Everyone makes mistakes when they drive. But sometimes what seems like just a slip-up can lead to costly tickets and violations. Your driving record isn’t the only thing that could take a hit, though. If you get too many violations on your record, you could end up with much more expensive auto insurance. This article will explain how states track violations and how they affect your rates.
States often track violations differently. For example, some states use a point system, in which you receive a certain number of points based on your violation. With these systems, your state government might suspend or even revoke your license if you get too many points on your record. Other states don’t use a points system and just track violations. In this case, they revoke your license if you collect too many violations on your record.
Insurers look at these points and violation records and will increase your rates if they think you’re a high-risk driver. In serious cases, such as a DUI, they may even choose not to renew your policy. The bottom line is that you’ll appear at a high risk to cause an accident if you have frequent run-ins with the police. This will cause you to pay more for insurance.
How Driver’s License Points Work
As was previously mentioned, many states use points systems to keep track of infractions. But it’s important to know that not every state uses the same point system. For instance, Arizona uses a system that goes up to eight points. If you reach eight points within one year, you’ll face a license suspension and might need to attend a traffic school.
Other states may track your total points for up to three years. In Florida’s system, you’ll receive a varying suspension (one month, three months, or a year) depending on how many points you rack up in 12, 18, or 36 months.
These are just a couple of examples of how different states track infraction points. Consider that some states, such as Washington, don’t use points systems. These states usually keep tabs on your record and hand down consequences if they decide that you have too many violations. We recommend checking your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website to see how its points system works or if it has one.
Below is a quick list of what you can expect from most points systems:
- Points typically appear once you get a ticket or commit a violation while driving
- A maximum threshold before a driver’s license suspension
- Some infractions are worth more than others. For example, a DUI might be worth eight points, but speeding is only worth three
- Violations when driving a commercial vehicle could be worth more points
- Often tracked over at least one year and up to three years
- Not every state has the same points system or even uses one at all
How Driver’s License Points Affect Auto Insurance Rates
Beyond getting your license suspended for your violations, you can also expect much higher car insurance rates. Providers don’t like to do business with people who they think might cost them a lot of money. So, your wallet will take a hit if you don’t drive safely.
Your rates could jump up even more depending on the severity of your violation. If you accumulate points for serious violations like DUIs or distracted driving, your insurance company is more than likely to jack up your rates. This is especially true if you end up needing a high-risk insurance policy.
Severe violations don’t only raise your prices. They can also cause your insurer to cancel or not renew your policy. Companies can willfully cancel your coverage if you lose your license, even if you’ve had your policy for 60 days. So, you could likely be without insurance if you do something to put yourself and your provider at risk.
Severe driving offenses may include:
- Driving under the influence or while impaired
- Reckless driving
Keep in mind that you don’t have to alert your insurer of your violations like you would for an accident. They’ll eventually find out about your driver’s license points and violations by looking at your driving record.
Car insurance companies take a lot of factors into account when looking at your driving record. Though getting a ticket is never good, some things might make you look better and could save you money. You might be in good shape if you can say yes to these questions:
- Do you have a clean driving record, usually consisting of little to no tickets?
- Has it been a long time since your last violation?
- Do you usually avoid filing claims and getting in accidents?
- Was your offense minor? If it’s a speeding ticket, were you going just five mph over, or was it more severe (e.g., more than 20 mph over the speed limit)?
While there are no guarantees, and every company will operate in its own way, you can get ahead by always practicing safe driving habits. This will put you in the best position possible to dodge alarming increases to your premium.
Other Effects on Your Car Insurance
Getting lots of violations can have some other effects on your auto insurance aside from just raising your rates. For instance, you might not be able to find coverage with another company if you have a bad record. The Insurance Information Institute (III) says that those with a record full of accidents, violations, and reckless habits such as texting or drinking while driving will have a hard time finding someone to insure them.
If you can’t find coverage due to a troubled driving past, you could still be able to find it through your state’s assigned risk pool. In this case, the state would assign you to a provider in the pool, despite having a negative driving record. You may not get the price you want, as rates are much higher in the risk pool, but you’ll still have insurance.
Do Car Accidents Affect Rates?
While we’re on the topic of rates, you may wonder if accidents or claims can raise your premium. The answer is not consistent for every company, but it can, especially if it happens frequently. According to the III, if you get into an at-fault accident and file a claim that surpasses a certain number indicated in your policy, your “insurer will increase your premium by a certain percentage.”
If you get into a lot of accidents, you’ll have a poor driving record and as is the same with points, you may lose your insurance either by cancellation or non-renewal. Your company could also cut ties if you file a claim for an accident that was the result of a serious offense.
How to Lower Car Insurance Rates with a Bad Driving Record
You may try to lower your rates if they’ve spiked because of a bad driving record. There are a few things you can do if you want to pay less for car insurance with a poor driving history:
- Switch providers. If your current provider raised your rates, you may have some luck with another company. Try comparing quotes to find a better price. If your record isn’t too bad, you might find an insurer with decent prices. If you find a really good deal, then by all means switch to them! A good place to start is our article on the best car insurance for a bad driving record.
- Take a defensive driving course. Depending on your state, you may be able to get discounts on your auto coverage if you take driving safety courses. This shows that you take driving seriously and want to improve your skills, despite your past mistakes.
- Always drive safely. This seems simple, but it’s extremely important in keeping your rates as low as possible. If you avoid getting pulled over and stay out of accidents, you’ll be at less risk of having higher rates.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will my car insurance rates go up if I get a speeding ticket?
It depends. If it’s a minor ticket (five over the speed limit), you could be okay. If it’s severe (20 over the speed limit) or if you get tickets frequently, your rates will almost certainly rise.
How do I see if I have driver’s license points?
You can see how many points you have if you head over to your state’s DMV website. There, you’ll find a link to check your driver’s license status, including things like points/violations, collisions, and suspensions. Make sure to have the following:
- Driver’s license number
- Social security number
Do I need to tell my insurance company about driver’s license points?
No, you don’t have to tell your insurer that you have points. Nor do you have to inform them of traffic tickets or moving violations. They’ll find out on their own when they scan your driving record.
If you’re wondering if there’s a way of hiding points from your insurance provider, we just told you. The answer is no. If you have any driver’s license points, your insurer has access and will find them.
How many points can I get before I lose my license?
This depends on your state’s points system (if it has one). We strongly recommend checking your state’s DMV website to see how its points system works.
How long do driver’s license points stay on my record?
Points can stay on your record for varying times, depending on your state. They often last for an average of 2-3 years, but it’s best to check your state’s DMV website for the exact number.
How do I reduce driver’s license points?
There are a few things you could do to reduce or keep points off your record:
- Complete a defensive driving course
- Do a point reduction program, which is available in states like New York
- Drive safely and wait for the points to come off your record