If you become the recipient of a traffic citation in your state, watch out! In most cases, you cannot simply pay the ticket fee and go on with your life. New state legislation has allowed newer penalties such as a ‘state conviction fee’. A traffic citation that costs about $100 can eventually cost you up to four times or more of that fee. Sound crazy? Yet, when you choose to delay paying it or avoid paying it altogether, that’s exactly what could happen. It’s not all bad news though. If you can pay the required fee for a traffic school course, the infraction can be kept off of your driving record. The good news is that you can get lower insurance rates when you take the insurance discount course
Although, if you choose to pay a ticket rather than take drivers ed, you will be subject to the long-term costs of increased auto insurance. According to an Insurance.com study of more than 32,000 insurance policies, it was found that drivers who bought a one-car, single-driver policy in 2010 and had only one violation on their record paid about 18% more on average than drivers without any violation. For two violations, drivers typically paid 34% more, and drivers with three violations paid a hefty 53% more for auto insurance. This analysis by Insurance.com also suggests that more serious offenses, like driving while intoxicated, can send your rates upward faster than a single speeding ticket.
So what can you do besides becoming a more cautious and diligent driver? There are certain steps that you can take now to reduce the effect of a rate increase after a traffic violation. First of all, it is always wise to shop around and compare numerous car insurance quotes from different companies in order get lower insurance rates. However, if you see that a rate change is not likely, then changing insurance carriers may not always be the best option. Additionally, staying with your same provider can be advantageous, since some insurance companies offer accident forgiveness policies that will waive accident surcharges. Also, staying put can prevent prospective insurers from pulling your driving record. It is also true that when a driver doesn’t switch insurance providers, he/she may not necessarily get a yearly violation check from their current provider as it is usually too costly for providers to do yearly reviews of each policy holder’s driving records.
So if you decide that the best route for you is not to change your insurance provider, you can then look at your insurance deductible. You can get lower insurance rates and a reduced annual premium by raising your deductible. However, this means that you are taking on more risk and if an accident occurs, you will be paying more out of your pocket for your insurance deductible. Secondly, you have the ability to maintain or improve your credit rating. Many auto insurers look at a low or bad credit rating as a higher risk and they increase rates accordingly. Although there is no solid evidence linking a low credit rating and higher insurance risk, it is likely that bad credit will get you a higher car insurance premium. So, it is important to always maintain or improve your credit score when necessary. Thirdly, if you don’t need extras like towing and car rental, you can lower your car insurance rates by removing them.
Finally, it is always wise to check whether you are eligible to take an insurance discount course if you get a traffic violation. The benefits of taking such a class far outweigh the time and effort that it requires. If you do qualify for it, but you are busy and think that you just want to take care of the ticket and be ‘done with it’, think again. By completing an insurance discount course, you may be eligible (depending on your state) to get marks on your record expunged, often called ticket masking. However, you may only be allowed to take this course to expunge points once in a certain set time period (from 12 to 18 months typically). So, if you get two tickets within your state’s allowed time period, you will probably get increased rates.
It’s important to remember that the cost of each violation varies by state, insurance company and your driving record. If you maintain safe driving, carefully select your insurance provider, and keep your driving record clear, you are off to a great start in preventing traffic violations that can pack those hefty fees.