No one likes getting a ticket.
For starters, there's the fear that comes with being pulled over, even if you're the goodiest goody-two-shoes in the shoe store. Then, there's the 15 or 20 minutes that's stolen from your busy life while the officer checks your paperwork and writes the ticket.
If you're lucky enough to get nabbed near home, there's also the embarrassment of your bust being seen by friends and neighbors. And let's not forget the fine, which can be well into the three-figures, depending on why you were stopped.
But long after that's over, after you've forked over all the fees and moved on with your life, there may still be a price to pay: higher insurance premiums.
How will a moving violation affect your rates? That depends entirely on what you've been ticketed for.
The folks at InsuranceQuotes.com recently conducted a study to determine how citations can affect premiums*. They began by determining the base rate for a relatively low-risk driver: a 45-year-old married woman with a clean driving record, a college degree, an excellent credit score, and no lapses in auto coverage. Then, they calculated how much this hypothetical woman's insurance premiums would rise, based on a single moving violation. For purposes of the evaluation, the company averaged results from ZIP codes across the U.S. and from a range of providers.
Not surprisingly, the most damaging offenses were DUI and reckless driving, which caused insurance rates to surge an average of 93 percent and 82 percent, respectively. That's likely because those violations suggest a pattern of behavior that reflects poorly on the driver. According to Mike Barry of the Insurance Information Institute, "Insurers base their rates on experience, so the violations that cause premiums to jump the most are the ones that, over the years, insurers have found are strong indicators that the driver is likely to have an accident in the future."
Most of the other violations netted a much lower -- but still substantial -- insurance rate hike. Here's the full list of infractions, along with the premium increases they brought:
1. DUI — 93 percent.
2. Reckless driving — 82 percent.
3. Speeding 31+ mph over the limit — 30 percent.
4. Speeding 16 to 30 mph over the limit — 28 percent.
5. Careless driving — 27 percent.
6. Speeding 1 to 15 mph over the limit — 21 percent.
7. Failure to stop — 19 percent.
8. Failure to yield to pedestrians — 19 percent.
9. Driving in a carpool lane — 18 percent.
So, if you've been ticketed for one of these violations, what can you do? Here are a few suggestions:
1. Fight it. In many places, it's relatively easy to fight traffic tickets, and oddly enough, moving violations can be simpler than others to dismiss. It's a pain to schlep down to a courthouse in the middle of a workday and endure what can be a very tedious, bureaucratic process, but at the very least, you might get the charge and/or fine reduced.
2. Take driving classes. Some states offer driving classes that undo the damage done by tickets. The classes take time, and they won't erase the violation altogether, but they can minimize the increase on your premium.
3. Bundle your insurance. Bundling insurance is a big deal these days. If you've received a ticket, you might be able to keep your premium moderately level by moving your auto, home, and other insurance to the same company. Heck, even if you don't have a ticket sitting on your desk, bundling is worth looking into.
If you've received a ticket recently and you've found other ways to keep your premiums in check, feel free to share them in the comments below.
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* It bears mentioning that InsuranceQuotes.com is a for-profit company owned by BankRate. Though it's not explicitly stated on the company's website, we have to assume that InsuranceQuotes makes its money through insurance referrals (i.e. fees paid by insurers who want to be matched with customers). As such, the company has an interest in getting consumers to search for new insurance quotes, and studies like this encourage those searches. That's not to say that the results of the study are invalid -- in fact, they appear to be pretty accurate -- it's just good to bear in mind out why InsuranceQuotes.com may have conducted the study.