What Are the Insurance Consequences of Major and Minor Traffic Tickets?

There are multiple levels of traffic violations in Canada, and the severity of the charge can make a big difference to your auto insurance premium. Minor violations usually carry a fine, while major offences also have legal implications.

How minor traffic offences impact car insurance rates

These are the most common traffic violations, which 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, though.

Minor infractions are “chargeable” on your insurance, which means the insurance provider can apply a surcharge to your premium for three years from the date you are convicted, not from the date you received the ticket. Some come with a hefty fine as well.

Minor traffic infractions include:

  • Speeding (unless over a certain amount, typically 50 km/h, and then it becomes major)
  • Running red lights or stop signs
  • Failure to obey traffic signs
  • Tailgating

Minor offences differ in how they will affect your insurance. It’s best to contact your agent or broker after getting a ticket to find out what to expect on your premium.

In most cases, your premium won’t be impacted until your policy’s renewal date, so calling to find out the impact won’t make any difference on how or when they charge you. But it can prepare you for the increase.

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Some of the offences unlikely to affect your insurance rate are parking violations and things like broken taillights, which are not usually considered moving violations (i.e., offences committed by the driver while the vehicle is in motion) and thus not really of concern to the insurance company.

How major traffic offences impact car insurance rates

Major offences are more serious, often resulting from high-risk driving behaviour that could seriously injure someone.

Major traffic offences include:

  • Speeding in excess of a certain amount (usually 50 km/h, but this varies by province)
  • Speeding in a school zone
  • Passing a school bus
  • Driving while uninsured

Driving without valid insurance puts you in a position where you may not be able to cover your financial obligations to another party in an at-fault collision.

Insurance companies will look more seriously at this type of violation. It shows that you are at a higher risk of filing a claim, and they will charge you accordingly. After you have been caught driving without insurance, shopping around for coverage will make certain you see higher quotes.

A major offence stays on your record for the same amount of time as a minor one, as far as insurance is concerned. 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 can also have legal implications. You could face more significant fines, suspensions, and, in some cases, possible time in jail.

How to avoid auto insurance rate increases

Whether major or minor, most traffic violations will have an impact on your insurance rate. The best way to avoid any increase to your insurance premium is to drive safely.