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UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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Car insurance rates are determined by a number of complex factors. Items outside of your control, like your age and gender, play a role in setting your car insurance premiums. The single greatest contributor to insurance costs is a person’s driving record, including a history of accidents or traffic citations.
Once a person’s rates increase due to violations, accidents or other factors, the driver must wait until the infraction has dropped off of their license. This can take several years, and an individual may be stuck paying high premiums during that time. It makes more sense to know what will impact your policy in advance and do everything in your power to avoid that.
You may know that your insurance premiums are affected by traffic violations, but you might not realize that only certain types of tickets will cause your rates to increase. Of course, it’s best to avoid tickets altogether, but if you do slip up and receive a parking ticket, you’re safe: Non-moving violations do not impact the cost of auto insurance.
What is a Non-Moving Violation?
Police spend a lot of time enforcing traffic laws. The purpose of these laws is to keep roadways free of accidents. Roads are meant to be driven on in certain ways, and people who drive outside of these norms cause collisions. For example, failing to stop at a red light or passing in a no-pass zone can cause a collision. Driving past the speed limit can cause an accident or make a collision more deadly.
In order to enforce these laws, police officers will pull over drivers and write them a citation. This ticket must either be contested or paid by the driver. Failure to pay a ticket can result in further penalties, including non-renewal of registration, suspended driver’s licenses and even arrest warrants if the infractions and numerous and severe. Tickets are generally divided into three categories:
— Criminal violations, like driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
— Moving violations, like speeding, running traffic lights or failure to yield
— Non-moving violations, like parking in a handicap space, double-parking, or parking in a metered space without paying for time
In other words, a non-moving violation is a parking ticket. These kinds of tickets do not count against your driving record and your insurance company doesn’t care about them. They can get expensive to repay, and you may have a hard time registering your vehicle if you have outstanding parking tickets, but your insurance will not be affected by parking tickets.
Why Parking Tickets Don’t Count
Insurance companies are concerned about risk. People who have a high risk of being in an accident pay more for insurance than drivers with a low risk. This is because, over the duration of a policy, an insurance company will not need to pay as much in claims for drivers who do not frequently get into accidents.
Traffic violations are a good way to gauge an individual’s driving habits. People who speed, text while driving, run red lights or fail to signal when turning are all more likely to get into an accident than people who obey traffic laws.
Parking tickets do not work the same way. People who park their cars in handicap spaces or fire zones are not more likely to be involved in collisions than those who don’t. Even if their vehicles are damaged while parked, the accident would not be considered their fault: All parked-vehicle accidents are the fault of the person who hits the parked car, even if that vehicle is parked illegally.
Because parking tickets do not cause a driver’s risk to increase, their rates will remain unaffected. Of course, this does not mean that drivers should park anywhere they wish or disregard laws. Parking tickets can get expensive and will prevent a vehicle from being registered, which can lead to further problems down the line if the driver continues operating an unregistered vehicle. Nevertheless, in any direct sense, parking tickets do not affect car insurance premiums.
If you’re faced with a sudden and unexpected rate increase when your policy renews, you should contact your insurance company to ask for an explanation. In most cases, your agent will be able to inform you of why your rates went up and what you can do to mitigate the damage. Keeping track of your driving history and its influence on your premiums will help you keep your rates low and identify the best deals when comparison shopping for a new policy.