You didn’t yield properly when making a turn. You didn’t realize a speed zone dropped from 55 mph to 35 mph. You were running late to the doctor’s appointment and forgot to put your seatbelt on. Whatever the reason, you had a moving violation and you got caught.
And you know what? It happens. Even the best drivers get a ticket now and then.
Whether it’s speeding or something else, getting a ticket is a humbling experience. Not only are you stuck with an unexpected bill you have to pay, but then you get hit in another area -— your auto insurance increase.
Today we’re going to look at how to lower your auto insurance after a ticket. Because... well, nobody is perfect. So let’s look at how we can improve this less-than-ideal situation.
How to lower car insurance after a ticket — yes, it’s possible
Believe it or not, getting a ticket doesn’t have to mean the end of your budget-friendly car insurance premiums
. Now, we’re not saying it won’t take a little extra work on your part, but with these tactics, you can gain control of your payments.
Before we discuss these tactics, let’s discuss why increased auto insurance premiums are almost guaranteed once you get a ticket.
Why do my car insurance rates go up because of a ticket?
Some of you may wonder why your premiums have to increase at all because of one lousy ticket. Don’t we all make mistakes? Unfortunately, the insurers see it differently.
You can get a ticket for a variety of reasons. Driving without a license, speeding, reckless driving, distracted driving... you get the idea. But to an insurance carrier, if you have a ticket, it means a higher chance of getting in an accident one day. This is why your current insurer keeps an eye on your driving record.
And a higher chance of an accident equals a higher risk for the insurance company. Therefore, you’re going to pay for this additional risk. And that comes in the form of increased premiums.
You might also be wondering how much of an increase to your premiums we’re talking about here. Let’s put it this way - it’s not pretty.
According to The Zebra, auto insurance rates can increase as much as 82 percent. It depends on the type of violation you’re ticketed for. Here’s a snapshot of the average premium increase for some of the most common tickets:
|Violation||% Increase||$ Increase|
|Driving with expired registration||10.9%||$161|
|Hit and run||82.2%||$1,209|
Again, this is only a snapshot and many factors can influence your premiums. The state you live in has a big influence on how much your premium will increase. Some states ding you more for certain moving violations, which makes it harder to predict how much a premium will go up.
You should also note, your insurance premiums will stay “increased” for an average of three years. This makes it even more important to make sure you’re getting as low of a rate as possible going forward.
The best strategies to lower your auto insurance
Alright, let’s get into why you’re here. Here are strategies you can use right away to control the increased car insurance costs after a ticket. Oh, and by the way, these are useful tactics even if you’ve never had a ticket.
When it comes to auto insurance, it pays to shop around. The differences between premiums from one auto insurance company to the next can be significant.
There are several ways you can get head-to-head comparisons from various insurance carriers. You can:
- Visit each insurance carrier’s site and put in your information for an auto insurance quote. This is a no-haggle way of shopping (since you’re not working with a human) but it takes quite a bit of time.
- Work with an insurance broker. Some independent brokers can get multiple quotes for you. They earn a commission or fee only if you purchase a policy through them. The drawback to this is they may not work with specific insurance carriers, especially ones already using their agent network.
- Use a company agent. You can go directly to a car insurance company, such as State Farm, and work with an insurance agent. This can be helpful if you want to go “play around” with your policy, make changes, and get the most car insurance discounts possible.
- Use an online comparison tool such as Gabi or Carinsurance.net, that can compare multiple companies at once for you. We’ll discuss Gabi in greater detail later, but Gabi can save you a ton of time by comparing at least 40 different auto insurance carriers for you.
Yes, shopping for quotes will take a bit of time, but this can make one of the largest impacts on the amount you pay, even after a ticket.
Take a defensive driving course
Driver improvement, traffic school, driver safety course. No matter what you call it, a defensive driving course can not only help you become a safer driver but can help lower your rates.
Most insurance carriers offer a discount once you complete a course. Although there are exceptions to this if you’ve been charged with a DUI or reckless driving.
There are several options when it comes to taking a driving course. You can go the traditional route and meet in a classroom and face-to-face with an instructor. If you like this style of learning, then start comparing your options.
But now there are several reputable online options, making it more convenient than ever to learn safe driving habits and earn a certificate. You can watch videos, take quizzes, and go through modules whether it’s on a desktop or mobile device.
Look for a course that offers you a money-back guarantee and clearly outlines the course expectations. Like car insurance, you can shop around for prices but the cheapest may not be the best.
One more important note on defensive driving courses — each state has a different requirement for how long a course must be to get an insurance premium discount. For instance, in Idaho, the course must be six hours long to get the discount. So make sure whatever course you’re taking can satisfy your state’s requirements.
Ask for every discount imaginable
In addition to a safe driver discount, ask your agent or call customer service to review all available discounts with the carrier. You might be surprised at how much you’re eligible for, or maybe you’ve had major life events since originally purchasing a policy. From bundling discounts for combining homeowners insurance
with car insurance to safety features of your vehicle such as airbags, anti-lock brakes, and anti-theft devices, to good student discounts, there may be ways to lower your car insurance.
For instance, premiums are typically lower for someone married. So if you’ve gotten married since you initiated your policy, then you could be eligible for the discount. Or maybe you’ve switched to working remotely
, which means you may qualify for a low-mileage discount.
Of course, there are discounts for having multiple policies with a carrier (think homeowners or renters insurance) or having more than one car covered. But there are other lesser-known discounts too.
Many carriers offer a discount if you pay your annual premium all at once, as much as 12 percent with some companies. You can get extra discounts for getting a quote and purchasing your policy online. If you have good grades, or if you leave your car at home while you’re off to college then be sure to let the agent know.
Several carriers offer what’s referred to as an “affinity discount.” This discount applies if you’re a member of the carrier’s list of approved organizations. Organizations can range from alumni of specific schools, sororities, and fraternities, to being a nurse, firefighter, or teacher. Both Geico
and State Farm
offer these discounts.
It’s practically impossible to know all your available discounts without doing a little homework. Sure, it may take a little time, but the discounts can add up quickly and reduce the premiums quite a bit.
Raise your deductible
One task you can complete almost immediately is to raise your deductible. The deductible
is the amount of money you pay out of pocket before insurance pays for damage due to an accident. In general, the lower your deductible, the higher your premiums.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, raising your deductible $200 to $500 could reduce your collision and comprehensive coverage cost 15 to 30 percent. If you can afford a $1,000 deductible, you can reduce your premiums by 40 percent.
The caveat to a higher deductible is making sure you have the money in the bank to cover it. If you make a claim and you have to pay the deductible out of pocket, you don’t want the added stress of coming up with the money. This is a perfect time to make sure your emergency fund is in place.
Review your insurance coverage options
When you’re reviewing your deductible and available discounts, you should go ahead and review your entire policy. Most financial experts recommend reviewing your policy once a year anyway, but after a ticket is just as important.
If you’ve paid off your car, it’s a good time to assess whether you need comprehensive and collision. Or you may find you need to increase your liability coverage
if you have more assets in the bank.
Don’t forget to review your policy “extras.” For instance, you may find you no longer need emergency roadside assistance
, since many credit card companies or companies like AAA offer free or inexpensive options. Or maybe you’re no longer a rideshare driver so you don’t need this specialty coverage on your policy.
Reviewing your coverage options is a smart idea. You might find savings by simply removing items you no longer need. But it may also ensure you have adequate coverage where you need it, especially if you’ve had any major changes in driving habits.
Purchase a less expensive car
Another option — and one that takes the most amount of effort — is to drive a less expensive car, since the type of car you drive influences your premiums. This approach doesn’t work for everyone’s situation. But it is an option if you want to lower your premiums overall.
This doesn’t mean you have to trade your convertible for a minivan. But there is a difference in how much you pay versus the type of car you drive. Insurance companies consider how vulnerable certain cars are to theft, the safety record of the car, and the engine size.
For instance, a Subaru Outback is one of the least expensive cars to insure, with an average annual premium of $1,289. Compared to the BMW i8, which comes in with an annual premium average of $4,303. Granted, the BMW i8 is a gorgeous vehicle, but just comparing the auto insurance costs of the two, the Subaru is a less-expensive choice.
Other useful tips for revising or purchasing new auto insurance
Our strategies to lower your auto insurance after a ticket are ones you can use almost immediately. But in general, there are other ways to keep your premiums in check — whether you’ve had a ticket or not.
Improve your credit score
Numerous factors control how much you pay for auto insurance: gender, marital status, location (that’s a big one!).
Many don’t realize your credit score
is also a factor. Insurance companies view it as the lower your credit score, the higher your risk for an accident or claim. By improving your credit score, you can pay less on your auto insurance policy. To improve your credit score, try these simple tips:
- Review your report for free at annualcreditreport.com
- Review and report any discrepancies on your credit report
- Sign up for a free credit-monitoring service, often available through your bank
- Pay your bills on-time
- Keep paying down your debt
These are simple steps you can take to keep your score higher and your premiums lower.
When you’re shopping around or reviewing your policy — especially after a ticket — then use a tool like Gabi to save you time and money. Gabi
is an online auto insurance comparison tool and it can quickly review your policy and spot potential savings.
Gabi compares over 40 insurance companies and comes back to you with several quotes based on your exact policy needs. Gabi uses artificial intelligence to compare so many companies at once. The best part is, you upload your current policy to Gabi, and the results are based on true, apples-to-apples comparisons.
You will see in black and white how much of a difference one carrier is from another.
You can also modify your coverage options so you can see the impact the changes make on your premiums.
Gabi only makes money from the insurance company if you decide to purchase a policy through them — not from selling your information to multiple third parties. If you find a quote you like, you send them a text or email and get started with the process.
It doesn’t get much easier.
The bottom line
Getting a ticket doesn’t have to mean your premiums will skyrocket and no one will insure you. However, it does mean you need to take time to review your options — and remember, you have plenty to choose from — for your next course of action.
Whether it involves shopping for quotes, removing some extras from your policy, or raising your deductible, there are several ways to keep your premiums affordable. The bottom line is, getting a ticket can be the perfect opportunity to review your coverage and make sure you have the best for your budget.