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UPDATED: May 11, 2020
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You may have heard that “warnings” do not affect your insurance rates, but you may have also heard the exact opposite. There’s a lot of confusion about exactly what a warning ticket is and how it affects your driving record and your car insurance premium costs. So, can a warning affect your car insurance rates?
If you’re worried about a written or verbal warning for speeding, you can get free quotes by entering your zip code into our free tool above.
Written and Verbal Warnings and How They Impact Car Insurance Rates
This is where it begins to get tricky. If your warning is written down, it is very possible that it is logged in somewhere to a computer system, and if it is, it is possible your insurance company will see it at some point. This really depends on how vigilant your insurance company is at sweeping driving records, and how deeply they dig.
Does a warning affect your driving record? Sometimes, warnings are only posted on “local” systems, so they do not appear on DMV records, which is what insurance companies usually look at. However, if warnings are reported to the DMV in your state, then it is likely your insurance company will see your warning and may decide to treat it as a reason to raise your premiums.
Does a warning go on your license? To be honest, this rarely happens. First of all, most DMVs do not have the time or resources to keep up with warnings. Second, fewer warnings are actually being given as police departments crackdown on speeders. However, if you are curious, you can contact your state’s DMV and find out if they keep track of written warnings, and if so, how long they keep them on record.
Distracted driving is just as bad of a problem as speeding. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) notes that:
- 21 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have all banned drivers from hand-held phone use while driving.
- 48 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have banned texting and driving.
- 39 states and D.C. have banned any cell phone use by young or new drivers
- 20 states and D.C. have banned school bus drivers from using cellphones while driving
That’s an easy way to get a warning, but you’re just as likely to get an actual ticket.
Also, if you’re driving a truck, know that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) prohibits texting while driving, and your penalties may be higher than in a personal vehicle. They’ve found that drivers who engage in texting and driving are 23.2 times more likely to be involved in a crash, near-crash, or accidental lane deviation. You could even end up losing your CDL.
Do car insurance rates increase from a warning ticket?
Your driving record is the single biggest factor that companies use to determine your rates. A verbal or written warning is highly unlikely to actually affect your premiums, but you must take care of it in a timely manner unless you want it to become more serious. If you end up getting an actual ticket, you will see it reflected in your premiums, and it can be a heavy cost if it’s for a DUI or accident.
This video from Liberty Mutual talks a little about that.
Your rates will absolutely increase if you get an actual speeding ticket that goes on your record. DUI’s and accidents you’re at fault for have a higher penalty, but speeding tickets will hit you where it hurt — in your wallet.
|Driving Record||Clean record||With 1 speeding violation|
There’s a reason for speeding citations. This data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows how many fatalities related to speeding occurred between 2013 and 2017.
|Year||speeding #||Total #||% speeding out of total fatalities|
For these major insurers, your payments can increase 12 to 24 percent with just one speeding ticket. If you got a warning, don’t feel too bad about it. Your rates are very unlikely to increase, but you have to take care of it. If you don’t — or if you get multiple warnings — you’ll probably end up with a ticket stuck to your record for the next few years.
Car insurance companies will often ignore a warning here or there, as well. They are looking for a true pattern of speeding behavior which would signal you as a high risk. Warnings do not add points to your license, so insurance companies tend to pay little attention to them, except in one circumstance.
If you have two or more speeding tickets and several written warnings, the insurance company may focus on your driving record more closely. This would indicate to them that you are speeding far more often than you are ticketed and that you are headed, eventually, for an accident. In that circumstance, the company might take more interest in your written warnings as an indication of a pattern of behavior.
It is technically possible that your insurance could even be canceled if the company feels you are too much of a risk, although this is a rare occurrence.
The best way to avoid this problem is, of course, not to speed. However, if you do receive a warning, check with your state’s DMV or your local police department to find out if the warning is reported and documented with the state. If not, you probably have little to worry about. If you are required to appear in court for any reason, then you have not received a warning; you have received some type of ticket, which will probably appear on your record.
Traffic Ticket Warnings and What They Mean
Most of the misunderstanding around warnings is because warnings are a little different by state and that changes how they’re reported to state DMVs. Understanding your state’s protocol for warnings, both verbal and written, will help you to understand whether a warning is going to make your insurance payments go up. But does a written warning affect your insurance? Let’s get right into that.
There are many things you may end up getting a ticket for, as FindLaw notes. But, you might get lucky and end up with a warning for the same things. Does getting pulled over affect your insurance?
First of all, a warning is exactly what it says – a warning by a police officer that he or she could give you a ticket but instead chooses to allow you a little leeway.
This warning may come in the form of a verbal reprimand or a written warning. What’s the difference between a verbal warning vs a written warning given by a police officer? It’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Verbal warnings are less severe and are given when they just tell you to be more careful or fix something, and a written warning comes with an actual slip of paper.
What happens when you get a written warning ticket? In no instance should you have to appear in court as the result of a warning; it is simply to tell you to slow down, or the next time the officer will ticket you.
The reason to put it in writing is so that other officers can see that you have already been warned. In very small towns, for example, it is more common to have verbal warnings givens; in larger areas, you may be subject to a written warning so that if you are pulled over again, other officers will know that you have already been warned.
Moving violations and warnings are for things that you do while driving, such as speeding and distracted driving. Non-moving violations and warnings are more for mechanical issues or parking tickets.
This video from WKMG News 6 in Orlando, FL talks a little bit about the difference between moving and non-moving violations.
Whether your warning is for a moving or non-moving violation is also important, as one can really impact your record if you don’t take care of it.
To get quotes from multiple insurers and save money on your car insurance, you can use our free tool below.
Frequently Asked Questions
Hopefully, we’ve answered your question: will a written warning affect your insurance? But there are always a few more floating around. We’ve answered a couple more in the FAQs below.
How long does a warning stay on record?
Generally, a warning doesn’t ever go on your record. But larger cities might keep track of them. For example, how does a written warning go on your driving record in Massachusetts? If you’re out on The Cape, Provincetown’s site notes that three written warnings within one year can result in suspension of your license. In that case, a written warning does affect insurance in MA.
Do you have to pay for a warning ticket?
What happens when you get a warning ticket? You may be worried, but you probably won’t have to pay for it. It’s not even likely to go on your record if you take care of it in a timely manner. So, you can rest assured you’ll only have to worry about adjusting your behaviors or fixing your car going forward to prevent another warning.
Do you have to do anything with a warning ticket?
If it is just a warning ticket, you do not have to take any action. If you’re sure it’s just a warning and not an actual ticket, you won’t have to appear in court or pay anything.
Can cops see if you got a warning?
This absolutely depends on where you live. In many places, they can see written warnings. If they see that you have previously written warnings for the same issue, they’ll likely escalate it to an actual ticket. It’s unlikely they’ll be able to see verbal warnings, though.