How Your Driving Record Impacts Your Auto Insurance Rates

How does your driving record impact your auto insurance rates? The most telling sign of a risky driver is their driving record. Issued and maintained by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), your driving record lists all moving violations and includes any accidents and/or collisions on file with police departments. Anything connected to your license is likely to show up on your driving record. This is one of the main ways auto insurance companies assess your risk as a driver, and therefore has a direct effect on your premiums.

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Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insurance...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers CSR for 4 Years

UPDATED: Apr 13, 2021

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How does my driving record affect my auto insurance rates? Can insurers check my driving record? Where can I get auto coverage for a poor driving record? These are some of the questions that might be running through your mind. Many factors go into determining your auto insurance premiums, but what it all comes down to is one’s liability and risk to an insurer.

The most telling sign of a risky driver is their driving record. Issued and maintained by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), your driving record lists all moving violations and includes any accidents and/or collisions on file with police departments. Anything connected to your license is likely to show up on your driving record.

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Continue reading our guide on auto insurance and driving records below. Inside you will find:

Can your driving record affect your rates?

Auto insurance companies consider many factors to determine how much you pay for coverage, such as your age, gender, credit score, and the car you drive. One of the most influential of these factors is your driving record, which can cause you to have a high-risk profile to insurers. To calculate the premium you pay, the car insurer must evaluate the financial risk of insuring you. Your driver history plays a big role in calculating the probability of you getting into an accident in the future.

When evaluating you, the auto insurance company is going to look at your driving record for the state you’re currently licensed in as well as any previous driving records from other states. It varies from company to company, but typically, they look at your driving record for the last 3–10 years.

Each offense is graded based on the severity of the types of violations on their motor vehicle record. A driver with a few traffic violations is going to pay less than someone with a few speeding tickets. If you’ve gotten in a few accidents, expect your premium to be higher. On the same note, somebody with a DUI or similar offense on their driving record is likely to pay even more than the previous scenarios.

There is no way to know exactly what you’ll pay, but there are a couple of tools and methods you can utilize to get a general idea of your premium. Looking at your violation points is a simple way to estimate your premium. Every state in the US uses the points system. The severity of your violation determines how many points you receive. For each violation, you accrue 0–4 points and sometimes more for serious offenses such as a DUI. Typically, every year, the state removes one point from your record. The more points you have, the more you pay.

The only way to get an accurate estimation of your premium is to apply for free quotes from the insurers. They will likely ask about your driving record, which they are likely to double-check against your driving record before approval. These tools are generally easy to use and don’t take much more than ten minutes. This is the only way to get an estimate of your premium and is by far the most accurate.

If you’re unable to get coverage with standard insurers, you may need to go with specific high-risk car insurance companies. These high-risk insurance companies will insure high-risk drivers but typically have much higher auto insurance costs.

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How can you improve your driving record?

Even if you have a less-than-perfect driving history, you can still find great deals on car insurance (although some driving infractions could make getting auto insurance a costly ordeal). Offenses like a DUI/DWI on your record will be there for at least half a decade and will cause some major insurance companies to label you as a high-risk driver, resulting in additional fees and higher rates.

Some driving violations, however, can be erased from your bad driving history altogether (although this relies heavily on local law and your sentencing should you have to go to court). Some jurisdictions and departments of motor vehicles will let you wipe negative marks off your record in exchange for a fee or taking driver improvement classes, but this depends on your situation and local law. For the most part, time is the only thing that can heal all. Most driving infractions will be wiped off your record eventually.

Have you maintained a good driving record?

Of course, the best defense against high rates caused by risky driving is to drive safely and maintain a clean driving record. Everyone has the opportunity to get low rates on auto insurance by being responsible on the road and knowing where to look for the best auto insurance rates.

You won’t qualify for as many discounts with a bad record, but if you do have a bad record, it’s even more important that you seek as many discounts as possible to make up for the higher rates you’ll be paying for coverage. On the same note, those that have taken driving seriously and kept their driving records clean have a lot to gain from special good driver discounts, including benefits like accident forgiveness.

To find the best possible insurance rates online, get free auto insurance quotes from us. After entering your zip code above (or below) and filling out our brief three-page form, you’ll get quotes for varying levels of coverage from a variety of auto insurers. The rates will vary greatly depending on your driving record and other factors. Get a quote now! Shopping for auto insurance online guarantees you will get the best rates and discounts on your coverage.

What are some additional resources regarding your driving record and auto insurance?

  • DMV.org – How your driving record affects your insurance rates.
  • How Stuff Works – How does your driving record affect your insurance prices?
  • Time Magazine – Bad driver? That’s OK if you’re rich!
  • CBS News – A good driving record doesn’t always equal low insurance rates.

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