People sometimes do irrational things when there’s a police car behind them. They’ll slow down well below the speed limit and overthink every single move they make. There’s a reason for that fear, though.
Getting pulled over is rarely a good experience. If you’ve committed a traffic violation, such as running a stop sign or speeding, you could end up with an expensive traffic ticket.
More importantly, your auto insurance company could raise your monthly premiums, which can cost you even more in the long run.
As such, it’s important to know when a speeding ticket can affect your insurance rates and what you can do if you get caught.
Will one speeding ticket raise my insurance rate?
Every insurance company has its own rules for determining rates. But the type of tickets that will generally impact your insurance right away include:
- DUI or impaired driving.
- Reckless driving (including major speeding violations).
- Failure to stop after an accident.
- Fleeing from the police.
- Driving on a suspended license.
With most insurance carriers, a minor speeding ticket is often waived if you’re going less than 10 miles over the speed limit and it is your first violation. However, if you have multiple violations, then they will normally not waive them.”
Note that speeding tickets aren’t included on that list. And while major speeding violations could result in reckless driving, you’d typically have to drive 25 miles per hour or more over the speed limit to receive that ticket.
Regular speeding tickets, on the other hand, are considered minor traffic violations.
“With most insurance carriers, a minor speeding ticket is often waived if you’re going less than 10 miles over the speed limit and it is your first violation,” says Matt Alala, an agent at ACF Insurance Services.
“However, if you have multiple violations, then they will normally not waive them.”
Other minor violations include:
- Texting while driving (if the state considers it a moving violation).
- Failure to yield.
- Improper passing.
- Following too closely.
- Driving without insurance or proof of insurance.
- Expired drivers license or driving without a license.
- Improper turn.
- Not wearing a seat belt.
Violations that don’t affect your insurance rates
Some tickets won’t affect your insurance rates at all, simply because they’re not related to your driving habits and they don’t pose a risk to your insurance company. These include:
- Texting while driving (if the state doesn’t consider it a moving violation).
- Broken brake or tail light.
- No license plate.
- Noise violations.
- Parking violations.
- No vehicle registration.
How much will a speeding ticket affect insurance rates?
There’s no way to say exactly whether a speeding ticket will raise your insurance rates and by how much. That’s because there are many factors involved, including:
- How many tickets you already have on your driving record.
- How fast you were driving relative to the speed limit.
- Your insurance company.
- Your state’s laws.
There are a few ways to figure out if it will be a smaller or larger increase, though.
For example, driving 15 miles per hour over the speed limit will likely raise your rates more than driving five miles per hour over the limit.
And if you’ve recently gotten a speeding ticket, you’re no longer a first-time offender, which could increase your rates even more.
As a result, it’s important to be mindful of how you drive, especially if you’ve been caught speeding before.
What can I do to stop a speeding ticket from affecting my insurance?
Once you’ve received a speeding ticket, the police department will typically add it to your driving record. In some situations, though, you may be able to prevent that from happening—or at least keep it from being as bad as it really was.
Traffic police officers pull a lot of people over, and they’re more likely to let you off easy if you cooperate and avoid making a fuss. Depending on the situation, the officer could reduce your violation.
For example, say you were driving 15 miles per hour over the limit. If you make the process easier for the officer, they may write you up for driving six to 10 miles per hour over the limit.
Not only would that reduce your fine, but it could also make less of an impact with your insurance company.
Contest the ticket
If you believe you’re innocent or would like a mitigation, you can notify the court that you’d like to contest the ticket. In a mitigation, you could get a reduced fine, and some states may update the charge to a non-moving violation so it won’t go on your driving record.
Go to traffic school
In some states, you could prevent the speeding ticket from getting added to your driving record by going to traffic school. You’ll usually need to pay more to go this route.
But if you successfully complete the training, the police department will typically leave the ticket off your record entirely.
Keep in mind, though, that some speeding tickets may not be eligible for traffic school. For example, speeding in a school or work zone could limit your options.
Request a prayer for judgment
A prayer for judgment, which is granted by a court, can prevent your ticket from getting added to your driving record and even waive the fine.
That said, you’d have to pay court costs, and you can’t use this option every time. “A prayer for judgment can only be done once per three years,” says Alala.
He adds, “If you get more than one prayer for judgment within a three-year period, then many insurance carriers will charge you insurance points for both violations.”
What to do if you can’t prevent a speeding ticket from going on your record
If your speeding ticket ends up on your driving record and you notice that your rates increase because of it, all is not lost. Here are a couple ways you can limit your exposure to higher rates.
Avoid future tickets
Your insurance company will consider your speeding ticket when determining its rates. But it also looks at the rest of your driving record. Focus on safe driving and avoid more speeding tickets, as it can help keep your insurance company from raising your rates too much.
Consider switching to a different insurance company
Every insurance company handles speeding tickets differently. That means some are more heavy-handed than others when it comes to how those tickets affect your rates.
If you get a speeding ticket and notice an increase in your insurance rates, shop around for coverage elsewhere.
You’ll still need to claim the speeding ticket when you’re looking for quotes at other insurers. However, it’s possible that another company won’t penalize you as much.
Check out at least three to five other insurance companies in your area—see how their rates and coverage compare to what you currently have.
Other related questions about speeding tickets and insurance
While we’ve covered how a speeding ticket can affect your insurance rates and what you can do about it, you may have other questions about the process. Here are answers to some of these questions.
How long does a speeding ticket affect my insurance?
Your speeding ticket will only affect your rates as long as it’s on your driving record. In most states, that ticket will be removed from your record within three years.
Wisconsin is the only state that takes longer, keeping violations on record for five years. For major violations, however, Alala says that some insurance companies will look back as far as seven years.
What’s all this talk about points?
Some states have a point system for their residents’ driving records. Each violation is worth a certain number of points. If you reach a set maximum, you could lose your license.
Unfortunately, there’s no uniformity with these point systems. So, a speeding ticket could be worth more points in some states than in others.
Read up on your state’s point system to get a better understanding of how it affects you.
What if I’m a serial speeder?
If you’ve demonstrated a penchant for driving over the speed limit, auto insurance companies may consider you a high-risk driver. This designation could significantly raise your insurance rates and even lead your insurance company to drop you as a customer.
“There are insurance companies who will continue to cover drivers with multiple speeding tickets. However, the premiums can get costly as the insurance points start piling up,” says Alala.
“Throw in an accident or two along with those speeding tickets and then you’re really looking at shelling out some cash.”
The bottom line
Everybody speeds at some point in their life. But if you do it enough, you’ll get caught—and it could cost you in more ways than one.
So, it’s essential to understand how a speeding ticket will affect your auto insurance and what you can do to keep it from getting too expensive.
In most cases, one ticket won’t impact your rates, and doing traffic school could keep it from going on your record in the first place.
But if things get bad, compare your new rate with rates from other insurance companies to see if you can still save.
Ben Luthi is a personal finance writer and a credit cards expert who loves helping consumers and business owners make better financial decisions. His work has been featured in Time, MarketWatch, Yahoo! Finance, U.S. News & World Report, CNBC, Success Magazine, USA Today, The Huffington Post and many more.