Even Minor Traffic Violations Can Make Insurance Rates Soar | Edmunds

Even Minor Traffic Violations Can Make Insurance Rates Soar

Just the Facts:
  • Even minor traffic violations can cause significant auto insurance rate increases, according to a new report from InsuranceQuotes.com.
  • The most serious moving violation resulted in an average rate increase of 93 percent, but even minor infractions can cause rates to go up by 18 percent or more.
  • Many states allow drivers to improve their records by taking traffic-safety classes, and some insurers overlook minor violations for those who bundle insurance with them.

SAN FRANCISCO — Even minor traffic violations can cause auto insurance rates to soar, according to a new report from InsuranceQuotes.com.

The Web site, which provides free information to help consumers compare insurance rates, looked at the average nationwide premium increase for one moving violation in seven categories: reckless driving, careless driving, DUI, speeding, failure to stop, failure to yield to a pedestrian and driving in a carpool lane.

Of course, the amount of the increase varied widely, depending on the jurisdiction, the driver's previous record and many other factors. But it's not surprising that, in general, the more serious the offense, the greater the increase.

DUI violations resulted in the highest national average increase, 93 percent, while driving in a carpool lane without the required number of occupants caused the lowest increase, 18 percent.

Other findings: reckless driving caused insurance rates to increase an average of 82 percent; careless driving, 27 percent; speeding, 21-30 percent, depending on how far over the limit; failure to stop, 19 percent; and failure to yield to a pedestrian, 19 percent.

According to InsuranceQuotes.com, Ronda Sloan, a spokesperson for the Kentucky Department of Insurance, said: "Companies may tier violations based on the likelihood that a certain behavior causes, or is the predictor, of an accident."

And reckless driving, which is considered intentionally risky behavior, is a more serious violation than careless driving, an unintentional infraction.

As InsuranceQuotes.com explains: "Reckless driving includes things like drag racing and road rage, while careless driving could include offenses such as switching lanes without signaling, following another car too closely, or driving while texting or talking on a cell phone."

The length of time violations affect insurance rates varies from company to company, but according to Esurance.com a good rule of thumb is three years. The site also notes that once a violation has been cleared from a driver's record, it typically won't affect the insurance rate.

Other than waiting it out, drivers may be able to help improve their records by taking traffic safety classes that are offered by many states, according to InsuranceQuotes.com. After completing a course in Ohio, for example, drivers receive a two-point credit on their records. So, if a speeding ticket added two points, the record could be totally cleared by taking a state-approved driving class.

Another strategy for consumers is to bundle multiple types of insurance with the same company. Some car insurers may forgive minor traffic violations if the driver also has homeowner's insurance with them.

Edmunds says: Consumers should be aware that even minor infractions can have a serious impact on insurance rates.

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