How long do tickets affect my car insurance?

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Here's what you need to know...
  • A ticket will typically stay on your insurance record for three years
  • Different infractions cause different surcharges on your insurance
  • In addition to surcharges being added to your premium, discounts for being a good driver will be taken away


When you are pulled over for a traffic violation, the first thought that pops into your head is, “How much is this mistake going to cost me?”

The fines that offenders must pay when they are convicted of violating traffic laws are hefty, but fines are not the only costs associated with ignoring the rules of the road.

Many new drivers wonder why an insurance provider can  increase their rates when they have been cited for an action that did not result in an accident.

While the violation did not lead to damage or cost the insurance provider money in any way, shape or form, having tickets on your driving record does make you a higher risk.

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Why do moving violations affect auto insurance premiums?

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While moving violations do not cost the insurance companies money directly, the violations that lead to minor and serious accidents are the primary cause of damages.

Insurance companies have no way of projecting which violations will result in a collision and which will not, so they must raise the premiums for all drivers who have blemishes on their record.

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Risk and Moving Violations

Insurance is all about risk and insurance actuaries use a person’s driving record to determine how likely they are to get into an accident.

Someone who violates the law, even if it is a minor infraction, demonstrates that they are not the most responsible driver.

One ticket does not make you a high-risk driver, but multiple violations will.

Statistics and Moving Violations

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In addition to this, the statistics show that those who have been convicted of a traffic infraction are more likely to experience an at-fault accident within the year.

While not all statistics apply to every person, insurers are very statistics focused when they are assessing risk or they are calculating personalized rates.

How much will your rates go up after a moving violation?

After you get cited for an infraction, you are ordered to appear in court.

Your insurance company cannot actually see the infraction until you appear, you are found guilty, and the case is classified as a conviction.

After you are convicted, when a motor vehicle report is run by the insurer, it will show up and will be considered a chargeable violation.

When a moving violation is chargeable, it can affect your rates and also affect the discounts that you receive on your policy.

A chargeable violation is called a surcharge on a car insurance policy.

Common Surcharges

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How much your rates go up will depend on the insurer you have coverage through, the type of infraction, and the state you are in.

After comparing almost 500,000 policies, studies show that just a single moving violation can inflate premiums by as much as 22 percent.

Surcharges that are charged can range, but here is a list of the average surcharges for some of the most common violations:

  • Speeding – 11 percent
  • Improper turn – 14 percent
  • Careless driving – 16 percent
  • Failure to yield – 9 percent
  • Following too close  13 percent
  • DUI – 19 percent
  • Reckless driving – 22 percent

Other Factors That Can Affect Your Rates

Surcharges are not the only thing that affect your car insurance rates.

In addition to having your policy surcharged, the conviction can affect your eligibility for certain discounts that you have been receiving for being responsible behind the wheel.

The most common discounts that drivers lose when they have multiple violations include:

Losing these discounts can account for a premium increase of as much as 30 percent.

Unfortunately for inexperienced drivers who already do not receive the Good Driver Discounts that experienced drivers receive, the only option is for the rates to be surcharged more than the standard driver with experience.

Depending on how many tickets and accidents you have, you may or may not lose your discounts.

How long can an insurer legally surcharge rates?

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It would not be fair if an insurance company were allowed to increase your rates for as long as they felt necessary. This is why the state legislature has laws that say how long violations are surchargeable.

In a majority of states, the company is legally allowed to raise rates by an approved percentage for no more than 36 months when you have a minor infraction.

After the 36 month period is up, the surcharge is to be removed for that specific infraction.

If the driver has a different infraction, that will be eligible to be surcharged for its own 36 month period.

The surcharges for serious infractions like DUI or reckless driving may be even longer.

While the percentage of the increase will go down throughout the period, most states allow insurers to charge based on these violations for 7 to 10 years due to the severity of the convictions.

How long can discounts be removed for?

Just because a ticket is no longer eligible to be surcharged does not mean that the insurer cannot still collect more money.

Even after the surcharge period is over, the company may continue to charge higher premiums because they will remove your discounts for being a Good Driver. In some states, it can take 5 to 7 years just to qualify for a Good Driver classification.

When will the surcharge be placed on the policy?

Surcharges are not placed and the discounts are not removed right away. In fact, they are not removed right after a conviction, either.

Instead, it is not until the policy is set for renewal and reports are run during the underwriting phase that the new rates will be calculated. The thirty-six month period starts at this time.

It is recommended that anyone who is cited for a traffic violation completes traffic school when they are eligible.

If you do have surcharges and believe you are paying too much for your insurance, you can begin to shop by using our FREE car insurance comparison tool below!

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