Have you ever sat in your car with the blue lights of a cop flashing behind you, wondering how a traffic ticket or fender-bender would impact your auto insurance rate? The odds are that at some point, you’ve contemplated bypassing the law, but hesitated because you weren’t sure how a ticket would change your insurance rates. Read on to discover how a traffic ticket or fender-bender will impact your car insurance rate.
Each insurance company calculates its rates differently which means there can be a significant difference between how the company you’re with treats a ticket and how another comparable insurance company does. Anecdotal evidence shows that a motorist in Toronto could see an increase in rate after just one minor traffic ticket with one company while other competing companies wouldn’t raise the rate until the second offense. The rules and policies vary from one insurer to the next, but if you call and ask, you should be able to find out how your insurance company handles such events.
It’s important to note that not-at-fault accidents rarely impact auto insurance rates unless the other driver lacked sufficient insurance and you had to make a collision claim against your policy. In that event, you’d lose your claim-free discount for a minimum amount of time.
Impact of Traffic Tickets on Insurance
Usually, a single ticket will not impact your rates in a significant way. However, if you continue getting tickets for speeding, moving violations, or other non-criminal actions, you’ll likely see your auto insurance rates start to creep up. Many of the largest insurers have programs in place to forgive a ticket or two, but if you start collecting the violations, you will see a rise in insurance.
Classes of Driving Tickets That Impact Your Auto Insurance
Apart from the fact that getting ticketed for a driving offense can be an embarrassing experience, it can also have a negative effect on your budget. Not only will you face the possibility of a fine, but your insurance rate will increase.
Driving tickets are divided into three distinct classes: minor, major, and serious convictions. They can also be referred to as moving violations and non-moving violations. All the different driving ticket classes affect your car insurance rate, whether you receive demerit points or not.
Actions classified as minor traffic violations are as follows: failure to signal, defective brakes, driver’s license violations, failure to wear a seatbelt, failure to carry an insurance card, improper lane changes, tail-gaiting, broken headlights, opening the door in dangerous situations, unstable vehicle load (especially with trucks and roof racks), overloading, obstructing traffic, improper towing, improper passing, improper turns, stop sign infraction, use of radar warning devices, improper railway crossing, trailer passengers, speeding, traffic light infraction, unsafe movements, slowing down unnecessarily, unnecessary noise, obstruction of view, license plate obstruction, and driving without an out-of-date license plate sticker.
Actions that result in a major ticket include failure to report an accident, speeding 60 mph over the posted speed limit (or set limit in your province), all insurance offenses, failure to report the damage to highway property, driving with no insurance, operating a motor vehicle with no insurance, false statement of insurance, failure to comply with school bus signals, improper passing, failure to stop at a red light or stop sign, and speeding in a construction zone.
Serious violations include driving impaired, having a blood alcohol level over 0.08 (or set limit in your province), criminal negligence, driving while under suspension, dangerous driving, careless driving, motor manslaughter, failure to remain at an accident scene, failure to obey police, street racing, stunt or drag racing, and refusal of a breathalyzer.
Driving under the influence (DUI) will increase your insurance rates, nearly doubling your premium. Some insurance companies may give you a “pass” on certain first-time traffic tickets, but a DUI violation will always affect your rates.
Reckless driving is also one offense that will guarantee an increase in your insurance rate. The precise definition of reckless driving varies from province to province. However, the basic definition is that you deliberately ignore the safety of other road users or property. Reckless driving violations can result in serious penalties, including jail time. Careless driving is different from reckless driving; it is a lesser violation compared to reckless driving. Careless driving is unintentionally behaving in a dangerous manner behind the wheel. One of such is changing lanes without signaling. Your insurance rate will increase with a careless driving conviction; although the impact is less severe compared to reckless driving is a conviction.
Careless driving is different from reckless driving; it is a lesser violation compared to reckless driving. Careless driving is unintentionally behaving in a dangerous manner behind the wheel. For example, changing lanes without signaling. Your insurance rate will increase with a careless driving conviction, though the impact is less severe than a reckless driving conviction.
Multiple speeding ticket violations will lead to an increase in your insurance rate, and if speeding persists, your insurance may be canceled.
Demerit Points for Speeding Tickets
* 16 to 29 km over the limit = 3 points
* 30 to 49 km over the limit = 4 Points.
* 50+ km over the limit = 6 Points.
Impact of Accidents on Auto Insurance
An at-fault accident will raise your rates more than a traffic ticket or moving violation. An at-fault accident can raise your rates as much as 27% with the raise effective for at least three years. It’s extremely important to avoid accidents at all costs, for the sake of safety and health, but the added impact on your insurance rates is an extra incentive to abide by the law.
However, if you can’t avoid an accident, you should know that an accident doesn’t always mean automatic insurance increases. Each company uses a different calculator to determine rates and rates are constantly updated. Comparing insurance between providers is the easiest way to make sure you’re getting a great deal on the coverage you need.
Will My Premium Rise after a Fender-Bender?
You know that you should report an accident to your insurance company, but does that include fender benders? A small fender bender could raise your insurance premium, so it’s important to take that into consideration when deciding whether or not to make the call to your insurance company. A small scratch or a minor dent could be less expensive to fix yourself than the resulting premium hike from calling it into your insurance.
If you decide to go ahead and make the call, how much will a small accident raise your rates? That depends on your driving history, which part of Canada you live in, and how much of the accident is deemed your fault. If you live in a high-cost area for insurance, like Ontario, you can expect the fender bender to have a sizable impact on your rates. If you live in a lower-cost area, the damage to your premiums will be minimal.
In general, drivers who have more accidents on their record and live in high-cost areas for insurance can expect to see the biggest jump, with premiums rising 10 percent or more. Drivers in low-cost areas who have fairly clean records might not see a bump at all.
If the fender-bender wasn’t your fault, you shouldn’t see your rates go up at all. However, there have been many drivers who thought an accident wasn’t their fault only to discover that their insurance company thought otherwise.
How to Minimize Damage to Premiums
You can minimize the damage to your insurance premiums by proving the fender-bender was caused by the other driver. Remember, you can always appeal a decision your insurance company makes regarding fault, so take a lot of pictures and always jot down the names and phone numbers of witnesses, if possible.
You can also minimize the impact on your insurance premiums by finding discounts in other places to offset the rising rates. While a good driver discount is out the window once you get into a fender-bender, you may be able to get a good student discount or switch your renter’s insurance to the same company you buy auto insurance from for a multi-policy discount.
For good drivers, a minor fender bender isn’t the end of the world. The amount your premium goes up will depend on your individual profile and risk assessment, so you won’t actually know what the impact will be until you place the call to your insurance company and inform them of what happened. While bypassing the insurance company may seem the least expensive way to go, filing a claim will give you legal protections you wouldn’t otherwise have.