To keep the premium rates affordable, you must focus on safe driving
Insurance companies want to provide coverage because they basically think you are worth protecting. For them, there are generally two types of customers: safe-driver (which is the preferred class) and high-risk driver. Each type receives different treatments as the former has the bigger advantages such as discounts and generally cheaper rates. On the other hand, providing coverage for high-risk drivers is quite risky; insurers think that those drivers have tendencies to get involved in accidents. Based on this assumption, high-risk drivers will have to pay more without discounts and other good benefits. You are categorized as either safe or high risk type based on DMV’s data concerning driving records. Traffic offenses such as speeding, reckless driving, or driving while intoxicated are some of most important violations which will adversely affect your premium. Not wearing seat-belt is probably a minor one, which can be dismissed from the record after paying fines, will probably never affect anything. You can actually figure out whether you are in the “safe-driver” or “high-risk” category by using car insurance estimator; this tool provides a simple way to use some of your personal data to determine the cost.
Why Traffic Tickets Increase Your Premium Rate
Traffic laws are written to keep everybody who uses the roads safe. Hundreds of different routes have distinguishing features, for example speed limit, number of lanes, signals, road signs, etc. When obeyed properly by everyone, there is almost no possibility of accidents. Failure to comply with all the rules put everybody to risk of fatal injuries due to road accidents. You are not allowed to keep on going at red lights, speeding at school area, or driving to the wrong direction on certain lanes. Even if those offenses do not end up in accidents, you will be pulled over if you commit any of them. You will receive a fine for those violations. The fine are documented by DMV, attached to your records, and eventually will be checked by your insurers. If any important violation appears on the records, your company can simply transfer you from safe-driver category to the high-risk one, meaning you need to pay higher for the coverage. In worst case, your policies will be cancelled. When your policies are cancelled, it can be very difficult to get full coverage insurance, unless you purchase the policies from new insurers who accept high-risk drivers as customers.
A different traffic ticket affects the rate differently as well; some will only increase the premium slightly, while others can break the bank. Parking fines will not affect premium no matter how many you have collected. The biggest problem they can cause is vehicle registration renewal difficulties, but they will never increase your rate. A DUI (Driving under Influence), however, can be quite a problem. There are some types of citations including minor, major, and criminal. More severe offense means greater consequences. Some of the most common citations that will simply increase are excessive speeding, driving while intoxicated, careless or reckless driving, and driving without insurance. Each of them is considered major violation simply because it increases the likelihood of fatal accidents which end up in heavy injuries.
Note that accidents are not the only variables on driving records. There are many other things that they use to determine rates. It means even if you are never involved and at-fault in accidents, any fine will be enough for insurers to charge you more for the coverage. If you think the increase is too much, you can always find new less expensive insurer as long as you meet the minimum coverage requirement in your state. Some websites provide car insurance calculator services for not cost at all, meaning you can estimate the cost before even asking for the quotes. If you properly enter personal data, kind of car, and driving records, the results of the calculation will be accurate.
How Much Will My Rates Increase?
It is difficult to determine the actual amount of the increase. There are some important factors playing their roles such as the specific laws in your state and contractual agreement. A single auto fine for a minor infraction may not increase the rate at all. Your insurer will also consider your previous driving record. If this is your first offense and you have been good customer so far, you will probably be able to discuss the issue and ask them to ignore it. However, a DUI ticket is very serious and there is very little chance that you can get away with it without paying more for the coverage. Your driver license can be suspended for this offense as well. Also, repeated offense is often a reason that insurer cancels your policy. Some companies will not give coverage to high-risk driver, meaning you need to find new insurer before you can reinstate driver license. There are some big firms providing coverage for high-risk drivers; most even give free auto insurance quotes to potential customers. You can compare the quotes to find one that is suitable for your circumstances before deciding to make a purchase.
Please put in mind that any increase in the premium will only occur during renewal. You will probably not realize the increase months after the offense is committed. Bottom line, the best way to avoid any increase is to drive safely obeying any law and road sign you see while you are driving. If you stay on the safe side, your insurer has almost no reason to ask for more money to provide coverage for you. If you drive safe, any increase should be normal or caused by certain circumstances such as changing address to a more crowded area or bad credit score.
A different firm has different rules. You need to consult insurance agents or call your insurers for the details. Some of them simply cannot afford to provide coverage for high-risk driver, and they will cancel your policy due to any major infraction you commit. Luckily, you can find new insurer easily via Internet; you can access almost any company’s official website to get quick car insurance quote. It eliminates the hassles of making appointments with agents or making phone calls to all companies in your state. This is probably the quickest way to get back insured after policy cancellation.
About Parking Tickets
As previously mentioned, parking fines are highly unlikely to increase estimates. Other violations including Driving while intoxicated and speeding have clear correlations with the likelihood of accidents, but that almost has nothing to do with it. Parking tickets are non-moving violation, meaning the offense is committed while the vehicle is not moving. You will receive this fine if you park in the wrong place, such as fire zone or handicap park area. Furthermore, it does not demonstrate any lack of skill as driver. A parked vehicle is not liable for accident; even when the parked auto is involved in an accident, the fault rest on the moving vehicle that crashes into it. A driver must avoid fixed object of any kind including parked auto. When the vehicle is parked (even in the wrong place), it does not pose risk to insurer and will not affect your rates.
The problem is that being not-at-fault does not always mean that your company will pay for the repair. It certainly depends on the coverage you have. There are various types of coverage including comprehensive, liability, collision, medical payment, etc. A minimum requirement may not cover hit-and-run cases, for example when your parked auto is hit by another driver in a moving vehicle.
Parking tickets cause driver license suspension
While parking fines will not directly affect rates, they can unfortunately cause driver license suspension. It will only occur if you get too many tickets and you fail to pay the fines in time. A fine in a parking lot is considerably cheap, but many of them can be very expensive. Suspended driver license means you are not allowed to drive anymore, or you cannot legally drive your car anywhere. The companies will only want to provide coverage for legal drivers, and suspended license can cause policy cancellation. In such case, you need to re-apply for insurance as soon as your license in reissued. A suspended license due to parking fines is not major violation, so you can apply to new company easily. Some major companies give free quotes to potential customers. Just because you ask for the quotes, it does not mean you must purchase it. You can use it merely for comparison before you finally decide to make a purchase.
Fines from another state
In the past, you could get away with speeding fine issued in another state. You did not even have to pay it because the information concerning such issue would never reach your actual local DMV. Nowadays, information is sent electronically in an instant, and DMVs can access central database to all drivers. The database, popularly known as DLC (Driver License Compact), makes information available and easily accessible by almost all DMVs in the country. Therefore, fines from another state will affect insurance as well. All states are member of DLC except Michigan, Wisconsin, Tennessee, and Georgia. Unless traffic offenses are committed in those states, it is almost impossible to avoid an increase in your premium rates. There is also another database known as National Driver Register which keeps all suspension records and reports them. In case your driver license is suspended, you cannot simply apply for a new one in another state.
There is always a way to reduce the impact of premiums related to fines. Depending on the types of offense, you are obliged to conduct punitive actions. This may include paying the fines or filing SR-22 document as a proof of insurance. All states have certain programs to help you dismiss the tickets from driving records, but they are most likely for minor infractions. You may be able to erase the record by taking driving courses or do some community services. Classes through the internet are also available to delete them from another state without having to go there very often.