There are countless myths as to how traffic tickets and accidents can affect your car insurance premiums. Each insurance company charges different rates, so it's important to obtain car insurance quotes - even with tickets and accidents on your driving record.
Read on to learn the truth about the effects of a traffic ticket or accident, and how you can minimize the impact either has on your insurance costs.
Relatively minor tickets, including speeding tickets for 10-15 km/hr over the speed limit or having an expired insurance sticker, may only have a slight effect on your insurance premiums, and in many cases, insurance companies will forgive you for your first one. Two or more tickets, however will typically lead to an increase in your premiums. Of course, the increase becomes greater with each additional offence. For example, a second ticket may result in a 10% increase in your premium, a third one may mean a 15% increase, and a fourth, 25%, etc. Repeat offences demonstrate bad habits and unsafe driving practices - which increases the risk you present to an insurance provider, and earning you exponentially higher premiums.
The severity of the offence also dictates the impact your ticket has on your auto insurance premiums. Major offences, such as speeding more than 50 km/hr over the speed limit or driving without insurance will increase your rates to a higher degree than minor offences. A serious offence, such as a conviction under the Criminal Code of Canada will likely double your insurance premiums or result in complete loss of your coverage.
Repeat offenses don't just raise your premiums. Drivers with three tickets or more may have trouble finding a company willing to provide them with insurance coverage, or may find that their current insurance company cancels or will not renew their policy. If you are unable to find auto insurance, you will be placed with a high risk auto insurer, such as Facility Association. Facility Association is an organization which ensures that everyone has access to auto insurance. Drivers who must find insurance through Facility Association will pay much higher auto insurance premiums.
Traffic tickets stay on your driving record for three years from the date that you are convicted not the date that you receive the ticket. In most cases, your first renewal following a traffic ticket is when you can expect to see an impact on your premiums.
It's no surprise that an accident may increase your vehicle insurance premiums, but some insurance companies will offer an accident forgiveness plan for your first accident. This means that your first at fault accident in a six year period will not affect your insurance rates. This coverage must be purchased prior to the accident. Insurance companies rules for this coverage may differ so check with your insurance professional for the specifics of your company. If you have more than one at fault accident within a six year period it could drive up your premiums substantially. As with tickets, your rates will increase to a greater degree with each additional accident. Accidents stay on your driving record for a full six years – so you can expect to pay increased insurance premiums for an extended period.
It's also worth noting that if someone other than yourself is driving your car at the time of the accident, your rates could be affected just the same as if you were driving the car yourself. Keep this in mind when you choose to lend your vehicle to a friend, family member or colleague, and you'll avoid an unpleasant surprise if they have an accident.
Ultimately, the best defence against high car insurance premiums is to be a safe and careful driver. Taking extra time and care when driving can save you a lot of money and keep you and your loved ones safe and sound. Furthermore, shopping around for car insurance quotes each year before your renewal date is always a good idea. With online quotes readily available, this is the best way to ensure that your rates are in line with other brokers and providers in your area.