Careless driving doesn't just cause accidents - it can cause your auto insurance rates to skyrocket.
By Allison Hess
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There are a number of factors that impact your auto insurance premium, but none are more drastic than careless driving violations.
If you are involved in any sort of incident where you were found driving “carelessly” or “recklessly,” you could be charged with major fines and tickets. These violations can impact your driving record, which in turn affects your auto insurance standing and costs.
Careless driving can and will increase the cost of your auto insurance premium. In fact, some motorists have seen a 50% increase after just one violation.
HOW DOES CARELESS DRIVING AFFECT YOUR PREMIUMS, AND WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT IT?
What is careless driving?
Careless driving is any instance where the motorist doesn’t take all of the precautions they need to while driving. For example, the driver is drifting between lanes or fell asleep at the wheel. Although these tend to be accidents, they’re still a major traffic and safety concern.
In some states, careless and reckless driving are separated, while other states consider them under the same statute. Reckless driving tends to include “wanton disregard,” meaning the motorist made active decisions to break driving rules. Examples include driving while intoxicated, “racing” other cars, fleeing from police, or driving on a suspended license. Careless driving typically is a more passive break in traffic violations.
Careless and reckless driving are serious offenses that can land you with major fines and points on your license. Any time your driving record is impacted, your auto insurance will be as well.
How does careless driving affect auto insurance?
The cost of your auto insurance, in general, is dependent upon a number of factors including a number of cars, cost of cars, usage of cars, geographic location, previous claims on car, and driver history.
One of the key factors in determining auto insurance cost is your personal driving record. If you have a clean record, you’re considered “less risky” to your insurance company. If you have a history of driving violations on your record, you’re considered riskier. The riskier you are as a driver, the more you’ll be charged for insurance.
Careless driving violations that impact your auto insurance include:
Failure to yield
Driving without proof of insurance
Passing a school bus
Not all violations will impact your driving record and insurance. Some instances where you would get a ticket but it may not impact your auto premiums include:
Equipment violations (broken light)
License plate violations
How much will my premiums go up?
The exact number depends on other factors, like the age and driving record of the motorist. For example, a young, new driver will likely have a greater increase after a violation than an older driver with 40 years of a clean driving record.
The percentage increase will also depend on the violation and the state. For example, a 30mph+ speeding violation in Hawaii can increase insurance premiums by 100%, while the same in Pennsylvania is only a 14% increase.
Below is a table of info by Quadrant Information Services that discusses the average increase in premiums after a violation (but remember that these are highly variable):
How long does a violation affect my rate?
You’ll see violations appear in a rise in your premiums within 6 months of the incident.
Your insurance company will typically include any violations, accidents, or suspensions in your premium for three years. That means you could have a careless driving incident two years ago and it could still cause an increase in your auto insurance.
Some companies will consider violations even further back, especially for more serious reckless driving offenses like a DUI.
Remember that insurers are looking at how risky you are. The number of violations you have and when they happened all show your “risk” as a driver.
How do you fix it?
So you’ve had an instance with careless driving. Is there any way you can lower your auto rates back down?
First, go to the local Secretary of State to see if there are ways you can reduce the careless or reckless driving charge. Removing the charge from your driving record can help reduce your premiums back down to where they were before the incident.
To help remove the charges, you can also consider seeking legal counsel—especially if you have a more serious offense that causes you to lose your auto insurance altogether. Keep in mind that insurance companies reserve the right to deny you coverage if you have a bad driving record. But that doesn’t mean you want to be left without coverage. You can work with a lawyer to help lower your traffic charges, which can improve your driving record and enhance your chances of obtaining auto insurance.
Second, talk to your insurance company about safe driving discounts. They might offer you a discount on your now-raised insurance if you take a defensive driving course or go through Driver’s Ed. In some states, taking an approved defensive driving course can even help remove points from your license, which can improve your driving record.
Third, consider letting us shop around your insurance. Some insurance providers cater specifically to individuals with a moderate driving record. Never be afraid to get quotes from other insurance carriers.
But don’t give up your current insurance until you have another policy in your hands. A lapse in auto insurance coverage, even for a day, can make your premiums skyrocket even more.
Most importantly, avoid getting more careless driving tickets. Maintaining a clean driving record is the best way to keep your insurance premiums to a minimum.
Careless driving is nothing to mess around with. A single violation can spike your auto insurance premium drastically for years to come.
But you don’t have to fear high premiums. You still need auto insurance to protect your car, family, and assets.
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