Getting a huge fine with the traffic violation is financially straining enough. But your auto insurance can also become suddenly more expensive. Let’s go over how traffic violations can affect your auto insurance and what you can do in the event that this happens to you.
How Long Do Traffic Violations Stay on Your Driving/Insurance Record?
A traffic violation only “counts” as a violation if you actually get a ticket for your actions. This means you don’t need to worry about any traffic stops you might encounter with a police officer if they let you off with a warning.
However, if you are unfortunate enough to receive an official traffic violation, you should know that these violations stay on a driving or insurance record. It’s a lot like your “permanent” record from school. But just because traffic violations get on your insurance record doesn’t mean that every violation is the same or the length of time is the same between providers.
As an example, traffic violations are handled differently by different insurance carriers. Some are friendlier to those with traffic violations than others. For instance, some insurance carriers only consider former traffic violations for up to two years, while others may go back to three years or more. The reverse is also true, with many insurance carriers offering discounts for being a good driver and avoiding traffic violations for years or more.
At the same time, the type of traffic violation that you incurred can affect how long your insurance carrier remembers your violation. Certain types of offenses are worse than others. A good example of this is driving under the influence, which is widely and rightly regarded as the worst possible offense by most providers.
General speeding, on the other hand, doesn’t remain on your record for nearly as long and only raises your rate by up to about 20%. Violations like this may take up to five years for your record to be cleared with your insurance carrier. DUI tickets, however, may require you to wait for up to 10 years or may never fully go away.
Finally, your state of residence also affects how long insurance carriers can legally remember your traffic violations. Again, some states are harsher when it comes to prior violations than others. Nevada is a relatively lax state in which most violations leave your record after a single year.
What Happens To Your Insurance After a Traffic Violation?
Almost every state has its own rules about how traffic violations result in penalties for drivers. In most cases, violations result in “points” that go on your driving records and which tally up over time. If you hit a specific threshold, insurance carriers may consider you a high-risk driver. This raises your premium and deductible amounts and makes it more difficult to get certain types of insurance.
In certain rare cases, if you accrue enough traffic violation points or violate the law in a particularly terrible way, an insurance carrier may not renew your policy, forcing you to go to a different carrier for coverage. Insurance companies typically assign points to their customers just like the DMV. These points are what insurance carriers used to categorize you to a particular class of drivers, which they used to calculate your premium amounts.
In general, violations result in a fine both from the issued ticket and from increased premium and deductible amounts for your plans. As such, traffic violations are something you never want to encounter because of the significant bite they can take out of your wallet.
Traffic Violation Forgiveness
However, traffic violations are typically forgiven after a set rate of time. As mentioned above, the violation forgiveness period can vary dramatically by state and by insurance provider. Most violations come off within three or four years, while others like a DUI will take much longer or may never come off the record at all.
During the “forgiveness period”, your insurance premiums will likely be higher regardless of whatever carrier you have insurance with. However, some carriers offer “accident forgiveness”, which requires that you pay a little extra for the same amount of coverage but protects you against your rate going up if you have a minor traffic violation.
This extra coverage is a good idea if you get into a bad accident and have a temporary spike in your premium amounts, but don't want that rate to go up even higher if you accidentally failed to stop at a STOP sign. Some of these plans are only a few dollars more a month, which can make them particularly attractive choices.
However, the best thing to do if you get a traffic violation is to maintain a clean driving record. Drive safely and carefully and you’ll eventually get a good driver discount that lowers your rates around the same time as your violation rate uptick wears off.
It’s not usually a good idea to go without car insurance. It’s very difficult to buy new car insurance if you get into an accident or receive another traffic violation ticket you don’t have insurance already. This can also be especially financially devastating.
Will You Always Pay Higher Rates After a Ticket?
Not at all. Your insurance premiums will always return to normal except in rare circumstances, like a DUI ticket. In addition, you may be able to talk with your insurance company and see about increasing your insurance deductible. This might lower your monthly premium amount. Furthermore, many companies offer discounts that can lower any out-of-pocket costs you might have for your insurance plan.
Finally, look into insurance companies that specialize in high-risk drivers that may offer special deals if you have a spotty driving record. These companies may also include rate-lowering discounts if you take safe driving courses.
Overall, traffic violations can have a dramatic impact on your auto insurance rates. But violations are rarely the end of the story. If you find yourself with a traffic violation, do your best to lower the new rate and stick to driving safely. Eventually, things will go back to normal.