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What you pay for car insurance could increase significantly after a moving violation conviction. We’ll explain why this happens, when it happens, and how to determine whether a recent driving infraction will impact your policy's premium. Then we'll offer a few handy tips to help you bring your rate down after an increase.
Your driving history is one of the biggest factors in determining what you pay for car insurance. If you drive for several years without causing an accident or committing a violation, your insurer will reward you through lower rates and safe-driving discounts. That’s because safer drivers are less likely to crash (and file a claim) compared to a driver with a history of risky behavior.
Speeding, in particular, is a statistically proven expense for insurers. In a 2012 analysis of 2009 data, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that 31% of fatal car accidents involved speeding. And the estimated cost of speeding-related accidents was $40.4 billion. To offset the billions of dollars in claim payments, insurers raise premiums after many speeding convictions.
DMV.org tip: It’s worth noting here that your insurance will only increase following a conviction, so that’s all the more reason to contest any tickets you consider undeserved.
When moving violations raise your car insurance payments
Not all violations are created equal. Some minor infractions, like a parking ticket or a similar fix-it ticket, might not increase your rate at all. Others, like excessive speeding or a DUI conviction, can lead to a significant spike. As a general rule, the more points a violation adds to your official driving record, the more your car insurance rate could increase.
Typically, your auto insurance company reviews your rate before your policy term automatically renews. This means that if you were convicted of speeding just a few weeks into your policy term, your rate might not increase until the beginning of your next term.
How to find out whether your rate will increase
Because every state and every insurance company is different, call your provider to determine whether a moving violation conviction will affect your car insurance payments.
Length of time that a violation increases your rate
The length of time a moving violation will increase your car insurance rates can vary by state, insurer, and the severity of the violation itself. Your insurer checks your official driving record periodically, so if a violation remains on your record, your rate might remain affected by it.
In California, for example, a conviction for making an illegal turn stays on a driver’s official record for a period of 3 years. A DUI in California, on the other hand, remains on the record for 10 years.
Check with your insurer to find out exactly how long a violation might impact your premium.
3 Tips to Help You Save on Car Insurance
Your driving record plays a huge role in determining what you pay, but it’s not the only factor. To help offset a violation-related spike in your car insurance payments without sacrificing financial protection, look into these potential money-savers:
1) Compare car insurance quotes
Car insurance quotes are free and most companies are anxious to give you one. If your new premium is too high, take some time to see what other companies would charge for a policy with the same coverages, limits, and deductibles.
2) Drive less
Your insurance company likely factors your annual mileage into its pricing. If you can find a way to get to work and back on public transit, let your insurer know. You might qualify for a low-mileage discount.
3) Embrace Big Brother
More and more insurers are asking drivers to install telematics devices in their cars. These little computers can track driving habits and, assuming you avoid any further incidents, reward safe driving habits through lower rates over time. If you consider your violation conviction a fluke and you’re certain it won’t happen again, ask your insurer about these increasingly common “pay as you drive” programs.
The foolproof way to bring your premium back down
Predictably, the easiest way to pay less on your car insurance is to start driving safely. Over time, your insurance provider will recognize your skills and reward you for your safe-driving habits.
How car insurance policies are priced
Apart from your driving record, find out why you pay what you pay for car insurance.
The NHTSA’s study on speeding (PDF)
Dig a little deeper into the connections between speeding and costly (and sometimes fatal) car accidents.
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