The Truth About Tickets and Auto Insurance Rates

You got a ticket. Now what? On top of the cost of the actual ticket, your auto insurance rates could increase. But before you panic, take a deep breath. Not all tickets will impact your rates, and there are steps you can take to decrease the damage.

How Tickets Impact Your Rates

When you get a ticket, the infraction may go on your driving record. How this works exactly depends on the laws in your state, but offenses will typically be associated with a certain number of points. How many points you get, and how long these points stay on your record, depends on the seriousness of the violation. Auto insurance companies can see that you have points on your record and charge you higher rates as a result.

  • Some violations are more serious than others. For example, in New York, going one to 10 miles per hour over the posted limit is worth three points, while going more than 40 miles per hour over the posted limit is worth 11 points. Failing to stop for a school bus is worth five points. Point systems vary from state to state, so check with your state’s DMV for details.  
  • The more tickets you get, the more points you get. A bunch of relatively minor infractions can add up quickly.

If you have points on your driving record, your insurance rates may increase as a result. Additionally, if you have a lot of points, or if you’ve committed a serious violation, your insurer may decide not to renew your coverage.

Some Tickets Won’t Impact Your Rates

Not all tickets result in higher insurance rates.

  • Parking tickets typically don’t result in points on your driving record or higher insurance rates. However, state laws vary, and unpaid parking tickets may result in additional consequences. Check your state laws for details.
  • Tickets issued by cameras may not impact your rates. Some states use red light cameras and speeding cameras to issue tickets. Although state laws vary, these tickets are often treated differently than tickets issued by police officers. They may not go on your driving record or impact your insurance rates. For example, in New York City, red light camera tickets are issued to the owner of the car regardless of who was driving but no points are assessed. Check your local laws for details.

What to Do if You Get a Ticket

If you’ve gotten a ticket, the following actions can help you keep your insurance rates under control.

  • Consider fighting it. If you think the ticket was unfair, you may be able to have it dismissed or reduced in court.
  • Go to traffic school. In some cases, agreeing to take a driving course can help you keep your record clean and avoid insurance rate increases.              
  • Expect a rate increase – but maybe not immediately. If you have points on your record, you may see a rate increase when your insurance policy is up for renewal. 
  • Shop around. If your car insurance premium becomes too expensive, you may be able to find better rates with another insurance company.
  • Avoid more tickets. Eventually, the points on your driving record will disappear. Avoid getting more tickets in the meantime.

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