Average Car Insurance Rates and the Costs of Tickets

Fact-checked with HomeInsurance.com

Every time you receive any kind of traffic violation, it becomes part of your driving history. To calculate your car insurance rates, your insurance provider reviews your driving record to determine your overall risk of causing an accident. At least once per year, the insurance company checks your record and makes adjustments to your rates based on any new infractions you’ve received since your policy was last renewed.

Do speeding tickets affect insurance? Yes, and so do other driving violations. If you get cited for speeding, reckless driving or any other moving violation, expect your auto insurance premiums to increase. However, the amount your rate will increase can vary. An analysis of nearly 500,000 policy quotes conducted by Insurance.com found that getting a single ticket can raise an average driver’s auto insurance premiums by as much as 22%. For drivers with a first offense for driving under the influence (DUI), their insurance rate could increase by nearly 80%.

Before we get into the details about how much more your insurance might cost after getting pulled over, let’s first look at the details of various traffic violations.

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Ticket vs. citation: is there a difference?

No, there is no difference. While you might hear the piece of paper an officer hands you called a citation or a ticket, it’s the same thing. Basically, a ticket or citation is documentation showing that you’ve received a moving violation and are aware of it.

Just knowing that citation and ticket can be used interchangeably isn’t enough. It’s also helpful to know some of the other words used to talk about the violations an officer might issue you behind the wheel:

  • Warning: If you’re lucky, an officer may choose to issue you a warning rather than a citation/ticket. These are most common for minor violations (like speeding just a few miles over the limit or a broken taillight). The warning won’t go on your driving record so you don’t need to worry about an increase in your insurance rates.
  • Moving violation: These are the most common types of tickets or citations. They occur when your car is moving, for example if you’re speeding or run a red light. You can also be cited with a non-moving violation, or a ticket you get when your car is in park. Non-moving violations are usually fix-it tickets. Moving violations show up on your driving record, meaning they can affect your insurance rates, but non-moving violations don’t.
  • Criminal violation: These are the traffic violations that come with the most serious consequences. Examples of criminal violations include driving without insurance, reckless driving and DUIs. Because they’re the most serious, criminal violations usually result in the biggest increase in insurance premiums.
  • Fines and penalties: Getting a ticket or citation isn’t just a slap on the wrist. You usually need to do something about it afterward. In most cases, this means paying a monetary fine or penalty in the amount dictated by your ticket/citation.

If you get a ticket, make sure you fully understand your next steps. You might be required to appear in court, complete defensive driving school or pay a fine. Stay on top of these to-dos to avoid a bigger headache and expense surrounding your citation.

How does getting a ticket impact my car insurance?

If you got away with a warning or you got cited for a non-moving violation, these things won’t show up on your motor vehicle report (MVR), which is what your insurer checks to see if you’re a risky driver (more on that next).

From there, the more serious your ticket or citation, the more likely it is to affect your insurance. For example, if you just got your first speeding ticket for going only a few miles over the limit, your insurer might not hike your premiums. But you can probably kiss your good driver discount goodbye if you had one. If your traffic violation is more serious — like a DUI or reckless driving — expect a bigger rate hike.

Now, let’s look at how much you can expect your rates to increase after a ticket or citation.

How much will my insurance go up after getting a ticket?

The most common question after these incidents is, “How much does my car insurance go up after a ticket?” The following is a list of how much certain tickets will raise auto premiums, on average, as reported by Insurance.com.

Offense Rate increase
DUI (first offense) 79%
Reckless driving 73%
Highway racing 71%
Speeding 30 mph over the limit 30%
Careless driving 26%
Texting while driving 23%
Speeding 16 to 29 mph over limit 22%
Improper turn 20%
Improper/illegal passing 20%
Following too close/tailgating 20%
Speeding 1 to 15 mph over limit 20%
Failure to yield 20%
Failure to stop 19%
Driving without a license or permit 12%
No car insurance 10%
Seat belt infractions 3%

After an at-fault accident or a serious infraction on a driver’s record (such as a DUI or reckless driving), it’s common for car insurance providers to increase a premium by 20 to 40% of the insurer’s base rate. The base rate is calculated by taking data like the average rate charged in the state before discounts and adjustments, plus the insurance company’s claims-processing fee. Many insurers gather data to inform their base rate from the Insurance Services Office (ISO).

Depending on your insurer, the company may increase your rates more or less than the aforementioned averages. If you suspect your insurer is gouging you, shop around. If you find a good quote from another company, provide it in writing to an agent or representative, and then request they match or beat the quote. If your insurer refuses, it’s probably a good time to switch to a more lenient company that won’t assess your next accident so severely.

If your insurer is offering you a competitive rate based on your driving history, you can further lower your insurance costs by raising the amount of your deductibles for collision, underinsured motorists and comprehensive coverage. The Insurance Information Institute (III) reports that raising your deductibles from $200 to $500 can lower your comprehensive and collision rates by 15-30%. Move up to a $1,000 deductible and you can save as much as 40%.

If you have an older car that’s not worth more than a couple thousand dollars, consider dropping such coverages altogether to save even more money – but maintain your state’s minimum required liability insurance to stay legal on the road.

How long will my insurance rate be higher after a ticket?

Your insurance rates won’t immediately increase after you receive a traffic violation. At least once per year, your insurance provider reviews your driving record and makes adjustments to your monthly premium based on new violations. Only then will your rates increase. In the same way, your rates won’t go back down as soon as a violation falls off your record. You’ll have to wait until your insurer’s next review of your record.

After receiving a traffic violation, expect to pay higher monthly premiums for several years. The timing will vary based on the specific incident, but most companies will increase your rates for three to five years. If you get a traffic violation before your policy renewal date, the penalty period could extend beyond the typical three to five year period.

Simplified: tickets/citations and your insurance

All told, you should
expect to pay more for your auto insurance if you get a moving violation ticket or citation. But there are a few things to know:

  • The more serious your ticket, the more your rates will increase.
  • Your rates won’t go up right away. Instead, your insurer will see the ticket/citation when they check your MVR and will adjust your rate at that point.
  • Your rate increase won’t be permanent. After a few years, your insurer should stop including the citation when they assess your risk as a driver.

Frequently asked questions

How can I lower my insurance rate after getting a ticket?

Even if your auto insurance rates increase after getting a ticket, there are ways you can lower your premium that don’t require you to have a clean driving record. Most insurance companies will give drivers a discount on rates if they take a defensive driving class, increase their deductible, have a good credit score, bundle their policies or have certain safety features installed on their vehicle.

Should I tell my insurance company about a ticket?

No, you’re not required to tell your insurance company after you get a ticket. Your insurance company will find out about any new traffic violations you’ve received when they review your driving record before renewing your policy.

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