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Do all tickets affect my rates?


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Question: Does every little ticket affect your car insurance rates or just the big ones?  Like how does a parking ticket compare with reckless driving or a DUI?

Answer:  Reckless driving is way riskier than parking poorly, and your car insurance rates show the difference.  If you get a DUI, your rates can skyrocket 30 to 300 percent because of the risk you now pose to your insurer.

The good news is that not every single type of traffic ticket will affect your rates. 

Each car insurance company has its own rating system, so while some minor tickets may be ignored by some insurers, others will surcharge for that traffic offense. That's why it's smart to shop around if your rates go up following a ticket.

Many insurance companies will overlook a first minor ticket, such as a failure to stop at a stop sign, if you’ve had a clean driving record for at least three years prior.  (See “Tickets that don’t raise your rates”).

If, however, you get a second traffic citation your rates will go up because multiple tickets start to show a pattern of unsafe or bad driving, which equals risky behavior in the eyes of an insurer.

Risk is a big deal to car insurance companies, which is why smaller tickets may be of no consequence to them. A parking ticket, which is typically a non-moving violation, doesn’t really matter to your car insurance carrier because they usually look only at moving violations, since they actually show the insurer if you are a bad or risky driver.

Being cited for reckless driving, or even worse, charged with driving under the influence (a DUI), will affect your rates because they are looked at as major offenses.

You can normally tell if your traffic ticket is going to be considered serious by your auto insurer by if your state has already handed you stiff penalties for the offense.

For instance, if in your state reckless driving is found to be a criminal offense that comes with jail time and the loss of your license, you should know that with this offense on your driving record you will receive an auto insurance surcharge.

What you can do to save money is to be a responsible, safe driver. You won’t get a ticket to pay or an increase in your car insurance rates, and in all likelihood you’ll get even cheaper auto insurance because you may be eligible for a good-driver discount, which varies but can be 10 to 20 percent, or more, off your coverages.

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