auto. In terms of a CLUE Auto Report, we know that:

  • It provides a seven-year history of all car insurance losses associated with a particular person.
  • For each loss, the CLUE report will include the date, loss type, the amount paid, policy number, claim number, and insurance company name.
  • The report also includes an inquiry history, as well as information on how to dispute claims.

You can be sure that in addition to your MVR, insurers will also review your CLUE. But drivers, be aware – insurers aren’t the only ones who have access to your CLUE report. You can also request a copy.

Under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT Act), anyone can request and get one free copy of their CLUE report every 12 months. You can order by phone by calling 1-866-312-8076, or by heading to the LexisNexis site to begin.

You also have a right to dispute the contents of your CLUE report. To do so, you can contact LexisNexis Risk Solutions (LNRS) by calling 888-497-0011 or mail them at
LexisNexis Consumer Center
P.O. Box 105108
Atlanta, GA, 30348.
Once your dispute has been received, LNRS will have 30 days to investigate. Once complete, LNRS will provide you with the results by mail no later than five business days after its completion.

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How Accidents and Violations Affect Your Car Insurance Rates

We get it — car accidents, speeding tickets, and traffic violations already carry their own set of financial and legal challenges.

But what can make matters worse is the sticker shock some drivers will experience when they get their car insurance bill. That’s because for many drivers, accidents and other violations will have an adverse effect on their rates.

What’s more, is that these rate hikes can impact you for years. Keep reading as we reveal by how much, and for how long.

What are moving and non-moving violations?

When it comes to the traffic violations that drivers can get cited for, you’ll often hear two terms — “moving violations” and “non-moving violations.”

Moving ViolationsNon-Moving Violations
A traffic offense involving a vehicle in motion
Examples include: speeding, running a stop sign,
running a red light, and driving under the influence
A traffic offense involving a stationary vehicle
Examples include: parking violations, faulty or broken
equipment, and expired tags
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A moving violation is a traffic violation or offense that takes place while the car is operational, or moving. Some examples of a moving violation include:

  • Speeding
  • Making an unsafe lane change
  • Running a red light
  • Running a stop sign
  • Driving while under the influence

A non-moving violation occurs when a car is not in motion, or when a piece of equipment is faulty or broken. Some examples include:

  • Parking violations (for example, meter violations or illegally parking in a handicap spot)
  • Broken headlights or taillights
  • Paperwork violations (like expired tags, license, or registration)

A big distinction between moving and non-moving violations is this: moving violations will normally end up on your record.

In fact, non-moving violations generally do not end up on a driver’s record, nor do they result in points. However, according to legal experts at Nolo, some states allow for all violations — moving and non-moving – to end up on your record.

What is a car insurance surcharge?

Every car insurance company has something called a surcharge schedule.

A surcharge is essentially a penalty or increase that a provider will add to your premium as a result of certain violations or incidents.

This means if you were to get a speeding ticket or end up in a car accident, car insurance companies will refer to their surcharge schedule, and add that on top of your rates. Though this is not an exhaustive list, some violations that drivers can be surcharged for include:

  • Speeding
  • Careless driving
  • Failure to yield
  • DUI
  • Improper turns

The good news is that surcharges don’t last forever and will eventually drop off. However, they can remain on your premium for as long as the violation is part of your record.

Something else about surcharges? They aren’t just limited to accidents and tickets. Insurers can also attach surcharges to other events like late payments, or having poor credit.

How insurers determine actual surcharges isn’t exactly common knowledge, nor is it standard across companies or states. But what we do know is this — insurers are paying close attention to your infractions, and are ready to charge accordingly.

Will your car insurance rates go up after a speeding ticket?

Without a doubt, speeding is one of the most common moving violations. And know this — if you get a speeding ticket, you have a good chance of seeing your rates increase.

In fact, in our analysis of the top 10 car insurance companies, we find that drivers going from a clean record to having one speeding ticket will, on average, experience a 17.5 percent rate increase.

To further analyze rates, we turned to data acquired from Quadrant. We broke down the average rates among the top 10 providers, comparing drivers with clean records and drivers with one speeding ticket:

Insurance ProviderAverage Rate with a
Clean Record
Average Rate with
One Speeding Ticket
Allstate$3,819.90$4,483.51
American Family$2,693.61$3,025.74
Farmers$3,460.60$4,079.01
Geico$2,145.96$2,645.43
Liberty Mutual$4,774.30$5,701.26
Nationwide$2,746.18$3,113.68
Progressive$3,393.09$4,002.28
State Farm$2,821.18$3,186.01
Travelers$3,447.69$4,260.80
USAA$1,933.68$2,193.25
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Straight away, we see that the auto insurer charging the highest average rates for drivers with one speeding ticket is Liberty Mutual, at $5,701.26. The company charging the lowest average rates is USAA, at $2,193.25.

The company with the largest difference in rates between the two categories is Liberty Mutual, at $926.96. On the flip side, the smallest difference in rates can be seen with USAA, at $259.57.

Finally, in examining which companies have the largest percent increase from a clean record to one speeding ticket, we see that Travelers and Geico are neck-and-neck. Drivers going from a clean record to one speeding ticket can expect an average 23.5 percent increase in rates with Travelers, and an average 23.3 percent increase in rates with Geico.

Will my car insurance provider be lenient with my ticket?

Right about now, you may be wondering,

  • “What if I was only going a few miles over the speed limit?”
  • “What if this was my first ticket? Is there any leniency for that?”

The answer is maybe – depending on your provider. Here’s why:

  • Some companies won’t increase your rates for a first offense.
  • Your surcharge may vary based upon how fast you were speeding. For example, a driver ticketed for going 10 miles over the speed limit may experience a smaller rate hike than a driver who went 25 miles over the speed limit.
  • Some will offer the option of purchasing violation forgiveness as an add-on to your policy. This means if you get a ticket, they may choose to forgive you if you’ve maintained a clean record for a set period of time.

Bottom line? Speeding tickets and how they impact your rates will vary on a case-by-case basis. But your best protection is to adhere to the rules of the road.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tl7M3LP6kQE

How long will speeding tickets stay on my record?

How long a speeding ticket remains on your record will largely depend on what state you live in. For instance, in the state of California, a speeding ticket will remain on your record for 39 months. In the state of Virginia, that time period is five years. That being said,

In most states, speeding tickets typically remain on a driver’s record for three years.

For as long as your ticket remains on your record, you can expect that it will affect your premium.

– Can I Remove Speeding Tickets From My Record?

If you’re hoping for a way to keep that speeding ticket off of your record and out of the view of your insurers, you may be in luck.

A number of states give drivers the chance to remove speeding tickets and points from their records by attending traffic school or defensive driving.

For instance, in the state of Utah, drivers can get 50 points removed from their records by attending an approved defensive driving course. Drivers with moving violations in Washington, D.C. may also be eligible to have points removed by attending an approved, online defensive driving course. The key will be in contacting your state’s DMV to see what is permissible.

Depending on the circumstances, another viable option for drivers may be in contesting the ticket. When determining whether or not you should fight a speeding ticket, Nolo offers the following tips:

  • Was there an error in the officer’s approach or methods?
  • Did the officer stop the wrong car?
  • Were you going just a few miles over the limit?

Contesting your ticket could prove to be time-consuming. But if you’re successful, your ticket could be reduced, or better yet, dismissed.

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Will my car insurance rates go up after an accident?

Drivers who are found to be at-fault in a car accident can usually expect their rates to go up.

When looking at the top 10 insurers, we found that drivers with one speeding ticket will, on average, see their rates increase by 31.3 percent.

Here’s a company-by-company breakdown of rates when we compare drivers with a clean record, to drivers with one accident.

Average Annual Car Insurance Rates With One Accident
CompaniesAverage Annual Rates With a Clean RecordAverage Annual Rates With One Accident
USAA$1,933.68$2,516.24
Geico$2,145.96$3,192.77
State Farm$2,821.18$3,396.01
Nationwide$2,746.18$3,396.95
American Family$2,693.61$3,722.75
Travelers$3,447.69$4,289.74
Farmers$3,460.60$4,518.73
Progressive$3,393.09$4,777.04
Allstate$3,819.90$4,987.68
Liberty Mutual$4,774.30$6,204.78
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The company charging the highest average rates for one car accident is Liberty Mutual, at $6,204.78. Conversely, USAA auto insurance charges the lowest average rates for those with a one-car accident on their record at $2,516.24.

Customers insured with Liberty Mutual can expect to see the biggest dollar-amount increase. In going from a clean record to having a  one-car accident on it, the difference among those insured with Liberty Mutual is $1,430.48. The smallest difference can be seen among State Farm car insurance customers, at $574.83.

Finally, the company with the largest percent increase from a clean record to one car accident is Geico, at 48.8 percent. The company with the smallest percent increase is State Farm, at 20.4 percent.

Will my car insurance provider be lenient with my car accident?

When considering just how much your rates could jump with an at-fault accident, here are a few other things to keep in mind:

  • Rate increases will vary from state to state. What is standard in one location could be higher or lower in another.
  • If the crash was especially severe, or there were injuries involved, this can also lead to a higher surcharge.
  • If you already have a history of accidents or tickets, this will raise another red flag for insurers and can lead to higher rates.
  • Some insurers will still raise your rates, even if you were not at fault. This can especially be true if your company paid out a claim on your behalf.

And remember, there are a number of insurers who offer accident forgiveness. For some, accident forgiveness will be automatic, especially if it’s your first-ever accident or your first in several years. For others (as demonstrated in the video below), it will come as an add-on you can purchase along with your regular policy. Speak to your provider to learn more about their accident forgiveness policies.

How long will accidents stay on my record?

For the most part, accidents will remain on your record for 3-5 years. However, more serious accidents like a hit and run or a DUI will stay on your record much longer – some for more than a decade.

Take, for instance, the state of New York. According to the Department of Motor Vehicles, accidents remain on your record through the end of the year in which they occurred, plus three years. In California, accidents will remain on your record for three years and three months. However, hit-and-runs and DUIs will stay on your record for 13 years.

Will your car insurance go up after a DUI?

When it comes to DUIs and car insurance, there’s no other way to say it.

Not only will your rates increase after a  DUI, but they will also increase dramatically.

In fact, our research reveals the average rate hike among the nation’s top ten insurers is at 57.5 percent.

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of average rates among drivers with clean records, and those with one DUI.

Insurance ProviderAverage Rate with a
Clean Record
Average Rate with
One DUI
Allstate$3,819.90$6,260.73
American Family$2,693.61$4,330.24
Farmers$3,460.60$4,718.75
Geico$2,145.96$4,875.87
Liberty Mutual$4,774.30$7,613.48
Nationwide$2,746.18$4,543.20
Progressive$3,393.09$3,969.65
State Farm$2,821.18$3,636.80
Travelers$3,447.69$5,741.40
USAA$1,933.68$3,506.03
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The company charging the highest average rate for one DUI is Liberty Mutual at $7,613.48. Just behind Liberty Mutual are Allstate and Travelers auto insurance, at $6,260.73 and $5,741.40, respectively. The company charging the lowest average rate for one DUI is USAA at $3,506.03.

Those insured with Liberty Mutual and Geico can expect to see the largest dollar-amount increase between a clean record and one DUI, at $2,839.18 and $2,729.91, respectively.

Finally, the company with the largest percent increase in rates is Geico, with a staggering 127.2 percent hike. On the other hand, the company with the smallest percent increase in rates is Progressive, at just under 17 percent.

– How long will a DUI stay on your record?

Drivers, be warned – getting a DUI will lead to a host of severe consequences, including a mark on your driving record. How long that mark stays on your record will depend on where you live. To give you an indication of how much this varies by state:

At the end of the day, it isn’t just about the high rates or your driving record. Drinking and driving is dangerous and can change lives forever — including yours.

– What are points, and how do they affect your driving record?

There are two major “point systems” that can affect a driver’s record and rates.

  • Driver’s license points are managed by your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles and serve as a record of your traffic convictions.
  • Car insurance points are handled solely by your provider and encompass a number of factors and incidents – not just traffic violations.

We broke down both below.

Driver’s License Points

With driver’s license points (also known as demerit points) the Department of Motor Vehicles assigns points to drivers for different violations. The violations and corresponding values will differ based upon where you live but usually become higher as the violation becomes more serious. For example, a driver may get one or two points for speeding, but end up getting three or four points for a DUI.

Once you’ve been assigned points for a certain violation, it will remain on your record for a set period of time. Depending on the offense, it could be as little as one year, or as many as ten. This will vary from state to state.

But there’s more.

Drivers must also be aware that if they get too many points in a certain period of time, their driver’s license can face an automatic suspension.

To get a better idea of how your state assigns points, visit your state Department of Motor Vehicle’s website.

Car Insurance Points

Confusing as it may seem, car insurance points are not the same as getting points on your license. Car insurance companies will assign points to a variety of factors that can impact your rates. This can include everything from:

  • Accidents
  • Where you live
  • How much you drive
  • Past claims
  • …and more

Car insurance companies will use these factors and corresponding points to come up with a score. Some scores will translate into higher rates, and others into lower rates. While we don’t know a lot about what these systems look like, we know this — they are often regulated by their state’s Department of Insurance and will differ from company to company and from state to state.

How can I clear my bad driving record?

Without a doubt, having an infraction on your driving record is frustrating – especially when it results in higher prices.

However, when it comes to clearing your record, there really is no “magic bullet’ scenario. More often than not, drivers will just need to allow the violation to fall off over time.

You may, however, have some options.

One is to enroll in a traffic school or a defensive driving course. In many states, these courses can result in the removal of certain minor violations from your record, beyond just speeding tickets.  Check with your state DMV to see what eligible courses are available and if they can be applied to your record.

Depending on where you live, you may also be able to request that your record be expunged. Experts with Nolo say that the rules and eligibility for expungement will be different in each state. However, in most cases, you must be a first-time offender, and you’ll have to wait for a certain period of time before you can apply.

Four Must-Know Facts about Warnings

Verbal Warning vs Written Warning

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.

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 someplace (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 will 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

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

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 files.

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.

Your Car Insurance History

For car insurers, it isn’t just about accidents, tickets, and violations. A lapse in coverage or your claims history will also have a significant impact on your rates.

It’s why we’re breaking down both below.

What is a lapse in car insurance coverage?

There’s no other way around it  — having car insurance is a legal requirement in just about every state. If you don’t have any in place, you can get into serious trouble.

For some, a lack of coverage will be the result of a lapse in their car insurance policies.

A lapse takes place when your insurance policy has expired, or it has been canceled by your provider. Lapses are often the result of a driver failing to make required car insurance payments on time – even beyond the grace period.

As soon as your policy is canceled, your insurer will be required to notify the state. Once the state is notified of your cancellation, your license could be automatically suspended.

Here’s another important point — having lapsed coverage can lead to higher car insurance premiums. Why? Because insurers see drivers who don’t maintain their coverage as a risk. And at the end of the day, high-risk drivers pay significantly higher rates.

There are more ramifications to keep in mind:

  • If you continue to drive without insurance and you get into an accident, you could end up shouldering the financial burden of all costs and damages.
  • If you’re pulled over and can’t provide proof of insurance, you can face tickets, penalties, and fines. 
  • If your license was suspended as a result of your lapse, you’ll need to get it reinstated. In order to get your license reinstated, you will likely need to have an SR-22 form to be filed with your policy.

If your policy lapsed for just a few days, you may be able to contact your provider and get reinstated. But this is not something drivers should bank on. We can’t state it enough – lapsed coverage is unwise and very dangerous.

How do claims affect your car insurance premium?

First thing’s first — a claim is any instance in which you’ve filed a request with your car insurance company asking them to cover the cost of damages to your car. The good news? Not all claims will have a negative effect on your policy. The bad news? For the ones that do, they can lead to noticeable price hikes.

According to the Insurance Information Institute,

If you make a claim against your policy that goes above a specific amount, and it’s because of an accident you caused, your rates will likely go up.

Not only will your rates go up, but the claim will typically remain on your record for about 3-5 years. Finally, it will also end up on your CLUE Auto Report. How much your rates will increase after a claim will depend on a number of factors. We’ve compiled a few below.

Claims Factors that Affect PremiumsImpact
Your ageYounger drivers with less experience tend to pay higher rates
Your stateAverages vary greatly between states
Whether there were injuriesInjuries present will make your rates increase even more
History of accidents and ticketsA blemished driving history can point to greater risk, signaling a rate hike
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Notable factors that could impact your rate increase will include your age (particularly if you’re under 25), where you live (as surcharges vary by state), if there were injuries, and whether you already have a history of accidents or other violations.

When should I file a claim?

Filing a claim is an important decision that will often be in your best personal, financial, and legal interest. Experts recommend filing a claim when:

  • You’ve caused an accident with injuries to another person
  • You’ve caused an accident with damage to someone else’s car or property
  • You’ve had an accidental collision by yourself, and you’ve caused major damage to your car
  • You’ve been in an accident with someone else, but who is at fault isn’t clear

However, there are some instances in which you can consider not filing a claim. This includes:

  • If the incident involved only you, and the damage is minor. After all, a few scrapes or a small knick may not be worth involving the insurance company if, in the long run, it means a rate increase.
  • If the claim barely exceeds or is less than your deductible for your collision coverage. In the end, paying a little extra will be far less of a headache than filing a claim, and having it as part of your history.

How long do claims stay on your record?

Whenever you apply for insurance, the company will run your accident history and your motor vehicle report to find out if you have any at-fault accidents.

Having accidents can affect your quotes and your eligibility for insurance. It is nice to know that filing a claim is not going to haunt you for life.

In most states, car accidents and reported claims will fall off of your record after three years. In some states the drop off period is after five years.

It is important that you know that some companies will ask for you to list accidents that are as far as seven years back. You must still be honest while doing this so that your quote is accurate.

You will not be charged for the loss, but may not get certain discounts based on the state eligibility rules.

Surprisingly to most, if you have an accident that results in $30,000 of property damage, you will pay the same premium surcharge as you would if the damage was only $2000.

If you had an accident and you feel like your rates are too high, now might be the time to begin shopping.

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How does a bad driving record affect your car insurance rates?

For most, finding a car insurance provider is as simple as getting a few quotes and selecting the cheapest option. But for others, it just isn’t that easy.

Whether it’s been a series of tickets, a major conviction, or a severe accident, risky driving behavior comes at a high price. Even though finding a provider may prove to be challenging for drivers with less-than-stellar records, know this — It isn’t impossible.

How do I get insurance as a high-risk driver?

Car insurance providers tend to place drivers into one of three categories:

  • Preferred customers, or those with good driving records
  • Standard customers, or those with average records
  • Non-standard customers, also known as high-risk drivers

High-risk drivers include those who have multiple violations or accidents, inexperienced drivers (like teens), drivers with lapsed coverage, or those with poor credit.

Unfortunately, not all providers are willing to insure high-risk drivers. If drivers find they are being turned down by insurers, they may need to pursue high-risk, or non-standard, insurance.

If your own insurer doesn’t offer high-risk insurance options, you may need to contact your state’s department of insurance. They may be able to provide you with a list of providers.

Drivers will also want to take advantage of shopping rates. Simply reaching out to various providers can help you narrow down the field to see which insurers are willing to work with you.

State-Assigned Car Insurance Pools

Drivers who continue to have difficulty finding coverage may need to turn to an assigned-risk insurance pool.

An assigned-risk insurance pool is run by the state. Regulators ask companies to pool together to ensure high-risk drivers are able to purchase insurance coverage.

Typically, the prerequisite in applying for this type of coverage is that you’ve been turned down by multiple companies. But be warned – as beneficial as these pools are to those who need them, it’s expensive. However, it’s a price worth paying to keep you, and other drivers, safe on the road.

You can begin exploring your state’s assigned-risk pool programs by visiting the Automobile Insurance Plan Services Office (AIPSO), and search for your state under “Plan Sites.”

Frequently Asked Questions: What Affects Your Car Insurance Rates

Fix-it tickets, repossession, and police reports. You asked, and now we’ve compiled a list of some of your most frequently asked questions.

Do car insurance companies check police reports?

If you’ve been in a car accident and law enforcement respond to the scene, they will likely write a police report. If you or the other driver makes a claim with an insurance company, you can guarantee that the insurer will check the police report. These reports will serve as an important source of information in the claims process, particularly in determining who was at fault.

If someone else is driving your car and they get in an accident, how will it affect your rates?

If you loan your car to a friend and they get into an accident, it’ll be your insurancenot your friend’s insurance – that will serve as the primary source of coverage.

  • If your friend is the at-fault driver, your insurance will cover any costs and damages resulting from the accident. If you don’t have collision coverage, you may be stuck with covering the costs of repairing your car.
  • If it turns out your liability coverage isn’t enough to cover the costs or damages, then your friend’s coverage may be added to fully cover costs.
  • However, if your friend hits another car and they’re not at fault, then the other driver’s insurance will cover costs or damages.

Bottom line? Think very carefully about loaning someone else your car. Because if the worst-case scenario takes place, you may be on the hook.

What’s a “fix-it” ticket?

The expectation for any driver is that your car should be working in a safe and “roadworthy” manner. That includes functioning headlights and taillights, brakes, rearview mirrors, license plates, and mufflers — just to name a few. So when an officer sees one of these parts isn’t working properly, you may get cited.

These are formally known as mechanical, correctable, or vehicle violations. Informally, they’re known as “fix-it” tickets.

If you’re cited for one of these violations, you’ll be issued a ticket requiring you to fix the issue within a certain period of time. Once remedied, you’ll need to provide proof with your local sheriff’s office or court. As long as you’ve fixed the issue, the ticket is usually dismissed (usually with a fee), and won’t end up on your record.

However, if you don’t fix the issue, you can face additional fines and another ticket — one that could end up on your record.

What happens to my insurance if my car is repossessed?

If your car has been repossessed, it’s because you’ve fallen behind on your payments. As long as this defaulted payment hits your credit score, this can have a negative impact on your car insurance rates.

Remember, most states allow insurers to look at your credit history as part of their rate-assessment process. If your history shows a vehicle repossession, insurers will likely see you as a risk, and charge higher rates.

Frequently Asked Questions

Got a question related to how driving record could affect your insurance? We’ve got you covered below.

Can my car insurance company drop me?

There are several different reasons that your car insurance can cancel your insurance plan. If you stop making payments on your plan, your plan will cancel after the grading period ends. If you request the policy to be canceled in writing, the policy will be set up to end on the effective date you request.

The reasons you might be more interested in learning about are when the insurer sets up a cancellation or a non-renewal for reasons other than a missed payment or a request.

A policy cancellation ordered by the insurer occurs when the policy is terminated before the term ends.

The insurer must have a valid reason as to why they are terminating the contract. The insurer is also required to give you notice in writing before the policy cancels.

You are given a specified period to find a new policy so that you are not stuck driving without insurance.

An insurance company does not have the legal right to drop your insurance with no warning.

The reasons your policy can be canceled and the amount of time you have to find a new policy vary from state to state. You will need to check the regulations in your state to determine when a cancellation is validated and when it is not.

In almost all states, your insurer has the right to cancel your policy for virtually any reason for the first 30 or 60 days.

You must be sure that you are honest on your application so that you can avoid an unexpected termination.

non-renewal is an insurer action that occurs when the underwriters decide that they will not continue the policy after the term ends. When you buy insurance, it stays in force for 6 or 12 months.

Once that policy is up, the household is underwritten much like it was when the policyholder first applied for cover.

The insurer is dropping your policy when a non-renewal is ordered. Things that could cause a non-renewal to include:

  • Claims
  • Violation
  • Suspension

Typically, you will receive a letter about 30 days before your renewal stating that the policy will not renew. The letter may give you an explanation or advise you to call the insurer.

Within this time frame, you would receive your new invoice if the insurer were continuing with the coverage.

If you would like to find out why the coverage will not renew, you have the right to speak with someone in the consumer affairs department. If you are not happy with the explanation, you can then contact the State Department of Insurance.

Early Cancellation Recission

As previously stated, a car insurer can cancel a newly issued policy for almost any reason in the first 60 days. This early cancellation is called rescission, and the company will likely return all of the money you have paid towards your down payment and premiums. Rescission cancellations are most common when an individual does not list violations or drivers on their application.

It is also possible if there are fraudulent claims filed on your insurance record that can be seen by all insurance companies.

If the policy has been in force for more than 60 days, the insurer has a lot less leeway when it comes to canceling a policy. The 60-day time frame gives the insurer time to review the risk and decide whether or not the premium justifies the risk being taken.

Will my car insurance be affected by a single-vehicle accident?

There are a lot of reasons that a single-vehicle accident might occur. Your brakes could go out, you could try to avoid hitting an animal, you could lose control of your vehicle, and more.

Although single car accidents aren’t as common as multi-car accidents, they are certainly common enough!

Not everyone will have a rate increase if they have a single-car accident. Liability insurance isn’t designed to protect your vehicle. Liability insurance is coverage for other vehicles that are damaged in an accident that you cause. Understand this distinction because only collision insurance provides coverage for damage to your vehicle.

If you hit an animal, a tree, a wall, or flip your vehicle, if you don’t have collision coverage, then you will be responsible for the costs. Many people make the mistake of thinking that their insurance goes up after an accident because they get a ticket or are at fault in the accident.

The truth is, however, that the insurance company will determine an increase based on what they have to pay out after an accident.

If you are in a single-car accident and you dent your fender, then you don’t even need to make a claim. In fact, unless the damages far exceed the amount of your deductible, then you don’t want to make a claim.

If you make a claim, even if the insurance company doesn’t have to pay you any money, you may see an increase in your premiums.

The increase should be minor if the insurance company doesn’t have to write a check but expect an increase nonetheless. When you report you have had an accident, it goes on your record and counts against you in terms of being a safe driver. Keep that in mind because, in a single-car accident, the insurance company can only assume you are responsible for the accident occurring.

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The Bottom Line

When it’s all said and done, your car insurance rates aren’t always so cut and dry. Providers will look to a variety of factors in determining your premiums –– many that are beyond your control.

But one thing car insurance customers can control is how they drive.

Bottom line? If you want to maintain good car insurance rates, strive to be a good driver. Obey the speed limit, pay attention to the road, and never drink and drive.

And of course, you can never underestimate the power of shopping around for the best rates. Begin now by plugging in your ZIP code into our FREE car insurance comparison tool.

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