Ticket tariff

Here’s how much common moving violations will raise a motorist’s insurance premiums, and how to keep rates lower after getting a ticket.

By Jim Gorzelany
CTW Features

A motorist’s driving record is one of the most critical factors auto insurance companies use to determine his or her rates. It only seems fair that the insurance of a careful driver who diligently obeys the rules of the road should cost less than someone who regularly flirts with danger by racking up moving violations. Still, even those with clean driving records could feel the sting in terms of a higher car insurance bill after only a single infraction.

Depending on the violation, an average motorist could see his or her premiums nearly double, according to a recent national analysis conducted by Quadrant Information Services for the website, Insurance- Quotes.com in San Francisco.

Topping the list of premiumboosting infractions is driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, which could cause one’s rates to skyrocket by a whopping 93 percent. The next costly infraction would be reckless driving — a broad category used for a serious violation involving a wanton disregard for the rules of the road — which would be responsible for a still staggering 82 percent increase.

Lesser charges, from getting caught driving solo in a carpool lane to careless driving — piloting a car or truck without due caution in a manner that might cause damage or injury, from failure to yield right-of-way to talking on a cell phone while driving — will raise a drivers rates by an average of 18 to 27 percent. The most benign ticket would be a seatbelt use violation at a mere five percent boost. And these increases assume a hypothetical low-risk driver who otherwise boasts a clean record (see the accompanying box for details). Drivers already having registered multiple violations and/or accidents might see their rates skyrocket beyond affordability or have their policies cancelled depending on the motoring misdeed.

Fortunately motorists with at least moderately good driving records can often avoid negative effects of lesser charges. Some carriers may “forgive” a minor offense for a policyholder in good standing with an otherwise pristine history. Also, many states offer special courses that can essentially keep all but the most serious moving violations from landing on a driver’s record. “Drivers who commit moving violations can take safety classes to improve their skills and remove blemishes from their records,” says Laura Adams, senior analyst at InsuranceQuotes.com. “Many of these courses are offered online and can be completed in just a few hours. Otherwise, these in- fractions can lead to higher car insurance costs for up to three years.” Since some insurance companies are more tolerant of motorists having imperfect driving records than others, those seeing their premiums increase after getting a ticket would be advised to compare rates among multiple carriers to find one who’s willing to offer a better deal. Otherwise, ticketed drivers should be sure they’re taking advantage of all available discounts and consider raising the deductibles on comprehensive and collision insurance (or dropping that coverage altogether if its an older car) to help offset all or part of a rate increase.

Or better yet, obey the rules of the road to avoid receiving a ticket in the first place.

© CTW Features

Traffic tickets that boost insurance rates

1. DUI: 93 percent increase.
2. Reckless driving: 82 percent
3. Careless driving: 27 percent
4. Speeding 1 to 15 mph over
the limit: 21 percent increase.
16 to 30 mph over the limit: 28
percent increase.
31+ mph over the limit:
30 percent increase.
5. Failure to stop: 19 percent
6. Failure to yield to
pedestrians: 19 percent increase.
7. Driving in a carpool lane: 18
percent increase.

Source: Quadrant Information Services for InsuranceQuotes.com, based on rate-increase data supplied by the largest carriers in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Increases are based on a hypothetical driver who’s female, married, employed, has a bachelor’s degree, a clean driving record, good credit rating and drives a 2012 sedan, with coverage limits of $100,000 (bodily injury), $300,000 (property damage), $100,000 (uninsured/ underinsured motorist), $10,000 (personal injury protection) and a $500 deductible.