If a cop hands you a ticket for speeding, swerving in and out of lanes, or causing a crash, you’re already paying up. However, drivers need to keep in mind that those tickets can also mean big increases to their car insurance premiums. And the most expensive traffic ticket varies from state to state.
For example, if you’re caught racing in North Carolina or driving drunk or recklessly in California, that single violation will cost you nearly $3,000 on your annual auto insurance premium. (For North Carolina, that’s a 350% rate increase!) And that’s not including the ticket itself or any court fees or other expenses.
Although each state regulates insurance differently, every state’s most costly violation will earn the driver a car insurance rate increase of at least 40%. We break down the most expensive traffic violations in all 50 states (plus Washington, DC) from our new State of Auto Insurance Report:
What’s the most expensive traffic ticket in your state? And how much will one violation raise your auto insurance?
Insights from an Insurance Agent
The Zebra’s own licensed insurance agent and resident expert Neil Richardson weighs in on the findings:
Why are the same traffic violations more costly for drivers in some states than others?
So many things about pricing insurance vary by state and situation, and violations are no exception. Just like our data shows that factors such as marital status, gender, and homeowner status affect your rate differently depending on your state, the same can be said for traffic tickets.
How do states have such variance among their most egregious traffic violations?
The risks associated with accidents are statistically different for each state, so what insurance companies consider the “worst” (and thus costliest) ticket in each state will come down to the ticket which leads to the greatest amount of risk caused by drivers in that particular state. For example, certain states (even certain zip codes) have higher frequencies of DUIs that lead to collisions than others, so insurance companies factor the likelihood of someone getting into a collision based on those statistics.
What can drivers do to keep their car insurance rates low?
- Drivers need to shop around every six months or every year for new rates. Insurance companies may increase their rates due to various factors, so you might be paying a higher rate if you stay. Be honest about your driving history when you compare quotes to truly see the lowest rates for your coverage needs.
- Maintain continuous coverage. Insurance companies will raise your rates if they see gaps in time when you didn’t have an active insurance policy.
- Consider sharing or combining policies with a family or household member if you aren’t able to afford a policy on your own. Combining policies can make you eligible for additional discounts that you might not quality for on your own, such as a homeowner discount or multiple vehicle discount.
- Bundle your auto policy with renter’s or homeowner’s if you like the insurance company and can get the coverage you need – you could earn a substantial discount.
- And of course, maintain a clean driving record. As we’ve seen above, a driving violation nearly always raises your rates – and can sometimes double or triple your annual premium – so stay focused on the road when driving and watch that speed limit.
*Originally contributed to Credit.com.