Bad Driving Record Car Insurance
Your vehicle insurance policy isn’t independent of your driving history or Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) points. The DMV in your state assess points against your driving record and license for each negative driving-related event you are charged with. For instance, if you don’t stop at a stop sign; if you get into an accident; if you drive past a school bus with flashing “stop” arms, and the police stop you, the DMV will place points on your license. If you accumulate enough in one calendar year, your license may be suspended. If the offense is severe enough, such as a DUI or causing injury or death due to negligence, your license can be revoked.
While your insurance company doesn’t find out about all of this immediately, when it’s time to renew your policy it will run a review of your recent driving record. When it finds violations on your license, including those points, your insurance rate will be increased.
Does Your Driving History Affect Your Car Insurance Costs?
Yes, it does. While recent tickets won’t affect your insurance premiums immediately, unless you’re approaching your renewal period; a more serious incident, such as DUI, may have a more immediate impact.
If you are inattentive, neglect to notice that a traffic light just turned red, and your vehicle strikes a vehicle coming out of an intersection, expect your premiums to rise noticeably. If you leave the scene of an accident, your insurance provider may even drop your policy.
Insurance companies communicate with each state’s DMV to obtain information regarding your vehicle. They do this so they know how much to charge on your insurance premiums. A safer driving record correlates directly to a lower insurance premium. If you haven’t gotten into an accident or had any other moving violation, you may also be eligible for a good driver’s discount. If your driving record is littered with reports of accidents, DUIs, speeding violations, or even leaving the scene of an accident, your insurance company may view you as a higher-risk driver and charge you accordingly.
Insurance companies do take minor violations into account. If you haven’t gotten a speeding ticket before, you may lose your good driver discount while your insurance premium stays the same.
Aside from your driving record, your insurance company looks at previous claims you have filed with them and with past insurers. If it finds an at-fault claim, you’ll see your premium increase, while not-at-fault claims usually won’t come with a premium increase. If it has paid out a large amount (usually more than $1,500), your premium will go up.
What Counts Toward a Bad Driving Record?
Specific types of driving offenses will appear on your driving record. A bad record in one state may not be considered as bad in another state. Broadly, offenses are divided into moving violations, minor violations, serious charges, and accidents.
Minor violations can remain minor as long as you take care of them immediately. Parking where vehicles aren’t allowed isn’t good, but it’s still minor. If you don’t take care of some of these issues right away, they may become more serious.
Moving violations happen when your car is moving. Speeding, running a red light, and passing a stopped school bus with the stop arm out and lights flashing are all moving violations. Your traffic court will take into account the length of time between your last moving violation and the current one. Insurance underwriters view most of these incidents as very serious; it reflects how carefully you drive.
Auto accidents lead to the biggest jumps in your premiums. Factors such as how much the accident cost the insurance company are considered. Generally, accidents and moving violations are viewed negatively.
DUI arrests have the most serious effect on your policy.
What is the Difference Between Insurance Company Points and DMV Points?
Insurance points help underwriters to determine your eligibility for insurance coverage. Not all point systems are the same, but carriers may use a system based on the Insurance Services Office (ISO). As each incident adds points to your policy, expect your premium to increase. A severe infraction, such as a DUI, means you’ll have more points assessed against your record.
If you have insurance points on your record and no new points are assessed, then the old points are less significant. Your insurance provider will be able to view you as a safer driver, which means the older points may be reduced.
Forty-one states maintain a point system that affects your ability to maintain your driver’s license. The remaining nine simply monitor your driving record to see how many violations you have. If you have enough violations, whether they are severe or not, you may find your driver’s license suspended. Two or more severe violations, such as DUI, may result in either suspension or outright revocation of your driver’s license, meaning you won’t be able to legally drive.
The one way that driver’s license points connect to your insurance premium results in an increase of your monthly insurance premiums.
How Long do Tickets and Accidents Typically Stay on Your Record?
It depends on your state’s laws. Most states will keep tickets on your driving record for three to ten years. If your offense was minor, you can expect that ticket to show on your driving record for a shorter time frame than a major offense, such as leaving the scene of an accident.
If you were stopped for driving under the influence, arrested, and convicted; then that offense stays on your record permanently. This means that, each time you try to buy new insurance, your premiums will be adversely affected. These insurance rate increases are some of the highest in the industry.
How you drive and consequences you incur, such as tickets, will affect your insurance premiums directly. Having a history of violations tells providers that you are a bad risk to any company you apply to for coverage.
If you fight a ticket successfully or request expungement (removal from your record), then they will have much less of a negative effect on your record. If you decide to deal with the ticket by paying the fine, it stays on your driving record, possibly for life, depending on the offense. If you ignore the ticket or skip a hearing date, you risk having your license suspended.
How to Find Car Insurance with a Bad Driving Record
More people than you may think have bad driving records. This means that they had to look for vehicle insurance that accepted their driving record. It is possible to find this type of vehicle insurance, though, on the whole, you can expect it to be much more expensive.
If you are convicted of a major violation (DUI, leaving the scene of an accident, etc.) or you have accumulated three or more smaller violations, you may want to start looking for a new insurance plan. While it’s not guaranteed in the second scenario, your carrier may increase your premiums to a rate you’re uncomfortable paying after these infractions.
High-risk insurance companies sell what are known as “non-standard” vehicle policies and you may still have a few options as you search. In order to gain insurance, you may be asked to provide your SR 22 filing. An SR 22 is a state filing that is required from drivers who have found themselves in trouble because of something they did behind the wheel. It is not insurance. It’s a form that your insurance provider fills out and files with the state to show that you do have adequate insurance for your needs. If you get those smaller tickets one after the other, your state may require you to obtain this filing.
What kinds of violations put you into a “bad driver” category? Reckless driving, speeding, racing, DUI, at-fault accidents, and leaving the scene of an accident can all put you there. Your state may place you into an assigned risk pool program. A non-standard insurance company provides insurance to you and others in this pool. You won’t be assigned to a specific insurance company, but will have to do your research. Read on to learn what kinds of things you should consider.
Things to Consider when Looking for a New Insurance Provider
Reputation:Insurance companies look for good customers. As you are looking for a new vehicle insurance company, you should read the reviews of the companies you are considering so that you also can choose the best one for you. Current or former customers often describe their experiences in reviews, which may warn you if you are considering a particular company that it turns out doesn’t provide a worthwhile customer experience.
Customer Service:Many insurance companies have an internet presence. This doesn’t mean they can afford to ignore high-quality customer service. When you call, you should be able to reach the company and speak to an employee. If possible, look for an insurance company that offers a physical office in your community.
Coverage Available:Not everyone needs a policy that everyone else has. You may have more than one family vehicle, with one or more teen drivers in your household. Ask about fleet insurance that covers every driver in your family. Along the same lines, if you are also looking for renter’s insurance, make sure your policy has only what you need. You may consider combining coverage with one company if they provide bundle discounts.
Your Budget:Affordability is everything, right next to the right amount of coverage for yourself or your family. You don’t want to be holding an auto policy that’s too expensive for you to easily pay, even if it provides tons of extra coverage. Look around and talk to different insurance companies or shop around online. You can easily receive quotes from many companies, helping you to make an informed decision on what coverage you can get and still stay within your budget.
Keep from Adding to Your Negative Insurance History
Complete an online point reduction course that allows you to remove points from your driver’s license. This is an online defensive driving course. Once you have completed the course, you’ll be able to request that your state reduce the number of points on your record.
Next, go the old-fashioned route and go to traffic court to contest those tickets that a judge may question. Even if the judge does find you guilty, you may be able to prove that other factors had an impact, such as a faulty speedometer. Take care of tickets for broken taillights. Take a driver safety course or request your violation be removed (expunged) from your record.
And, finally, don’t get any more tickets. Drive the speed limit, put an app on your phone that locks it while you are in motion, and do everything you can to maintain a good driving record from here on out. Even if your premiums are high now, with patience there is every possibility that they will go back down.