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Major or Minor? Types of Violations and Insurance Rates

May 14, 2012

There are multiple levels of traffic violations in Canada, and the severity of the charge can make a big difference in how your insurance rates are affected, as well as the legal impact of the infraction. Minor offences are the least serious and usually carry a fine. Major offences can be much more serious, with heavy fines and even possible jail time as a result. Both types can affect car insurance rates, some more than others.

Minor Offences

These are the most common type of traffic violations, and have the lowest impact both legally and on insurance rates. That’s not to say they can’t do some damage to your bank account; minor infractions are chargeable on your insurance for 3 years from the date that you are convicted NOT from the date that you received the ticket, and some come with a hefty fine as well. Among the most common minor infractions are speeding (unless over a certain amount, and then it becomes major), running red lights or stop signs, failure to obey traffic signs, and tailgating.

Minor offences differ in how they will affect your insurance. Not all will cost you, but it varies from insurance company to insurance company how they will charge and for what. It’s best to contact your insurance professional after you get a ticket to find out what to expect on your premiums. They won’t charge you for the ticket until renewal in most cases, so calling to find out the impact isn’t going to make any difference on how or when they charge you. It can, however, prepare you for the increase.

Some of the offences unlikely to affect insurance rates are parking violations and things like broken taillights, which are not usually considered moving violations and thus not really of concern to the insurance company. A ticket that might make you look like a higher risk to insure is more likely to cost you.

Major Offences

Major offences are those that are considered to be more serious in that they are more likely to result in someone being injured. Among the major offences on the books are speeding in excess of a certain amount (usually 50 km/h but this varies from province to province), speeding in a school zone, and passing a school bus. Driving while uninsured is also often considered a major offence. Failure to have insurance puts you in a position where you may be unable to cover your financial obligations to another party in an at-fault accident.

Insurance companies will look more seriously at this type of violation. It shows that you are a higher risk of a claim, and they will charge you accordingly. Shopping around for insurance after you have been caught driving without insurance will make certain you see higher quotes. Some of the charges that can endanger lives are also taken very seriously.

A major offence stays on your record for the same amount of time as a minor one as far as insurance is concerned, so after three years you will not have to pay for it anymore. The cost of these offences is generally higher though, so you will be paying more for it over those years.

Major offences also have a heavier impact on you legally. You could face larger fines and in some cases heavier penalties, including possible time in jail.

Avoiding Rate Increases

Whether major or minor, most traffic violations will have an impact on your insurance rates. Those amounts can vary, but you can be sure you will be paying extra for insurance for at least three years. The best way to avoid any insurance increases is to drive safely at all times.

Remember that having more than one violation on your record at once is a guaranteed way to see very high insurance rates, so once you get a violation it’s best to learn from the mistake and ensure you don’t make it again. Two minor violations can cost you more than one major violation.

To find out what is considered a major or minor conviction, check out /driving-convictions-list/. The best advice is to avoid finding out by obeying all the rules of the road; in the meantime you will make the roads safer for everyone.

  • Anonymous

    Insurance is the biggest fraud in the country. Yes they are supported by the poor, poor govnmental body who allows them to do as they like as long as they charge extra being the TAx amount.

  • Anthony Chan

    There is no point contacting the insurance company how they will charge you after a minor conviction because they wont be able to exactly tell you how much the insurer will charge you on renewal because of other factors changing, other than you will lose your conviction free discount. One big disadvantage is that you will certainly get a premium increase on renewal if you notify them of the conviction but if you dont, you may get the premium increase one year later or more, because insurance companies do NOT check your conviction record every year on renewal, because they have to pay to check your records, hence, depending on insurance companies, most may only check it once every 2 years. Moreover, if they have just checked the record e.g. 2 months before your renewal, and there is no record, and sent you the renewal, and then you have the minor conviction 1 month prior to the renewal, insurer wont know of it, and they may not also check again the next renewal, then you may even not get any premium increase for 2 years, and by the time they check it, it would be the third year, and you only need to pay 1 year increase, as insurer cannot backdate the increase..!

  • George Ziemer

    Haven’t had an accident or received any traffic violation tickets in 30 years but my insurance rates still go up every year. When you change carriers to get a better rate, which you should’nt have to do, the first year or so the rate is lower but after they sock it to you. Loyalty and a clean record does’nt mean a hill of beans to them. The whole system seems to be corrupt and sucks.

  • S

    ,Dam,d if you do and Damd if you don,t. Any reason to increase insurance rates, ins companies will. They use every opportunity to increase rates no mater what the reason is, small no claim accidents to minor traffic tickets.

  • Anonymous

    well said, coudnt agree with you anymore, ontario is the worst in entire north america

  • Anthony Chan

    I have dealt with people with catastrophic injuries resulting from car accidents for many years – believe it or not, Ontario has the best accident benefits and coverage to assist those with cat. injuries. I can tell you that if those same cat injured people were in any other province, they would not have recovered to the extent that they have to-date…! people may not agree but the inention of insurance is to cover accident that we wont be able to afford by ourselves and not to cover those minor impact or injuries. Think if that cat injured person is you or your family member, and understanding the benefits/coverages in Ontario as compared with other provinces, you would certainly have preferred to be insured in Ontario! Accident happens anywhere and anytime and probably at a time you least expect – so, even if you were insured without a claim for 20 years, it does not mean that a Cat accident wont happen to you tomorrow! The reason why you were upset is bcos you dont have that experience before.
    Yes, insurance companies may be inefficient but one of the main reasons for the high premiums is abuses and we cannot just blame the insurance company alone for that inefficiency – our court system encourages that a lot…..”we can sue the insurance company for you at no cost, we wont charge you, if we dont win” – sounds familiar? plus our court system is basically lopsidedly in favour of the “victim” and the chance of the insurer winning a case in court is slim and the court expenses are high esp. if you lose the case. So, plaintiff lawyers are taking advantages of that to force the insurance companies to pay a settlement instead of going to court – you either pay me $10,000 now and close the case or you go to court and lose and have to pay $50,000 plus more in legal fees. If you were the insurance company, from a purely financially perspective, and knowing that the chance of winning in court is only 10% – what would the insurer do. I know, some people would say, we should fight them so that we wont encourage further abuses – but try and think, if it is not the insurance company, but it is yourself who is paying for all those compensation and legal fees, would you be doing that too? Bear in mind that insurance companies are NOT Non Profit Charitable organizations – they are profit making too and they are also responsible to their shareholders/investors too….!
    I dont work for or in insurance companies but I have a chance of working between the insurers and the injured people (esp. catastrophically injured victims), so I have a good look at both sides.
    Yes, our premiums are high but I think it is unfair just to blame the insurance companies alone for that – they also try very hard to fight abuses and reduce benefits in order to lower the premiums too but there are so much oppositions too because someone poison is another person’s meat! There is no perfect system in this world – as this is the Real World and we may just have to live with it…like it or not!

  • Anonymous

    To the previous comment. I’ve also dealt with several catastrophic accident claims in Ontario and can tell you the insurance companies will DO ANYTHING IN THEIR POWER to not pay no matter how obvious the facts are!!!! I think a very great part of the costs of payouts in Ontario is eaten up by lawyers…. not received by claimants. Sure, some people get the help they need and deserve… and yes, some people even receive help and benefits that are fraudulent… but that’s not an excuse to put the screws to folks who properly deserve and desperately need the insurance benefits they’ve paid for and are entitled to.
    Insurance policies are nothing more than another way to make people pay money for something that they probably will never need to the extent that they will pay into. Just another government allowed scam with government protection and government subsidies. They are a mirror image of each other… greed and corruption from stem to stern.

  • Catharine Antle

    I agree with the comment, “Damned if you do, and damned if you don’t!” Ontario is the absolute worst for insurance. Who cares if you’ve been driving for years with a clean record, it doesn’t matter! That is what my own insurance company told me. Your rates will keep going up because of the other drivers around you. This is totally unfair to us drivers who actually know how to drive. Insurance…..the biggest scam!!

  • http://www.insurancehotline.com/ InsuranceHotline.com


    Compare your rate. At least make sure that you’re paying the lowest possible rate.


  • johnrossharvey

    In June of this year my rate went down (for 2 cars) from $325/month to $311. Allstate does not have snow tire discounts but should. My renewal with one minor (stop from 2 years ago) claims I now need to pay $597/month. The infraction was paid off because despite several witnesses to contrary they accept cop’s opinion over mine. That minor should not bump my insurance 2 years later when it went down a few months ago.

  • http://www.insurancehotline.com/ InsuranceHotline.com


    You are correct. It sounds like there might be something else Should inquire with your Allstate agent why the increase is so high.

  • jonathan

    It’s all about the risk factor for insurance. Think about it, if you live in a high risk area with a high probability of you having a claim then why should you be rated the same as someone living in a rural and low risk area. Insurance is designed as protection. We feel ok to pay for a burglar alarm service evert month but not insurance? Just think what is being protected. In the case of an accident you are indemnified to what you were before the accident. And in the case of a bodily injury would you want to pay a physio and massage bill at 1000 a month? Because that’s what I would be paying if I didn’t have it. And I wasn’t at fault.

    Rates change each year mainly based on the guidelines the Ontario government set. For example that letter you recieved on the new reform happening june where your deductibles have to go up upon renewal? Yeah not everything is the insurance company.

    As well when vehicles reach certain ages their safety ratings are not as up to code as to current standards therefor although the car is cheaper to replace but it may not be safer therefore your liability and accident benefits portion of your insurance rise. If your premium increases look to see where the increase is and call your insurance company and ask why.

  • Bryan Fox

    If I have a no insurance fine on my record will that affect my companies insurance?