How Driving Record Points Affect Auto Insurance Rates
Your auto insurance rates are influenced by many factors―for example, your vehicle type, your age, your place of residence―but it's your driving record that carries the most clout.
This is your driving DNA.
With it, an insurance company can accurately determine if you're low risk or high risk and, accordingly, the higher the risk the higher the car insurance rate.
Depending on your state, you may or may not have points assigned to your driving record for a particular traffic ticket or other violation. The more egregious the violation, the higher the point amount. For instance, in New York, driving 30 mph over the posted speed limit carries a penalty of eight driving points, while an unsafe lane change costs three. Any driver totaling 11 or more points in an 18-month period faces an immediate suspension.
The intent of the point system is to identify dangerous drivers and penalize them accordingly. A higher insurance rate is a secondary consequence, serving as a double-whammy.
NOTE: Don't think you're immune to higher insurance rates if you reside in a state that does not employ a driving record points system. Traffic violations―speeding, DUI, reckless driving―will still appear on your driving record, giving auto insurance companies an accurate read.
To avoid higher insurance rates, view your driving record points like a golf score―the lower the better. This means driving safely to avoid traffic violations.
If you do get ticketed, all is not lost. Depending on your state there may be several ways to trim points from your record, such as:
- Attending a defensive driving school. If this option is offered, check with your DMV. Some states only honor course completion certificates from a narrow list of approved schools.
- Maintaining a spotless driving record. If, for example, you drive violation-free for X-number of years, your state may deduct points from your driving record. Check with your DMV if this option exists.
- Hiring a lawyer if you believe you were ticketed without good reason.
- Waiting it out. Many states will drop points after a set number of years. If this option exists and you're in the market for a new provider, don't shop for quotes until the points have been dropped from your record. Otherwise, you'll be quoted a higher rate.
Always keep track of your driving record. This bears especially true if you're looking for a new car insurance provider or if your current policy is approaching renewal. DMV offices are not infallible, and from time to time are known for posting incorrect driving record information.
A traffic violation that should have been removed from your driving record could mean the difference of several hundred dollars on your insurance rates or when you look for new insurance quotes.
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