How Do Seatbelt Tickets Affect Your Car Insurance?

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Getting a ticket is no fun and can be quite expensive.

First, you’re going to have to pay that ticket off. Soon afterward, the consequences of your at-fault driving violation might raise your auto insurance rates.

But it’s important to keep in mind that different types of tickets can affect your insurance rates in different ways…including seatbelt tickets.

Insurify is here to help you navigate the changing costs of your car insurance policy, no matter your driving record. Compare car insurance quotes, unlock discounts, and secure savings on your plan…whether it’s five bucks per year or hundreds of dollar off of your current big-name carrier policy.

What is a seatbelt ticket?

If you’re caught driving without wearing your seatbelt, you may receive a seatbelt ticket from the officer. Seatbelt tickets are a conditional violation; you wouldn’t get pulled over for not wearing your seatbelt, but if the officer pulls you over for some other reason (e.g., for speeding) and notices that your seatbelt isn’t fastened, you may get a seatbelt ticket on top of your speeding ticket.

Different states treat seatbelt violations in different ways.

Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Utah, and Wyoming all consider seatbelt tickets to be the consequence of a “non-moving violation.” That puts seatbelt tickets on par with parking tickets in these states. Keep in mind that state laws may change at any time, so it’s wise to confirm the current rules for your state.

Seatbelt tickets and insurance rates

If you’re ticketed for not wearing your seatbelt in a state that considers seatbelt tickets a moving violation, you may see an uptick in your insurance rates. Nonmoving violations will typically not affect insurance rates at all.

Because a seatbelt ticket is considered a minor infraction even in states where it’s a moving violation, such a ticket won’t have a huge impact on your car insurance rates. A seatbelt ticket generally causes no more than a three percent increase in insurance rates. For example, if you currently pay $500 per year for auto insurance, a seatbelt ticket might increase your rates to $515 per year. By comparison, a reckless driving or DUI violation can increase insurance rates by 20 percent or more.

In some states, the driver will be the one receiving the ticket even if a passenger is the one not wearing their seatbelt. Other states will issue tickets to passengers in that situation. If the passenger is the one who receives the ticket, then the passenger would be the one who might get an uptick in insurance rates.

Some insurance companies may be willing to ignore a seatbelt ticket issued to a driver (or passenger) with an otherwise clean record. Check with your agent or insurance company to see if your auto insurance policy includes “minor violation forgiveness,” “first offense forgiveness” or a similar program.

How a seatbelt ticket affects your driving record

A traffic ticket of any kind will stay on your driving record for a certain number of years, depending on which state gave you the ticket. Some states will let minor violations such as seatbelt tickets age off your driving record more quickly than major ones. Check with your state DMV (or the DMV of the state that issued the ticket, if you were out of state at the time) to find out how long the ticket will stay on your record.

Auto insurance companies review your driving record and may use that information to set your insurance premiums and to see if you qualify for a safe driver discount. What’s more, if you get financing to buy a car, the finance company may also review your driving record. A driving record that indicates a risky pattern of behavior may cause the finance company to set a higher interest rate on your auto loan.

For that reason, it’s a good idea to check your driving record every so often and verify that there are no mistakes. If you find a mistake on your driving record—for example, the state failed to remove a violation from your record even though the required number of years has passed—contact your state DMV and find out how to file a dispute.

Coping with a seatbelt ticket

If you’ve received a seatbelt ticket, you have a few different options.

  • You can accept the ticket, pay your fine, and live with it on your driving record.
  • You can accept the ticket and pay it, but also go to traffic school (assuming your state offers this option) to get the ticket off your record immediately.
  • You can dispute the ticket in court.
  • You can hire an attorney to go to court for you.

For most drivers, hiring an attorney to dispute a seatbelt infraction is overkill—you’ll end up spending a ton in legal fees just to cope with a very minor traffic violation. Depending on your circumstances, any of the other three options could be a valid response.

Paying the ticket and leaving it on your driving record is the simplest option. Before you decide to adopt this course of action, check with your insurance carrier to see how much such a ticket will affect your rates. If the insurance company is willing to overlook your seatbelt ticket, it probably isn’t worth doing anything to try to get the ticket off your record.

Traffic school is a relatively quick and easy way to clear your driving record. You can even attend traffic school online from the comfort of your own home. Most online traffic schools charge less than $50 and you can usually get through the entire program in a couple of hours.

Unless you’re sure you have a strong argument to make, disputing a traffic ticket is usually not worth the hassle—especially for something minor like a seatbelt ticket. Traffic courts are generally only open during business hours, so you may have to miss work to attend. Certain states (such as California and Oregon) will let you file a dispute in writing rather than going to court. If that’s an option for you, it may make disputing your traffic ticket more practical.

If your insurance company raises your rates after you receive a seatbelt ticket, you don’t necessarily have to accept the rate increase. Try calling your insurance agent or the insurance company’s customer service department and asking for an exception.

If that doesn’t work, use Insurify to compare your car insurance rates with quotes from other insurance providers. Different car insurance companies treat traffic violations differently, so you’ll likely be able to find one that won’t care about your seatbelt ticket and will give you a better rate.

You know what? Check out Insurify anyway (you should be doing this every six months at least!) to figure out if your rates have changed. You may be surprised at what you find in just two minutes.

Browse, Compare, Discover with Insurify today!

Wendy Connick is the founder and owner of Connick Financial Solutions, a provider of tax and bookkeeping services and a QuickBooks Online Certified ProAdvisor. A long-time freelance writer, she specializes in business and finance articles on subjects including taxes, investing, and retirement.Wendy is an Enrolled Agent (EA), the only federally licensed tax practitioners who specialize in taxation and have unlimited rights to represent taxpayers before the IRS. She is a member of the National Association of Enrolled Agents and a certified volunteer for VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance), an IRS-sponsored program to provide free tax help for low-income individuals and families.