How Your Car Insurance is Affected by Your Driving Record

A bad driving record will increase your car insurance rates by 41% on average. Reduce your bill with hidden discounts for low mileage and combined policies.

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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: Oct 3, 2020

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Here's what you need to know...

  • The significance of your rate hike will depend on the significance of your driving infraction
  • Even if you have a bad driving record, you can look for discounts on your insurance premium
  • You can compare prices to make sure you’re getting the best price for your coverage needs
  • If you decide to switch insurance companies, make sure your new company is reputable

Your driving record has the most impact on your car insurance rates over any other factor. If you have no driving record or a terrible driving record, your rates will be much higher than the rates for those drivers that have excellent or even good driving records.

In fact, in many states, there are insurance companies that don’t lower your rates to a more reasonable amount until you have at least three years driving experience. This applies whether you are 16 or 36.

If you don’t have driving experience, your rates will be much higher than those of someone with an established driving record.

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The fact is that your driving record is so important that on a list created by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, the number one way to save money on car insurance is to maintain a good driving record.

Something this important cannot be overlooked!

What is worse: having no driving record or having a bad driving record?

This is a tough question to answer.

The reason why it’s hard to answer is that it really depends on how bad your driving record is.

For example, a single serious accident can cause your rates to exceed those of a driver with no driving experience, however, a few speeding tickets mean that your rates will increase, but not the way they would if the insurance company had to pay a claim.

When you have no driving record at all, your rates are based on other drivers in your age group.

A teen driver, for example, will pay more than an adult who has no driving experience, simply because statistically, teens cause more accidents.

If you are an adult with no experience driving, your rates will be higher than other adults in your age bracket, because of your lack of experience. However, you rates will not be as high as those of a teen driver.

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How can I lower my car insurance rates if I have a bad driving record?

You have the same options for lowering your rates as those individuals that have good driving records. You can take advantage of various discounts offered by different insurance companies to get the lower rates that you want.

Some of the discounts include:

In addition, the longer you go without an incident on your record, the lower your rates will be. This applies to young drivers as well as to drivers who have a history of bad driving habits.

Typically, it takes about three years for an incident to no longer affect your insurance rates.

The exception to this is if you have a DUI. In most states, the incident will affect your rates for five to ten years.

In some states, such as Alaska, the incident is never removed from your driving history and, as such, will affect your rates for as long as you drive in that state.

Can a car insurance company refuse to insure me if I have a bad driving record?

Yes, an insurer can choose not to insure high-risk drivers. The good news is that, unless you have a series of DUIs, this probably won’t happen.

If you have made a lot of claims with a specific insurance company, they may refuse to insure you, but other insurance companies will probably go ahead and take the risk because they aren’t the ones that have had to pay out on your claims.

If your insurance company chooses to continue to insure your vehicle, even if you have made a lot of claims, you might find that another insurance company is willing to offer you lower rates.

It is for this reason that you should compare prices before you accept a policy with one insurance company.

How can I be sure that my new car insurance company is as good as my old one?

There are a few ways to ensure that any insurance company you are considering is worth your time.

  1. First of all, you can use the Better Business Bureau to look at any complaints concerning a company and how they were resolved.
  2. Secondly, you can use your state’s insurance commission’ website—it could be the Department of Insurance, or Insurance Department or something similar. Any complaints about a company that the state thinks are warranted will be posted with the insurance companies in question.
  3. Lastly, for financial security, you can use sites such as A.M. Best, to check an insurance company’s financial ratings. There are several of these types of sites available that can let you know if a company is doing well enough financially to pay their claims.

You can compare car insurance rates from multiple companies today by entering your ZIP code below!

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Enter your ZIP code below to view companies that have cheap car insurance rates.

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Average Monthly Car Insurance Rates by State