It's happened to most drivers at some point: You're driving along on the highway, not paying any attention, when you see it in your rear-view mirror – flashing red and blue lights. Uh-oh. You've been speeding. In addition to the ticket you're going to get, you now have a whole new problem, will your speeding ticket impact your auto insurance?
The answer? Maybe. A speeding ticket can unquestionably impact the cost of your car insurance, but it's not as simple as "one ticket means a 10% increase in auto insurance." The specifics for how your car insurance rates will be impacted by a speeding ticket depends on a variety of factors, including your insurance company, your plan, your driving record, and any previous traffic violations that you may have.
No. It's not guaranteed. However, it might.
As a rule of thumb, car insurance companies will look at a speeding ticket in the context of your overall record. For example, let's say that you have 30 years with an insurance company, then get a ticket for driving ten miles over the speed limit. Will that affect your auto insurance? It's possible. But this is probably as good a scenario as you could hope for if you are going to get a speeding ticket – you have a spotless driving record, and you were only going ten miles over the speed limit. This scenario makes it less likely that your first speeding ticket will have a negative impact on your car insurance rates.
Now, take the same driver, and say that you add two more speeding tickets over a three-month period. Or, let's say that the same driver has gotten one ticket every three years for similar offenses. Now, you have a problem – you have a pattern of problematic driving, and your driving pattern is viewed to be riskier. Remember, an insurance policy determines how much to charge you based on the risk they think they are assuming in providing you with insurance. Higher risk means that the company needs to charge you more in order to protect itself from financial loss. This means that the company will be more likely to increase your penalties, or remove discounts if you are a riskier driver.
As noted above, many factors may influence the ultimate impact of a speeding ticket on your auto insurance costs and policy. This includes:
Previous driving history: Arguably the most important factor in determining the impact of a speeding ticket is how it fits with your past driving history. A long record of speeding tickets, moving violations, or accidents makes it more likely that a speeding ticket will have a major impact on your license.
Total driving history: If you've been driving for two years and get a ticket, you may have a problem. Conversely, if you've been driving for thirty years, you're less likely to have a problem. This is because auto insurance companies tend to take the totality of a driving record into account when making policy decisions. If you have a long record - and one that is mostly blemish-free - odds are better that you will be okay.
The severity of the speed limit violation: A speeding violation of five miles an hour will be treated much less harshly than a speed limit violation of thirty miles an hour in a school zone. An insurance company will view any speeding ticket in its totality, meaning that it will examine how much over the speed limit you were going and if any other traffic violations or accidents were incurred when you were cited for speeding.
Location: Drivers in different states will see different increases as a result of a speeding ticket. While all states saw an increase, there are high levels of variability about the amount of these increases. These changes can be fairly dramatic, ranging from $10 a month to $92 a month. As such, you should keep in mind that the amount of your increase will vary, depending on where you live.
Other risk factors: A speeding ticket will affect your insurance rates because it is seen as a sign that you are a riskier driver. It follows, then, that other risk factors can further complicate this issue and have you been rated as an even riskier driver. This includes a recent arrest for DUI-related crimes, recently getting your driver's license, or driving certain types of expensive cars.
A speeding ticket is not a guarantee of expensive auto insurance for the rest of your life, and there are many ways to work with your insurance company, law enforcement, or more to have the impact of a speeding ticket mitigated. This includes:
Driving classes: Some states and localities offer remedial driving classes designed to retrain drivers in the appropriate ways to drive. Successful completion of these classes – which will likely involve mandatory attendance and may also involve passing a final test – may wipe the ticket from your record, thus enabling you to renew your auto insurance (or get a new one) without them counting the ticket against you.
Working with the court: Sometimes, you may be able to plea a speeding ticket into another, less serious charge, like careless driving. In these instances, you may still have to pay a fine, but less serious tickets do not come with points, meaning that you can avoid having a speeding ticket on your record.
Deferrals: Depending on your circumstances and location, you may be able to get the court to defer your ticket for a period of time. In these instances, the ticket won't be listed on your driving record, and if you keep your driving clean for the period of time determined by the court, it goes away completely. Think of a deferral as a sort of parole for speeding tickets. However, if you do get another ticket, you're in trouble, as BOTH of these tickets will count against you.
Fight the ticket: Remember, a ticket is a (very minor) criminal charge. By paying the fine, you're pleading guilty. You always have the option of pleading not guilty and turning the ticket into an actual criminal court case. In these instances, you may want to hire a lawyer and prepare as if this was a regular criminal case. This can get expensive, and it is only usually worth it if you are truly facing a major crime or penalty.
There's another wrinkle you should be aware of when shopping for insurance – the difference between a new policy and an existing insurance policy. When you get a new policy, there is almost no question that an insurance company will check your previous driving history in order to determine what sort of rates to charge you. This means that they will see any traffic violations that you may have, as well as any other interactions with the legal system that you may have experienced. As such, it is virtually guaranteed a speeding ticket's impact will be felt when this new company offers you a rate.
However, this may not be the case if you are simply applying to renew your policy. Depending on your specific insurance company, they may not check or recheck your driving record. In that instance, it is possible that you will not have a ticket count against you. Again, however, this is not guaranteed, and you'll have to speak with your insurance company to get a better idea of how frequently they check your driving record.
You should be able to get affordable insurance coverage, even if you have a speeding ticket. If you are unsatisfied with the price offered to you by your current insurance company, you should shop around and see if you can't get better prices elsewhere. Other agencies will often offer better prices, particularly if you enter into a longer-term contract or bundle other insurance coverages with them.
If you are interested in learning more about how to reduce the costs of your auto insurance, connect with PolicyScout today. With our best-in-class customer service and experience in the insurance industry, we can help you find high-quality insurance at the most affordable prices possible.