Gianetta Palmer is a writer for, copywriter, and essayist. Her work has appeared in, Healthline, and The Dyrt Magazine. She is the author of Scrunchie-Fried and writes a lot about car insurance in her spare time.

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Melanie Musson is the fourth generation in her family to work in the insurance industry. She grew up with insurance talk as part of her everyday conversation and has studied to gain an in-depth knowledge of state-specific car insurance laws and dynamics as well as a broad understanding of how insurance fits into every person’s life, from budgets to coverage levels. She also specializes in automa...

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Reviewed by Melanie Musson
Published Insurance Expert

UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020

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Car insurance rates are calculated based on how likely a driver is to be involved in a motor vehicle collision. Insurance companies like to attract customers who will never need to file claims; in order to do this, they offer the lowest rates to people who have safe driving habits and histories clean of accidents and violations. They also raise the rates of people who are at high risk of being involved in an accident, especially if that accident is the driver’s fault.

Being involved in an accident isn’t the only way that your rates can increase. If you display other risky driving behaviors, your insurance company will raise your premiums and may even cancel your policy if you are deemed too high of a risk for them to insure. For example, if you are charged with a DUI or have your license suspended, your insurance may refuse to renew your policy.

Driving while intoxicated is not the only risky behavior that can lead to a rate increase. Any type of traffic violation that relates to unsafe driving practices will cause your rates to go up:

  • Texting while driving/distracted driving
  • Following too closely
  • Failure to yield the right of way
  • Failure to stop at a stop sign/stop light
  • Speeding

Why do speeding tickets cause rate increases?

Most people will obtain a speeding ticket at some point in their lives. Some people are more prone to speeding than others. To some extent, speeding is even culturally accepted or expected; many people think that it’s acceptable to go five to 10 miles over the speed limit.

The truth is, speed limits are a safety precaution. Certain roads cannot be navigated safely at high speeds due to their levels of congestion or the way the road itself is built. Driving too quickly can cause you to lose control of your vehicle, leading to accidents as you run off the road or even roll your car.

Speeding also makes you a danger to other vehicles. If you drive too quickly, you will not be able to stop in time to prevent a collision. You also will not be able to maintain a safe distance between yourself and other vehicles in case they stop suddenly, or if there is debris on the road.

High-speed collisions also cause the worst damage and injuries. Insurance companies do not want to risk paying several thousand dollars on claims caused by speeding drivers. Therefore, they take speeding tickets seriously.

If I get a speeding ticket, will my car insurance go up immediately?

A single speeding ticket will not make or break your insurance premiums. Instead, your insurance company is more likely to look at your overall driving habits before making a decision. If you receive multiple speeding tickets in a short period of time, that will be viewed more seriously than a single ticket. If you receive a speeding ticket in conjunction with several other types of traffic citation, that will also be viewed more seriously. Additionally, if you are involved in an accident due to speeding, that accident may count against you more than if you had been doing the speed limit.

There is no way of knowing in advance exactly how much your insurance rates will be affected by any single event. Insurance rates are calculated largely by computers, and the algorithms involved are complex and rely on multiple factors. Nevertheless, the best way to maintain a low premium is by driving safely.

If your auto insurance rates have gone up due to an accident or traffic violations, you can counteract those rates in the short term by raising your deductible or lowering the coverage on your vehicle. Long term, if you focus on safe driving and maintain a clean driving record for several years, your rates will begin to decrease. Drivers who maintain safe driving practices will be rewarded with low insurance premiums; even if you have had poor driving in the past, you can work past those concerns and begin to enjoy lower rates if you avoid any further charges. You can ask your insurance agent if there are any discounts you qualify for or any other way to reduce the cost of your insurance today.