How Your Driving Record Affects Auto Insurance: Real Rate Examples
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Car insurance companies use a variety of factors and data when determining your auto insurance rates. While aspects such as credit score, marital status, type of coverage, and geographic location are all integral parts of the formula, your driving record is perhaps the most pivotal in how much you pay for your car insurance premiums.
Insurers are tight-lipped on just how much your driving history impacts your car insurance rates, but one thing is certain — a poor driving record can have a significant influence. Keep reading to find out how your driving record affects auto insurance rates, what you might pay, and what you can do to lower your insurance costs.
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What You Need to Know About How Driving Record Affects Auto Insurance Rates
Because your driving record is a general reflection of how you drive, it’s one of the primary factors auto insurance companies use to determine your rate. More importantly, the point system used on driver’s licenses can have a significant effect. In more simplistic terms, the more points you have on your license, the more likely you’ll have a higher rate in your auto insurance premiums.
Car insurance companies calculate your premiums based on risk. So, the more tickets you get, the more the insurance provider deems you a high-risk client. They reflect this risk in your premiums, so a person with more driver’s license points or general violations will inevitably pay more for insurance coverage.
What Violations Affect Car Insurance Rates?
In 41 states from New York to California, the state government has some sort of point system for moving violations and traffic tickets. The number of points given out for violations and tickets varies from state to state — as do the amounts of each fine.
Additionally, the severity of the moving violation can significantly impact your rates. But regardless of the type of violation, you’ll still see an increase in the cost of your car insurance.
Minor Traffic Violations
Some of the most common minor traffic violations are:
- Speeding tickets — in some states, the miles per hour that you exceed the speed limit can lead to more points, or in some cases, reckless driving charges
- Running a stop sign
- Running a red light
- Failure to yield
- Failure to signal
If you’re trying to determine how your driving record affects your auto insurance rates, minor violations will certainly increase them, albeit less than major traffic violations. In addition, multiple minor violations can cause you to accrue more points on your license, equating to a rate increase.
Major Traffic Violations
Major traffic violations — which have a larger impact on your car insurance rates — include:
- Reckless driving
- DUI or DWI
- Drag racing
- Using a car in the commission of a felony
- Driving with a suspended or revoked driver’s license
- Hit-and-run or leaving the scene of an at-fault accident
Drivers with major traffic violations incur steeper rate hikes due to the implied risk. Insurers believe you’re more likely to file insurance claims than other drivers, which can cause your rates to skyrocket.
In some cases, you can get a ticket that may or may not cause your insurance policy rates to increase — it all depends on the state. Depending on where you live, you may see a rate increase, but in a majority of states, these violations won’t impact your rate:
- Parking tickets
- Failure to show proof of insurance
- Expired registration
- Equipment violations, such as a burned-out bulb or a broken tail light
In any case, to get state-specific facts on how your driving record affects auto insurance rates, ask your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) which tickets go on your permanent record.
What If My State Doesn’t Have a Points System?
Nine states currently don’t have points systems, including:
Despite these states lacking a points system, law enforcement will record your violation, which goes on your personal record. Auto insurance companies will still have access to this information, which can affect your rates.
Also, note that due to the Driver’s License Compact (DLC) — an agreement between 45 states and Washington, D.C. to share ticket information and driver history — you can’t hide from traffic tickets if you’re in another state in most cases. Only Georgia, Michigan, Tennessee, Massachusetts, and Wisconsin are not part of the DLC.
What You Can Expect to Pay for Insurance Coverage
Everyone gets a bit of a lead foot, has a distraction, or receives a ticket every now and again, even if they’re a safe driver. How it affects your rate may vary based on other factors, but these statistics should give you a basic idea of what you can expect to pay if you maintain a clean driving record compared to what you might pay after various infractions and accidents:
Cost of Car Insurance for a Clean Driving Record
- Liability only: $123/month
- Full coverage: $274/month
Car Insurance Rates After One Speeding Ticket
- Liability only: $160/month
- Full coverage: $347/month
Car Insurance Rates After One At-Fault Accident
- Liability only: $179/month
- Full coverage: $390/month
Car Insurance Rates After One DUI/DWI
- Liability only: $251
- Full coverage: $536
How to Combat Higher Rates for Car Insurance
As you can tell from the stats above, a clean driving record can save you thousands of dollars a year. But you may feel helpless if you’ve already received a traffic ticket, DUI, or other citations, or you’ve been involved in an at-fault accident.
Thankfully, there are many ways to lower your car insurance rates, even after an infraction or accident. If this describes you, use a few of these tips to find more affordable rates:
- Take a defensive driving course. Most car insurance companies offer discounts if you complete an accredited defensive driving course. Ask your insurer for a list of course options, complete the course, and provide proof to get the discount.
- Become a homeowner. Let’s be real: It’s probably not in your best interest to buy a home just to get a discount on your home insurance. But if you’re considering becoming a homeowner, don’t forget to inform your car insurance agent once you buy. Owning a home can lower your car insurance rate from anywhere between 6-23%.
- Maintain a good credit score. If you want cheap car insurance, maintain good credit. Pay off your bills, keep your balances low, and check your credit report regularly, as your credit score is one of the many factors insurers use to calculate your rate.
- Bundle multiple policies. If you have more than one type of insurance product, it just makes sense to bundle them. Multi-policy discounts are readily available from almost all insurers, whether you need car, renters, home, motorcycle, or boat insurance.
- Raise your deductible. Although you may have to pay more out of pocket if you file a claim on your comprehensive coverage or collision coverage, raising your deductible can lower your car insurance premiums. If you have the ability to pay said deductible in an emergency, it might be a great move to save you money.
- Search for high-risk auto insurance. If you have multiple tickets, high-risk auto insurance is a viable option. Traditionally, some of the most popular national companies may have higher rates than high-risk insurers who specialize in this type of insurance. At the very least, it’s worth investigating.
Car Insurance Quotes: Your Key to Affordable Rates
Now that you know how a less-than-stellar driving record affects auto insurance rates, you’re more apt to drive safely, attentively, and defensively behind the wheel. Though you can’t change the past, you can sort out the future of your car insurance expenditures by shopping semi-annually or annually. Coupled with a dedication to safe driving, affordable auto insurance is closer than it might seem.
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Methodology: All of the data referenced in this article has been gathered in collaboration with Quadrant Information Services. We analyzed more than 2.5 million rows of carrier-reported data to calculate the average rates referenced above. All rates are based on an insurance profile of a single-vehicle policy for a driver that owns a Honda Accord. For more information on how we calculate rates, please reference our data methodology.
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