How soon will rates rise after a traffic ticket?

Written by Penny Gusner on January 16, 2013 & Posted in Auto Insurance

It goes without saying that a traffic ticket isn't fun - and neither are the repercussions. After paying the fine, you have to worry what this offense will do to your car insurance rates and how quickly your premiums will be affected. The good news is that your auto insurance company won't find out about your traffic tickets, or raise your rates, right away.

Neither the police nor the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) sends your auto insurer notice of your traffic violation. And you aren't responsible for calling up your car insurance company agent and telling them about it. Instead, your auto insurance provider will find out after the offense has hit your driving record.

If your state's DMV is well-organized, the violation will be placed on your motor vehicle record soon after your conviction. If the DMV is behind, it may be a month or more.

Once the traffic violation shows up on your driving record, it's just a matter of time before your car insurance company will see it. However, if you are in the middle of your policy term, your insurer still won't change your rates just yet.

Most car insurance companies have no reason to pull your driving record mid-policy. State laws typically don't allow for auto insurers to raise your rates mid-policy unless you are making changes, such as adding a car or driver to your policy.

Auto insurers normally request a copy of your driving record when you apply for a policy and then at each renewal period. These are times when the auto insurance company is deciding if it will offer you a policy (or continue your policy) and calculate your premiums. That is when your traffic violation will finally catch up with you.

If it is the first traffic violation on your record, some car insurance providers will only remove any good driver discount that you had. Other companies will raise your rates a tad (it varies by auto insurer, but 10 to 20 percent is normal).

A second ticket or an accident on your record would make you more of a risk to an auto insurance company, so rates would be go even higher. To find out how much your car insurance provider will raise your rates after a ticket or accident, ask for a copy of their surcharge schedule.

Whether you have a clean driving record or one that has a ticket or two on it, the best way to obtain low-cost car insurance is to shop around for the cheapest auto insurance quotes. Each insurance company decides on its own how much to raise rates.

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