Ticket Effects on Car Insurance Rates

Getting a ticket is usually a stressful situation, but being pulled over and talking to the officer is just the beginning of how a speeding ticket will affect you. First and foremost, the ticket will have an impact on your wallet. In most, if not all states you will be fined upwards of $100 for even the smallest traffic violation. The amount has to be paid in full by a certain date, or you will get another hefty fine or even lose your driving privileges for a certain period of time.

Then comes the longer-term impact – a ticket will affect your insurance premium. This article will discuss how each type of ticket will add up towards an increase in your future premium.

Tickets are divided into three categories: serious, major and minor violations. Whether or not they come with demerit points, any type of ticket will affect your insurance rate. While there is no general rule on how much your premium will increase, you can count on a growth proportional to the seriousness of your violation. Increases depend from one insurer to another, so you may want to check with your company once you have received a ticket.

Serious & Criminal Tickets

Serious traffic violations include, but are not limited to, driving while intoxicated with a BAC of above a certain threshold (usually .08, but may vary from one state to another), drag racing, not obeying police signs or running away from the scene of an accident. Such a ticket will get your insurance premium jump through the roof – but this is likely to be one of your lesser concerns, as most of these offenses fall under the criminal law.

Again, the increase of your premium is up to your company and the way they evaluate the risk. While insurers deal with serious offenders on a case by case basis, premium hikes of 1,000% aren't unheard of.

Major Tickets

Major traffic violations include speeding over 60mph over allowed speed limit (or the threshold imposed by your state), speeding in a school area or construction zone or driving without a valid insurance policy.

Should you get a major ticket, you should contact your insurer before the current policy is due and ask for ways to lower the future premium. Most companies will offer you a better rate if you take a preventive driving course.

Minor tickets

Minor infractions include, but are not limited to failing to signal when taking turns or changing lanes, failing to yield to another vehicle or to a pedestrian, obstructing traffic, unnecessary slow driving (especially when on the wrong lane) or headlight offenses.

Whether or not your premium will go up after a minor traffic incident is up to the insurer. Most companies understand that we are humans and can make mistakes, but repeated offenders will be charged extra. So if you got a ticket for rolling through a stop sign or driving with expired license plates you are generally on the safe side.

Speeding is the only minor ticket that gets you a 'major' premium hike. Speeding is among the top causes for traffic accidents in the US, and insurers take it seriously. A series of 'minor' speeding tickets is guaranteed to get your premium rocket high.

As a side note, a parking ticket will not affect your insurance premium as insurers don't regard it as traffic violation, nor do you pose any risk to them if you park in a restricted area.