How to determine if a minor ticket will affect your premium

Written by Penny Gusner on June 20, 2012 & Posted in Auto Insurance

Have you received a traffic ticket for a minor offense and now are worrying how it's going to affect your insurance rates? No need to fret just yet. Not all tickets are equal in the eyes to your auto insurance provider.

Some traffic offenses will affect you rates greatly. Others, not so much. Usually, car insurance companies don't consider minor offenses (such as failure to yield, or speeding) to be as much of a risk as a major offense (such as a DUI, or an accident). So, insurers usually charge less, if at all, for minor transgressions.

If you've received a minor traffic ticket, here are a few questions to take into consideration. The answers will help you quickly learn how the ticket will affect your car insurance rates:

  • Is this a moving violation in my state? Nonmoving violations (such as an equipment offense or a parking ticket) normally aren't looked at by car insurers. Moving violations are of concern to auto insurance companies, but if the offense is minor enough it may not affect you rates.
  • Will it go on my driving record? If the violation doesn't go on your driving history, your car insurance company won't know about and won't rate on it.
  • Do my state's laws allow an auto insurance provider to surcharge for this type of offense? Some states don't allow car insurance providers to raise rates for certain minor offenses. Insurers also may be prohibited from raising rates if this minor violation is all you have on your driving record.
  • Does my insurance company raise rates for a single traffic violation? Do I have other violations on my driving record? Maybe you don't live in a state that keeps an insurer from surcharging you for a first minor offense on your record. Even if that's the case, some insurers will ignore your first ticket if up until now you've had a stellar driving record. However, if you already have other traffic violations, this one is likely to raise your rates due to what your car insurance company may see as a pattern of bad driving.
  • Will I lose a good-driver discount because of this ticket? Your auto insurance provider may not surcharge you for this one ticket. But because you now have a traffic violation on your driving record, you could lose any good-driver or safe-driver discount. Loss of a discount would in turn cause your premium to go up.

If you find that your minor traffic ticket will cause your rates to rise, or make you lose a sizable safe-driver discount, it's time to shop around to see if you can find cheap car insurance with a different insurer.

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