Will a ticket for talking on the phone increase my car insurance rates?
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UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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Unless you have an exceptionally forgiving car insurance company, a ticket for talking on the phone while driving will result in an increase in your auto insurance rates. Whether or not we think it’s fair, it is reality. The law takes talking on the phone while driving very seriously because it leads to an untold numbers of injuries and deaths.
According to a January 2010 report published in the Christian Science Monitor, the National Safety Council estimates approximately 1.6 million car crashes were caused by people using their cell phones with 1.4 million of those crashes involving talking, while another 200,000 involve texting while driving. With numbers as high as these, it becomes obvious why car insurance companies and the law take such a serious stand against cell phone use while driving.
Why are there so many car accidents involving cell phones?
Science has proven that when we have a face-to-face conversation, we are relying as much on facial expressions and gestures as we are on the words spoken to fully understand the conversation. The fact is, our eyes make up for many things our ears miss. This is why having a good phone conversation requires so much more effort. Without being able to see the other person, we must specifically concentrate on they are saying and the intonation of their voice.
With this knowledge, it should be obvious that talking on a cell phone distracts us from driving because we must concentrate so hard on what’s being said by the person on the another end. Add in the fact that poor reception causes conversations to go in and out, and paying attention becomes that much harder. Finally, the temptation to take our eyes off the road in order to dial a number, pick up the phone, or hang up, makes using cell phone while driving distracting enough to make it extremely dangerous.
Will my auto insurance rates go up even if it’s a first offense?
As stated at the start of this article, it is possible to avoid an insurance rate increase for a cell phone ticket if you have an extremely generous insurance company and it’s your first offense. However, don’t count on it.
The fact remains that most of the accidents caused from using a cell phone occur at high enough speeds to cause serious injuries and deaths. Such accidents are obviously the most expensive for car insurance companies to cover as well. If you insist on using your cell phone while driving, don’t expect compassion from your car insurance company.
You probably shouldn’t expect any compassion from the police or the courts either. In some states, like New York for example, previously enacted cell phone laws were only minimally effective in preventing cell phone related accidents.
Legislation in some states has been changed to make cell phone use while driving a primary offense, rather than a secondary offense, in order to give laws more teeth. By making it a primary offense states are now allowing police officers to pull over cell phone users solely for that reason alone.
Do I have to report the ticket to my car insurance company?
Some states require you to report violations to your insurance company; others don’t. Nevertheless, either way it doesn’t matter, because car insurance companies routinely run checks on their customers to keep track of their driving histories. Should you get a ticket for driving while talking on the phone; it will show up in the state’s database. Then it’s only a matter of time before your car insurance company discovers it during its next routine check.
Receiving a talking-while-driving ticket in another state isn’t any better. States routinely share information with one another on a regular basis. It is highly unlikely you could get a ticket in another state without your insurance company eventually finding out.
The thing you have to remember is this: if your insurance company finds out that you got a cell phone ticket you didn’t report to them, they will be even more suspicious of your integrity. That could cause your rates to go even higher.
How high will my car insurance rates go up if I get a ticket for talking on the phone?
Each car insurance company deals with traffic violations according to their own policies. As a rule, a middle-aged man with an otherwise clean driving history will probably only see a minor jump in rates for a first offense. If there are other tickets on his license, his insurance company will take into consideration what those other offenses are.
For example, a cell phone ticket combined with a speeding ticket will more than likely incur a very steep increase. But combined with a ticket for failure to wear seat belt, talking on the phone will not be so serious.
You also must remember that the insurance company will take into account the drivers age and how many miles that driver normally puts in. That means a 19-year-old college student who drives 30 miles to and from school every day is likely to see a fairly significant increase. Drivers of that age are already considered a high risk, but putting in that kind of mileage at peak driving time makes them even more of a risk. A ticket for talking on the phone only exacerbates both issues.
At the end of the day, it’s not worth the risk of higher insurance rates to talk on your cell phone while driving. There is no conversation so important that you cannot wait until you get to your destination or until you can find a safe place to pull over.