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How Driving History Affects Auto Insurance Rates

For better or worse, your driving record tells insurance companies a lot about you.

Insurers assess risk, and if your driving history contains numerous examples of poor judgment and unsafe driving habits, most providers will view you as an unattractive customer, and may either refuse to provide coverage or do so at an exorbitant rate.

That's yet another reason why it pays to obey traffic laws and avoid accidents.

Traffic Tickets

Traffic ticket violations range from failing to insert a quarter into a meter and receiving a parking ticket to being caught driving drunk. Accordingly, insurers view each traffic violation as a measure of your risk profile.

So, non-moving violations usually have little impact on your premiums. However, serious moving violations―such as speeding tickets and DUI offenses―signal to your carrier you're more likely to be involved in a claim, and raise the odds your premiums will rise.

The more tickets you accumulate, the higher your rates will escalate. And, for speeding tickets, the faster you were driving over the speed limit, the greater the chances your rates will go up.

But, many insurers won't hike your premiums following your first moving violation, even if it's for speeding.

Remember, where you live can play a factor. Some states prohibit insurers from imposing a rate hike following a first-time speeding offense, but other states require carriers to hike premiums after certain severe violations or a selected combination of driving offenses.

Amount of Increase

How much your rates rise depends on your carrier, age, policy, location, and driving history. Sometimes, even a single speeding violation can double or triple your premiums. And, younger drivers―who generally present the most risk to an insurer―stand a greater chance of seeing dramatic premium increases.

Length of Increase

Most carriers will increase your premiums for 3 years following a serious moving violation conviction, and might also do so for an at-fault accident.

Your rates should decrease once this period is over, if you don't accumulate any more offenses or accidents. But, your insurance company keeps track of all your traffic violations and accidents and uses this information when determining if they want to continue offering coverage to you.

Driving Under the Influence

A DWI or DUI conviction can cause your premiums to skyrocket, and make your carrier refuse to renew your policy. If that happens, your insurance choices will dwindle, forcing you to possibly settle for a provider with hefty premiums.

Remember, insurance is all about risk, and having a DUI/DWI conviction on your driving record makes you an unappealing customer for most carriers.


Being in a single accident can have a dramatic effect on your insurance premiums, even if you weren't at fault.

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