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How traffic violations affect my auto insurance rates

Fact-checked with HomeInsurance.com

Article Highlights

Testing the rules of the road is not only a dangerous risk but an expensive gamble at that. Ticket costs, fines or penalties and fees rapidly add up, resulting in a traffic ticket that costs anywhere between $35 to more than $200.

The costs associated with driving violations continue from there into other areas of your life. According to a Nationwide Insurance study, traffic violations can raise your insurance rates by up to 50%. A driver with one traffic violation will pay, on average, 18% more than a driver with the same policy who does not have that violation on their record. If you have two tickets, your premiums increase up to 34% on average, and with three or more offenses, your premiums may double.

To save money on your insurance and safeguard your auto insurance, you should avoid these common traffic violations.

50%

Traffic violations can raise your insurance rates by up to

10 traffic violations that affect your insurance

Speeding

Speeding is a fairly common event on American roadways, claiming more than one-third of all traffic deaths each year. Studies from the Governors Highway Safety Association indicate the issue is only getting worse. 

Speeding can raise your insurance rate significantly, depending on frequency and the amount you are over the speed limit. 

Reckless Driving

After a DUI or DWI, reckless driving has the worst impact on your auto insurance rate. This is more serious than just a traffic ticket, serving as a major moving violation. It is an issue that especially impacts regular commuters, with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reporting that reckless driving is to blame for more than $40 billion in damages and thousands of deaths each year.

Some places like Washington D.C. are less forgiving and can actually revoke your license. This will definitely place you in a higher risk pool when it comes to calculating your life insurance coverage.

Running a Red Light

It may seem harmless, but running a red light is the very reason that more than 800 people die every year. To combat this dangerous trend, cities across the country are becoming more proactive, installing cameras at intersections to catch offenders and issue tickets.

It could affect your insurance too, depending on the number of occurrences and how many citations you receive. How much your insurance increases depends on your state and how severely it treats this kind of violation. Some states, like Florida and California, may deduct points from your license, while others may stick to ticketing. Regardless, if you run a red light and get caught, it could affect your auto insurance premium. Check your state’s laws to see if insurance companies are allowed to factor red light violations into your policy. 

Failure to Yield/Stop

The rolling stop is one of the fastest and easiest ways to get yourself a ticket, but failure to yield is also a serious infraction. While we commonly think that this means failure to stop for a red light, there are other ways this can apply, too. You can be ticketed if you fail to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, or you don’t stop for children getting on and off their school buses.

These penalties can result in premium increases in addition to the cost of a hefty ticket. While not one of the most severe penalties, failure to stop or yield still carries a heavy penalty and only gets worse with each repeated infraction.

Improper Passing

Improper passing is a common citation when there is an accident, but you can still be ticketed without being involved in an incident. This includes changing lanes without a turn signal or passing another vehicle without ensuring there is a safe amount of space between you.

Improper passing is considered a minor traffic violation in many states, with tickets sometimes overturned in court. However, this can definitely affect your insurance premiums, adding almost $300 to your policy in some cases. 

Illegal U-Turn

We see it happen all of the time on the road, but if you get caught making an illegal u-turn, it can have significant consequences on both your license and your insurance. You could receive up to three points on your driving record for a single violation, and many insurers may require a driver improvement course in order to shed yourself from those extra points. 

The penalties for an illegal u-turn are the same as those for the failure to yield or stop. It can cost you up to several hundred dollars in a premium increase. More importantly, points on your driving record have a lasting effect not outweighed by a minor savings in drive time.

Wrong Way

Abiding by the right-of-way on the road is one of the most basic driving principles, and it carries a considerable risk of injury when not followed correctly. The penalties vary from state to state and can include everything from points on your record to costly fines.

Driving the wrong way down a street can endanger your life and the life of every other driver on the road. It is especially common at night, which is why safe driving practices have you drive in the lane farthest away from oncoming traffic.

Fleeing from Police

When you see those flashing red and blue lights, the worst thing you can do is to flee. Any previous offense will pale in comparison, and you can quickly escalate a minor traffic stop into a full-blown police chase with serious consequences.

It is considered a criminal offense that can result in sky-high fees, revocation of your license and even jail time. The effect on your insurance is the last thing you will be worried about when you flee the police. 

Failure to Use Child Restraint

All 50 states and the District of Columbia have legislation making it illegal to drive with a child who isn’t adequately restrained in the appropriate safety belts. However, each jurisdiction can vary in its exact requirements, like the minimum age and size of the child. Height and weight requirements especially vary from place to place.

An offense typically results in a ticket and fine, which can reach as high as $500, and penalties become more severe with repeated offenses. You can also receive negative points on your driving record and face additional disciplinary action for child endangerment. 

DUI

Driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while intoxicated (DWI) are some of the very worst offenses you can commit on the road. By driving impaired, you risk the lives of everyone around you and face a higher likelihood of a fatal crash.

Therefore, it’s not a surprise that a DUI or DWI can cost you close to $10,000 if you’re convicted. Your insurance rates can increase up to double, lasting several years. In some cases, drivers lose or are disqualified from car insurance coverage altogether. 

$10,000

…a DUI or DWI can cost you close to

Other factors that influence auto insurance rates after a traffic violation

In addition to your behavior on the road, there are other factors that can impact your auto insurance rates.

Age

While you can’t affect change to your age, it does play a role in your insurance rates. Newer drivers have less experience and therefore are statistically more likely to run into trouble on the road. Insurers prepare for this by charging higher rates for younger drivers

Location 

You may not think that your address impacts your car insurance, but there is a huge difference between car insurance in a quiet suburb versus insurance in the heart of a bustling metropolis. More populated areas have more drivers on the roads, and therefore there is a higher risk of incidents behind the wheel. 

Credit score 

Surprisingly, your credit score can impact your auto insurance quote. Studies show that drivers with bad credit are not only more likely to struggle with their payments, but they are also more likely to file auto claims. While not all auto insurance providers use this factor in the valuation of your rate, it can affect premiums in some cases.

Severity of violation

In all cases of driving violations, increases in insurance rate directly correlate to the severity of violation. There is a major difference between a minor infraction and a felony offense. It will impact not only how much you will pay each month for insurance but also whether you are eligible for insurance at all.

Frequency of violation

The more violations on your record, the more you can expect to pay for your auto insurance. Someone with no incidents will find their rates much cheaper than someone who frequently has run-ins with police.

Violation by state

Each state handles its traffic laws differently, so an offense in one state may not carry the same penalties as it would in another location. With the laws changing so drastically by jurisdiction, a driver in North Carolina may not be penalized the same way that a New York driver with a similar record would be. 

Duration of violation

Insurance companies can usually determine what kind of driver you are by looking at your record. If you have a violation on your record for a long period of time, that can indicate to insurers that you are a higher risk. You may be charged higher rates to compensate.

Impact on insurance

Every time you receive a ticket or receive a traffic violation, your insurance is adjusted to reflect these changes. While safe drivers can benefit from lower car insurance rates, a poor driving record will result in higher insurance rates and potentially disqualify you from coverage entirely.

The takeaway

  • Traffic violations can increase your insurance rates by more than 37% in some cases.
  • Reckless driving, DUIs and DWIs have the worst impact on your car insurance rates.
  • Even lesser violations like failure to yield or making an illegal u-turn can increase your insurance rates.
  • Other factors, like your age, location, gender and driving history, can all determine what you pay in car insurance each year.    

Your ability to abide by the rules of the road is directly correlated to your rates for auto insurance. If you have a poor driving record that is spotted with serious violations that endanger the lives of others, then car insurance companies have the right to raise your insurance rates or refuse any coverage at all. 

If you do receive tickets, try to mitigate the damage by enrolling in driver improvement classes or taking a driver safety course. Your auto insurance will appreciate the gesture and may even offer a discount, and it can undo some of the damage that your prior infractions have caused.

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