UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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A traffic violation isn’t something that everybody wants – overwhelmed by foolhardiness to beat the red light or distracted by a fleeting thought as you make a turn, you could suddenly find yourself stopped by the flashing red-and-blue lights of a police cruiser. As the officer slowly walks towards your vehicle, all you will be thinking about is the despair of yet another spike in your insurance premiums due to this violation.
However, you will be relieved to know that not all traffic violations automatically translate to an increase in your auto insurance premiums. This article will bring you through the traffic violations that do not have an effect on your insurance premiums.
Traffic Violations – Why do they increase your rates?
First, it is good to know why traffic violations even increase auto insurance rates. Every time you sign up for an auto insurance policy, the insurance company will take your recent traffic offenses into account when tabulating the premiums you’ll have to pay for your mix of coverage.
What many don’t understand is why traffic violations are even taken into account when the insurance companies calculate the total payable premium of your insurance policy. Well, look at it this way – a driver with a clean record is proof that he or she drives safely and keeps within the boundaries of the law – such a driver is less likely to be involved in accidents (both minor and major).
A driver whose driver’s license is littered with traffic violations left, right and center, in contrast, are very likely to be involved in accidents, and thus claim thousands of dollars from their insurance companies. A higher premium is thus levied to offset this probability of drivers making frequent claims from insurance companies because of their aggressive, haphazard driving style.
First time speeding tickets
First time speeding tickets usually don’t contribute to an increase in your auto insurance rates – unless you are extremely over the speed limit (e.g. driving at 100mph in a 30mph zone). These first time speeding tickets serve more as warnings to dissuade drivers from committing the same offense again.
Such first-time traffic violations don’t prove that drivers are erratic, irrational, dangerous road hazards – even insurance agents go beyond the speed limit by a little once in a while. As such, when assessing the driver’s risk-taking behavior, such first-time speeding tickets rarely contribute to the classification of a driver as “high-risk”.
Of course, this only holds true if that is the only violation under your name. If there are multiple other violations, you will find that even this minor offense will count against you when you’re purchasing new insurance policies, or when your insurance company is reviewing your existing insurance policies.
While parking tickets are a violation of the law, there is no valid reason for insurance companies to conclude that you are a high-risk driver because of these parking tickets. Illegally parked vehicles rarely cause accidents (obviously) and don’t contribute to increased claims from drivers who frequently commit this offense.
However, if a vehicle was parked illegally on a slope or the brow of a hill obscuring lines of vision for approaching drivers consequently causing an accident this would contribute to higher insurance premiums on your count. Such actions point to a driver’s bad judgment and thus will contribute to the labeling of the driver as a “high-risk” driver.
Cleaning up your records – Defensive driving course
There will be times when Lady Luck deserts you, and you find yourself holding a ticket that heralds the addition of a few points into your records. This will definitely raise your premiums (unless they are very minor violations) – but fear not! There are measures to remove these points from your records, and one of the most popular ones is to take a defensive driving course.
Across many states, the number of points that can be struck off varies, but one thing is for certain – going for a defensive driving course will help you maintain a clean record and prevent your premiums from slowly snaking upwards. You can only do this every 18 months, however, so don’t think that you can break the law and repeatedly take this time-consuming course!
Insurance companies calculate their premiums based on the risk profile of the drivers – the “high-risk” drivers will be slapped with the highest premiums. As such, major traffic violations, which point to dangerous and reckless driving habits, will contribute to higher premiums for the drivers.
That being said, there are still many more minor traffic violations out there that will not result in increases in premiums. These classes of violations include non-moving violations and first-time minor violations (which will not contribute to a driver’s risk profile). However, one thing is for certain – it is best to play it safe and not even get a traffic violation at all!