Many people rely on their cars for transportation to work, school, and other places. It’s necessary for them to maintain a clean driving record to avoid high insurance premiums. However, very few drivers can confidently say that they’ve never picked up a traffic ticket.
Auto insurance companies usually look at driving records before determining the coverage cost. The types of violations and the number of violations can cause a hefty spike in your insurance rate. We’ll discuss possible ways to minimize auto insurance premiums after a traffic violation.
What constitutes a traffic violation
When drivers violate laws that regulate vehicle operations on the road or highway, it is said to be a traffic violation. Here are some common traffic violations:
- At-fault accident
This violation occurs when a driver takes an action or refuses to take any action and it resulted in an accident. It could be driving under the influence, texting while driving, or ignoring traffic signs. Many car insurance companies consider fault when paying out claims.
When you drive faster than the speed limit, you’re violating a traffic law. A speeding ticket indicates that you have a fine to pay. Speeding can have a high impact on your car insurance rates and it can stay on your record for 4 years.
Drinking under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a very dangerous act that puts your life and the lives of others at risk. This is a very serious violation that can result in license suspension. DUI charges can stay on your record for more than 5 years.
- Hit and run
A hit and run is a traffic violation where a driver hits a person, object, or vehicle and leaves the scene immediately. Anytime you cause a traffic collision or accident, it’s best to stay and face the consequences.
- Running a red light
When you try to beat a yellow light, you could run a red light by mistake. Red light tickets can be quite expensive and your insurance rates could increase drastically. A red light violation can stay on your driving history for 3 – 5 years.
- Illegal U-turn
In most states, an illegal or unsafe U-turn can get you a traffic ticket. When driving, make sure to look out for “No U-turn” signs to avoid getting a traffic ticket. Some traffic laws may permit you to make a U-turn when it is safe to do so.
- Reckless driving
Reckless driving can cause a huge spike in your insurance rates. When a driver refuses to obey traffic signs, laws, and warnings, he is said to be a reckless driver. This is a serious traffic violation that can stay on your record for at least 5 years.
- Suspended license
A suspended license means that you’ve lost the privilege to drive. The suspension period can be definite or indefinite depending on your offense. You can expect your car insurance rates to increase after a license suspension.
How much can insurance rate increase after a traffic violation
Drivers who violate traffic laws or cause car accidents are more likely to file an insurance claim. So most insurers would charge higher rates for their coverage. However, the increase in car insurance rates depends on the types of violations and the state they reside in.
On average, a speeding ticket and running a red light ticket can raise your car insurance costs by 23%. A suspended license, DUI ticket, and hit and run offense can spike rates by 62% to 82%. Some states also have regulations that can also make your violations more expensive.
Why do insurance companies hike rates after a traffic violation
Car insurance companies raise their rates when you violate one or more traffic laws. They believe that risky drivers are more likely to file a claim. Your insurer determines how major traffic violations would affect your rates. They may also forgive minor violations such as parking tickets.
Most auto insurance policies are active for 12 months before they expire. When it’s time to renew or get a new policy, they would check your driving record for any traffic violations. Speeding tickets, hit and run, DUI and reckless driving can increase your premiums substantially.
How can you find affordable car insurance after a violation
Traffic violations can cost a lot. From fines to claims to expensive premiums, there’s so much to settle. If you were involved in an at-fault accident or major traffic violation, here are some ways to reduce your car insurance rates.
- Negotiate with your current insurer.
You should contact your insurance company and talk about your situation. Many insurers listen to the pleas of long-time clients and may proffer a solution. If you’ve maintained a clean driving record before the recent violations, they may be willing to waive or minimize a rate increase.
- Shop around for the lowest rates
If you have a bad driving history, you might have to shop around for cheaper rates. Some insurance companies are best for people with only clean records while others are great for those with violations. USAA, GEICO, Nationwide, and Progressive are some of the cheapest car insurance companies.
- Take a defensive driving course
Attending traffic school or taking a defensive driving course may help reduce your traffic violation points. It also helps you learn the necessary skills to become a safer driver. Your insurer might lower your rate if you’ve taken a defensive driving course.
- Tap into car insurance discounts
Auto insurance companies offer discounts that can help to lower your car insurance premium. You can take advantage of low mileage rates, good credit score, multi-policy discount, good student discount, paid-in-full discount, paperless billing and so much more.
- Raise your deductible
If you’ve tried the suggestions above and your rate isn’t affordable yet, it’s best to raise your deductible to reduce your monthly premium. This would reduce the financial responsibility from your insurance company whenever you file a claim.