Why Drivers Should Shop Around for Car Insurance After Getting a Ticket
One of the most stressful events to happen to a driver is receiving a traffic ticket. You will likely be pulled over at least once in your life. If you do receive a ticket or other citation for violating traffic laws, you might start to worry about your car insurance premium, on top of any fees that might come along with the fees.
Tickets can stay on your record for three to five years, which can affect your insurance premiums and cause a larger hit to your wallet than whatever fine came with the original ticket itself.
Despite this, you still have options for car insurance. Just because you have a ticket on your record does not mean you can’t get a better rate on your auto insurance, or you must accept rate hikes from your current car insurance company.
You have more choices than you might think, and the time immediately after getting a ticket is a great time to shop around for a better auto insurance rate.
What Should You do After Getting a Ticket?
There are some steps you can take after you are given a traffic ticket or moving violation that may help your rates in the long run. Pleading guilty and mailing the fine back to the precinct will result in the ticket showing on your record.
Your carrier may not know of your ticket immediately, but when they pull your DMV record again – likely at the time of your renewal – they will become aware of additional points on your license and may increase your rates.
However, you may decide to fight the ticket and request a court date rather than pleading guilty by mail. This lets you and the officer speak to a judge and give your side.
Sometimes the police officer will be willing to work with you and reduce the charge. For example, a small speeding charge may be reduced to a charge with fewer points or penalties. This could benefit you by reducing the number of points added to your record, which may reduce the amount your rate is increased at the time of your renewal.
The judge might also offer you ways to reduce the charge, such as attending a defensive driving course. This is a simple and low-effort way to save money. Defensive driving courses are offered online or in-person at a low-cost. For a few hours of your time, you could earn a premium discount that will be good for several years and reduce the number of points added to your record.
Lower Your Premium by Shopping Around
Even if your current carrier offered you the best rates before your ticket, it doesn’t mean they will continue to offer you the best rates afterward. Shopping around for car insurance is a good idea financially, especially if you have not looked at your options in a while. Try Compare.com’s car insurance calculator to see other carriers’ rates and coverages – it only takes about 10 minutes to see what you could be paying.
Focus on your Credit Score
Your credit score is one rating factor car insurance companies use to determine your premium. If you have a great credit score, then you have even more of a reason to look around.
FICO provides insurance scores to carriers, which includes metrics from both good and bad credit habits you may have. If you work to maintain good credit, you can help your FICO insurance score, which can help you get the best rate.
On the other hand, if you think your credit score may hurt your rate some carriers do not look at the credit score. One such company is Lonestar MGA, based in Texas, but there are several out there.
Try Different Carriers
You do have a lot of options when it comes to car insurance. You do not need to use the big-name carriers or the ones you see on TV commercials. Smaller or regional carriers could have the best rate for you.
It all depends on your circumstances, and Compare.com has lots of carriers of all sizes and specialties to compare. Your next best rate may well be with a company you have not heard of.
Pay by the Mile
A creative solution being introduced around the US is pay-per-mile auto insurance. These policies work well for people who do not drive much and are looking for a competitive rate best suited to their driving habits.
Metromile is one pay-per-mile specialty carrier in the US. If you are in a state where they are approved to do business – currently only Arizona, California, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington – this could be an economical model to try.
Compare their offerings with your traditional carrier to see the differences in coverage and rates. Some traditional carriers, like Allstate and Nationwide, have also begun to offer pay-per-mile programs as well.
These may be a more economical solution following a ticket as compared to their traditional car insurance offerings. You might have been unable to consider a pay-per-mile solution in the past, but your circumstances may have changed following COVID-19. You might be working from home and therefore not commuting so you can explore pay-per-mile options.
Have You Shopped Around Lately?
If you have not shopped around for car insurance in a while, you may be pleasantly surprised by the results when you compare carriers, even after getting a ticket. Have any factors changed for you since the last time you compared carriers?
Common life events and milestones like getting married – or even getting older – can affect your rates. Additionally, if you have moved or have purchased a new car, these changes can affect your rates.
Your lifestyle may have changed, too. Do you have fewer drivers on your policy? Is your car primarily kept in a garage overnight where before it was parked on the street? Has your use of your car changed – maybe you drive less at night or on risky roads?
Shopping around and doing a side-by-side comparison of different carriers can help you see how they handle risk factors and find the most beneficial solution for your circumstances.
Another thing to consider – if you have been with the same carrier for several renewal cycles, you may no longer be getting the best rate they can offer. Some carriers slightly increase rates every renewal as a course of business. If your carrier has done this, you may not even be aware of it. This fact alone makes looking at other carriers from time to time worth it.
Make sure you are taking advantage of all the discounts you can. Some carriers will help you find all the discounts you are entitled to. For example, do you have a home policy to bundle with your auto? Do one of your children qualify as a good student driver?
Be sure all licensed drivers take a defensive driving course every three years to maintain this discount. Including carriers who specialize in maximizing available discounts for their policyholders into your comparison ensures you capture all the discounts you are eligible for.
Insurance companies are in the business of analyzing data and some carriers are willing to incentivize you to provide your driving data collected through telematics.
If you are willing to share driving data with your carrier – metrics like miles driven, speed, acceleration, and hard braking – your carrier may offer you a discount for that information.
These kinds of things are valuable to car insurance companies. You can install a dashcam and separate telematics device or download an app to your mobile device to measure telematics and report them to your carrier.
What if This is not Your First Ticket?
If you have multiple traffic tickets, saving money on your car insurance can come as a challenge to you. If you keep getting denied for a policy, you may need to look for coverage for non-standard drivers – a policy offered to drivers who are considered high-risk. Many carriers write non-standard coverage, and some top carriers offer both standard and non-standard coverage.
Another option is to increase your deductible or lower your coverage limits. This could help account for any premium increase caused by the traffic ticket. You can find companies like Gainsco and Good2Go who specialize in minimum-limits coverage on Compare.com. Spending time to carefully consider your options before reducing your coverage is prudent.
How Can I Find the Best Rate After Getting a Traffic Ticket?
Looking around will help you find the best rate and is a great option if you have not compared prices in a while. If you have received a traffic ticket, you may think you have no control over your rates increasing, but this is not always true. By comparing different carriers and coverages you can rest easy knowing you have secured the best rate available for you.
How Long Will a Ticket Affect my Auto Insurance Rates?
This can depend on where you live and the type and severity of the traffic ticket. However, most tickets affect your rates for three to five years. It may take your carrier several months to become aware of your ticket as they will usually only pull your DMV record at the time of your renewal. Surcharges vary depending on the type of driving offense ticketed.
What Factors Affect my Auto Insurance Rates?
Many factors affect auto insurance rates in addition to your driving record. These include where you live, how much and when you drive your car, how many people regularly drive your car, and various demographic factors – for example, your age and if you are married or single.
Some carriers use credit score as a factor in determining rates. Your past driving history, including any tickets, is also considered.
What Can I do to Lower my Rates?
There are many options you can try to lower your rates. Consider increasing your deductible, changing limits, maximizing any applicable discounts, and sharing your telematics data with your carrier. Shop around to compare different types of carriers – is a traditional carrier still your best option or should you consider a non-standard carrier or a pay-per-mile carrier?
When is the Best Time to Shop Around for Auto Insurance?
Anytime is a good time to shop around, but it is especially important after a traffic ticket, accident, or major life change. You should plan to compare rates as often as your driving history and demographics change. Keep an eye on your rate and see if it increases, especially if you have been with the same carrier for several years – they may increase your rate by a small amount at each renewal, which can add up quickly.
Now that you understand why you should shop around for car insurance after getting a ticket, visit us at Compare.com to see your car insurance options compared side-by-side.
Our site makes it easy to input your details quickly, compare your options, and do your research thoroughly. Once you have learned about your options, purchase the policy that makes the most sense for you.
To learn more about comparing auto insurance quotes, simply enter your ZIP code below. Finding the best rate only takes a few minutes and comparing car insurance quotes is totally free!