Every day CarInsurance.com receives questions about driving records and their influence on car insurance. Here are the answers to a few of the most common questions.
Why does the insurance company need to look at my driving record?
Your driving record is one of the rating factors that auto insurance companies review to decide if they will insure you, and if so, to determine your premiums. By seeing your driving record, a car insurance company can see what type of risk you pose.
If you have a clean driving record, it reveals less risk and will likely result in a safe driver discount and lower rates. Having an accident or moving violations (speeding, DUI, etc.) makes you at a higher risk and normally means higher rates or you may be uninsurable by certain carriers.
How often does the insurance company look at my driving record?
Common practice is for a car insurance company to review your driving record when you initially apply for auto insurance and before each renewal period.
When you apply for coverage, your driving record is reviewed to see if you are an appropriate risk for the insurer and to help determine your premium amount.
At renewal time, your driving record is checked to see if you have any violations now listed that would cause your rates to rise, or for policy to be non-renewed. If you have violations on your driving record that have fallen off, your rates should go down when your policy renews.
Insurance companies may also check your driving record when you add or remove drivers, change coverages or add a vehicle.
Will an accident or violation on my driving record raise my rates? For how long?
For accidents, it typically depends on the nature and severity of the accident, as well as fault. A minor accident may be forgiven under state law or by an insurance company, especially if you are not found to be at fault. If instead you are at-fault for a major accident, you could see a big increase in car insurance rates or even a cancellation of coverage, subject to state law.
Violations can affect your rates because they show you are more of a risk. If you have had a clean driving record for years and get one minor speeding ticket, your rates may not go up but your safe driver discount could be taken away. For more major offenses (i.e. DUI), expect your rates to drastically increase since you are now a much higher risk.
Some states put a limit on how long an auto insurance company can surcharge or raise your rates for an accident or traffic violation, while others leave it up to the insurance company to decide. Most car insurers tend to hold accidents and/or violations against you for three to five years, but some will go back as far as seven years.
What is a moving violation? A non-moving violation? What is the difference as it relates to car insurance?
Definitions of moving and non-moving violations vary from state to state. In general, for an offense to be viewed as a moving violation, your car would need to be in motion when the violation occurred, such as speeding or running a stop sign.
Non-moving violations are pretty much everything that’s not related to your behavior on the road: parking tickets, faulty equipment and expired plates.
Insurance companies' guidelines differ, but normally moving violations are a major rating factor while non-moving violations are not. Non-moving violations may not even be on your driving record. Even when they are, tend to not matter much.
Can I get insurance if my license is suspended? Can someone else insure my car if I can't?
You might be able get insurance, depending upon the length of your suspension and the insurance company’s guidelines.
Some car insurance companies allow you to start a policy with a suspended license, but require that you are able to obtain a valid license within a short period of time – typically in 30 to 45 days after the inception of the policy.
If you have a long driver’s license suspension to wait out and thus are unable to get a valid license in required time, it will likely be difficult to obtain or keep insurance.
To have someone else drive your vehicle during the suspension, there are a couple of options. One is for you to insure the vehicle, list another driver as the primary driver, and exclude yourself from the policy (meaning you cannot drive the car).
The other option is find an insurer that will allow a driver who doesn’t own your car (doesn’t have insurable interest in it) to put insurance on it. With this policy, you will need to be listed as the owner who gives the person permission to insure your car.