From speeding tickets to car accidents, driving comes with its fair share of risks.
Even when you’ve paid the fines and the dust has settled, you might find that your insurance company has hit you with a price increase (also known as a surcharge) as a result of your violation. Talk about adding insult to injury.
Though driving violations don’t always cause rate increases—perhaps it’s your first accident or your provider offers accident forgiveness—chances are your car insurance policy costs will increase after a moving violation. As a general rule of thumb, a violation will affect your premium for a chargeable period of three years. However, this is not a hard and fast rule. The length of the chargeable period of time depends on the insurance company, your state, and the severity of the violation.
If you have recently received a traffic ticket or been convicted of a traffic violation, it could be worth it to compare quotes from other insurance providers—you still might be able to secure a cheaper premium. Though your current provider might care a lot about your recent violation, another provider might not.
Insurance Costs and Your Driving Record
For better or worse, the Department of Motor Vehicles maintains a permanent record of your driving history. However, insurance companies don’t use these violations against you after their chargeable period. The chargeable period is the length of time an insurance company will increase your price because of a violation, such as a speeding ticket.
The Point System
If you drive, you’ve probably heard about a “license point system.” Though both the DMV and insurance companies use point systems, they are different and separate from each other. Insurance companies use their proprietary methods for assigning points while the DMV uses a clearly defined system. To make things even more confusing, DMV point systems vary from state to state.
For example, the number of points needed for a driver’s license suspension varies widely across the country. In California, a speeding ticket usually leads to one point against your license, while in New York, it can lead to anywhere from three to 11 points, depending on how fast over the speed limit you were driving. The number of points warranting suspension also varies appropriately, though, so three points on your license in California is not the same as three points on your license in New York.
|State||License Points Warranting Suspension||Time Frame|
|Arkansas||14||At any given time|
|Hawaii||No point system|
|Illinois||3 moving violations||1 year|
|Indiana||3 major offenses||10 years|
|Kansas||No point system|
|Louisiana||No point system|
|Massachusetts||12||At any given time|
|Minnesota||No point system|
|Mississippi||No point system|
|New Hampshire||12||1 year|
|New Jersey||12||At any given time|
|New Mexico||7||1 year|
|New York||11||1.5 years|
|North Carolina||12||3 years|
|North Dakota||11||At any given time|
|Oregon||No point system|
|Pennsylvania||6||At any given time|
|Rhode Island||No point system|
|South Carolina||12||At any given time|
|South Dakota||15||1 year|
|West Virginia||12||At any given time|
|Wyoming||No point system|
|Washington, D.C.||10||At any given time|
How Your Driving Record Affects Your Insurance Premiums
For most of the big insurance companies, chargeable violations that occurred within the past three years can lead to increased prices by way of surcharges. Though each company has its way of assigning points, they all take into account the severity of each driving violation and how long ago it happened. Many companies will decrease the surcharge for every year you maintain a clean driving record after a violation. After three years, you shouldn’t see any surcharge at all.
However, if you are applying for insurance at a new company, the carrier might look at violations older than three years when determining whether to accept your application. If you were convicted for reckless driving ten years ago, your current insurer won’t be able to apply a surcharge because of that conviction—but a new company could use that as a reason to deny your application.
Many insurers look favorably upon policyholders who complete a defensive driving course after committing a moving violation or offense. Whether or not you have been legally compelled to retake classes at a traffic school or your local DMV, having that course on your record might even qualify you for insurance discounts in the future.
Shopping for Car Insurance With a Traffic Ticket on Your Record
So, you were caught doing 80 in a 65 and got dinged with a speeding ticket…now what? Well, the premium on your current policy will probably increase. But, by shopping around, you might be able to minimize the financial damage and find a cheaper rate. After all, not all car insurance companies treat violations the same way.
Using Insurify is a quick and easy way to get quotes from top providers in three minutes or less. Though Insurify can’t promise a discount, you can be sure that by comparing quotes between top carriers, you will gain peace of mind knowing you have the best rate possible.
Keep in mind that if you do switch, your new company will still apply a surcharge until the chargeable period ends. It should just be a smaller surcharge. It is also important to know that, depending on the severity of your driving infraction, you might struggle with finding new car insurance to begin with. Some companies could outright deny your application, while others might be more expensive than your existing policy since you will no longer qualify for a “good driver discount.”
If you recently got a traffic ticket, your car insurance rates will likely be more expensive for the next three years. But this is not a strict rule. If you want to know the exact amount of time your rates will be affected, contact your insurance provider directly.
Let the countdown begin!