How Do Traffic Tickets Affect Insurance?

Quick Answer

The degree to which a moving violation affects your insurance rate may depend on the severity of the offense. The most serious offenses, like driving under the influence, can spike your rates substantially, and potentially lead to a policy cancellation.

An asphalt road with tire tracks crossing the double yellow divider line.

Traffic violations not only cost you in the form of fines but can also trigger higher car insurance premiums. Depending on the violation, your rates could soar 82% higher, according to data from insurance comparison site The Zebra. Even worse, a traffic violation could cause your insurance company to drop your coverage altogether.

So, which violations increase your insurance rates? Does a minor offense like a rolling stop result in higher premiums? Will your auto insurer cancel your coverage if you get a ticket for reckless driving? Here are the traffic tickets that impact your insurance, plus some which may not.

How Much Does Your Insurance Go up After a Traffic Violation?

If your driving record is clean, your rates may not rise if you receive a speeding ticket for driving less than 10 miles per hour over the speed limit. On the other hand, violations could affect your insurance more severely if your record already includes moving violations. Remember, some states allow drivers with their first violation to keep minor infractions off their record by successfully passing traffic school or a driver safety class.

When you get a ticket, your auto insurance company considers several factors to determine if—and by how much—your rate should increase. Factors your insurer may take into account include:

  • Your driving record
  • Whether it's your first ticket
  • How long it's been since your last offense
  • How much faster than the speed limit you were driving
  • Where the violation occurred

Generally, your rates may not increase after your first ticket, but they are likely to rise if you receive two or more tickets within three years. For example, one insurer notes that customers' premiums increased upwards of 10% for a six-month policy after receiving their first speeding ticket in three years. Other insurers report that minor violations may raise premiums by a few cents for every dollar—so if you paid $100 per month prior to a ticket, you may pay around $10 more per month afterward.

What Tickets Affect Insurance?

As you might expect, serious violations impact your insurance rates the most. According to The Zebra's analysis of 61 million rates across the United States, hit-and-run violations and refusal to take a breathalyzer test result in car insurance rate increases of 82.2% ($1,209) and 74.1% ($1,089), respectively. Given the serious nature of these violations, insurers may even cancel a policyholder's coverage when it's up for renewal.

On the other end of the spectrum, not wearing a seatbelt and driving without headlights lead to average rate hikes of 4.0% ($59) and 3.4% ($51). Here's how much you might expect your premiums to increase following various traffic violations:

Top 15 Insurance Rate Increases by Traffic Violation
Violation Percentage Increase Dollar Increase
Hit and run 82.20% $1,209
Refusal of breathalyzer/chemical test 74.10% $1,089
DUI 73.90% $1,086
Racing 73.70% $1,084
Reckless driving 70.40% $1,034
Driving with a suspended license 62.40% $918
At-fault accident 42% $617
Driving with an open container 34.90% $513
Operating a vehicle without permission 32.80% $482
Passing a school bus 27% $398
Improper passing 23.40% $344
Following too closely 23.30% $342
Speeding 23.20% $341
Failure to stop at a red light 22.70% $333
Illegal turn 22.60% $332

Source: The Zebra

What Tickets Don't Affect Insurance?

As a general rule, non-moving violations don't affect your auto insurance rates because they have little to do with your driving ability. Non-moving violations are tickets for infractions when your car is stationary, such as parking tickets, windows that are too heavily tinted and "fix-it" tickets like broken tail lights or missing license plates.

Non-moving violations may affect your insurance if you fail to address them. For example, failing to pay several parking tickets or address a fix-it ticket could lead to a rate increase. However, insurance companies treat violations differently. While one insurer won't raise your rate due to several non-moving violations, another may consider it a sign of risky behavior and adjust your car insurance costs accordingly.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • While non-moving violations are unlikely to affect your insurance rates, moving violations can impact your premiums. The degree to which your rates may be impacted depends on the severity of the infraction, your driving record and other factors.

    Typically, a moving violation could lead to a premium increase for three years after you're ticketed. Of course, more severe violations could hike your rate for longer. For example, a DUI offense in California could result in more expensive premiums for 10 years.

  • A speeding violation typically stays on your driving record for three to five years. In certain states it can remain on your record permanently. No matter what state you reside in, a single speeding ticket should only affect your insurance rates for three to five years.

    The period in which a ticket stays on your driving record depends on your state and how fast over the speed limit you were driving. Many states add points to your driving record depending on the details of your infraction. In Nevada, for example, speeding violations range from one to five points on your driving record, depending on your speed. The demerit points remain on your record for one year, but the speeding ticket stays on your permanent record. Keep in mind, many insurers consider drivers with higher points as high-risk and may set their rates accordingly.

  • Traffic camera tickets typically won't affect your insurance rates in most states, but you will have to pay a fine to settle the matter. Typically, your car insurance premiums will only rise if the ticket appears on your driving record or your state issues demerit points on your driver's license for the ticket, which only occurs in Arizona, California and Oregon. Unless you live in these states, your auto insurance shouldn't increase if you receive a traffic camera ticket.

Your Credit May Impact Your Insurance Rates

In many states, you can prevent certain violations from appearing on your driving record by successfully attending a driving safety course. Typically, you'll need to pay a traffic school fee on top of your court fees, but it could be worth the investment to prevent higher insurance rates in the long run.

It's also smart to maintain strong credit, especially since many states allow insurers to consider credit-based insurance scores when calculating your premium. Check your credit report and score for free with Experian to see where you stand. If necessary, address any issues you discover and take steps to improve your credit. The extra effort is worthwhile if it results in lower auto insurance costs.

If you're shopping for new auto insurance, try Experian's auto insurance comparison tool. You'll be able to view different insurers' offerings side by side to find the right fit for you.