Research

Study: Six types of driving violations cause insurance rate hikes of 60% or more

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Just because fewer people were on the roads in 2020 due to the pandemic, the streets weren’t necessarily safer. In 2020, people drove 13% fewer miles than in 2019, but according to the National Safety Council (NSC), 42,060 people are estimated to have died in motor vehicle crashes last year. That’s an 8% increase in deaths over 2019. When comparing that rate of deaths to miles driven, the NSC found that 2020 had the highest rate of roadway deaths in 96 years.  

Deadly accidents, racing, not buckling a seatbelt, and plenty more offenses can cause insurance rates to rise. Insurance companies take all driving violations into account when calculating the cost of policies every year. If someone happens to be ticketed for a driving violation, they could see their car insurance costs rise from anywhere between .6% to a whopping 73.3% ($9-$1,083) on average. Plus, driving violations typically stay on a person’s driving record for at least three years, which means they’ll be paying the rate hike for a while. 

The amount drivers pay for breaking traffic laws depends on the violation and which state they live in. A new rate study by The Zebra reveals the impact driving violations have on car insurance and what steps drivers can take to reduce that impact.

Key findings
  • A single traffic ticket can raise insurance rates by 73%
  • Risky violations can more than double car insurance rates
  • The most expensive driving violations vary by state
  • Drivers with violations can lower their rates by staying safe
Finding 1

A single traffic ticket can raise insurance rates by 73%

The traffic violation with the single most significant impact on car insurance rates is a hit-and-run. Drivers charged with this can expect to pay a national average of 73% (or $1,083) more per year for car insurance.

However, insurance penalties for traffic violations don’t always align with what drivers may assume is the more dangerous driving behavior. Getting a ticket for driving too slowly can raise rates the same amount as getting a ticket for texting and driving. 

The chart below shows the national average rate increase after 28 common violations.

Violation Cost $ increase % increase
Leaving the scene of an accident (hit and run) $2,566 $1,083 73.0%
Racing $2,480 $997 67.2%
DUI $2,454 $971 65.5%
Refusal to submit to a chemical test $2,426 $943 63.6%
Driving with a suspended license $2,392 $909 61.3%
Reckless driving $2,389 $906 61.1%
At-fault accident greater than $2,000 $2,153 $670 45.2%
At-fault accident $1,000-2,000 $2,113 $630 42.5%
Open container $2,022 $539 36.3%
Operating a vehicle without permission $1,907 $424 28.6%
Passing school bus $1,904 $421 28.4%
At-fault accident less than $1,000 $1,889 $406 27.4%
Improper passing $1,846 $363 24.5%
Following too closely $1,838 $355 23.9%
Speeding $1,836 $353 23.8%
Wrong way-wrong lane $1,823 $340 22.9%
Illegal turn $1,821 $338 22.8%
Failure to yield $1,819 $336 22.7%
Failure to stop at a red light $1,818 $335 22.6%
Driving too slowly $1,804 $321 21.6%
Texting while driving $1,804 $321 21.6%
Cell phone violation $1,800 $317 21.4%
Driving with expired registration $1,638 $155 10.5%
Failure to show documents $1,631 $148 10.0%
Seat belt $1,566 $83 5.6%
Child safety restraint $1,555 $72 4.9%
Not-at-fault accidents $1,550 $67 4.5%
Driving without lights $1,543 $60 4.0%

Drivers may also see insurance penalties for getting into accidents and filing claims for the damage. Who was at fault, the size of the claim and the terms of the driver’s insurance policy can all impact how much a claim raises rates.

Claim Cost $ increase % increase
Two comp claims $1,619 $136 9.2%
Two Med-PIP claims $1,555 $72 4.9%
One comp claim $1,550 $67 4.5%
One Med-PIP claim $1,492 $9 0.6%

An insurance hike isn’t the only price drivers pay for a driving violation. They may also have to pay a fine and court costs.

Finding 2

Risky violations can more than double car insurance rates

This may seem obvious. The riskier the violation, the more the insurance policy will be because the driver is likelier to put themselves and others in danger more than other drivers on the road. 

The less risky violations won’t be a big hit to a driver’s budget. For example, driving without lights can cause an average increase of $60 per year, but a DUI could mean an average increase of $971 per year. 

Six violations can cause an average rate hike of 60% or more. Those violations are reckless driving, driving with a suspended license, refusal to submit to a chemical test, DUIs, racing and hit-and-runs.

RC_Costs.jpg

Drivers may also see rate increases after getting into not-at-fault accidents and filing claims. However, those increases typically aren’t as high. In some states, like California and Hawaii, not-at-fault accidents don’t increase a driver’s rate at all. The same goes for medical claims. In several states, filing one medical claim won’t increase drivers’ rates.

RC_Medical-states (1).jpg
Finding 3

The most expensive driving violations vary by state

Getting a ticket for a driving violation can raise someone’s car insurance rate, but the costs vary depending on which state they live in. 

For example, a ticket for not wearing a seatbelt in North Carolina can raise rates by 41.2% ($417), while the same ticket in Indiana won’t raise rates at all. 

The table below shows the most expensive violation(s) in each state and their average rate increases.

State Most expensive violation Average $ increase Average % increase
Alabama Hit and run $947 73.0%
Alaska Hit and run $839 60.1%
Arizona Hit and run $1,101 77.8%
Arkansas Driving with a suspended license, racing, hit and run $953 56.0%
California Reckless driving, hit and run $3,120 171.2%
Colorado Hit and run $924 54.4%
Connecticut Hit and run $1,369 88.8%
District of Columbia Hit and run $1,089 76.3%
Delaware Hit and run $1,294 80.1%
Florida Hit and run $910 39.2%
Georgia Hit and run $1,394 90.6%
Hawaii Hit and run $1,680 155.6%
Idaho Driving with a suspended license, hit and run $688 54.8%
Illinois Driving with a suspended license $703 54.7%
Indiana Driving with a suspended license $739 62.2%
Iowa Hit and run $763 66.3%
Kansas Hit and run $757 47.3%
Kentucky Hit and run $1,155 62.5%
Louisiana At-fault accident $1,000-2,000, at-fault accident greater than $2,000 $1,178 51.1%
Maine Racing, hit and run $651 59.2%
Maryland At-fault accident $1,000-2,000, at-fault accident greater than $2,000 $771 53.7%
Massachusetts Driving with a suspended license $1,183 90.8%
Michigan Reckless driving, hit and run $2,966 117.0%
Minnesota Hit and run $1,022 73.1%
Mississippi Hit and run $1,087 72.4%
Missouri At-fault accident $1,000-2,000, at-fault accident greater than $2,000 $828 49.1%
Montana Racing, hit and run $935 60.4%
Nebraska Reckless driving $535 35.2%
Nevada Driving with a suspended license $1,179 67.6%
New Hampshire Racing $1,075 111.9%
New Jersey Refusal to submit to a chemical test, DUI $1,070 71.2%
New Mexico Hit and run $921 72.3%
New York Hit and run $1,086 64.1%
North Carolina Racing $3,806 376.5%
North Dakota Driving with a suspended license, hit and run $619 46.8%
Ohio Racing, hit and run $523 56.5%
Oklahoma Hit and run $892 57.7%
Oregon Hit and run $763 57.3%
Pennsylvania Hit and run $856 64.0%
Rhode Island Racing, hit and run $1,991 106.3%
South Carolina Hit and run $745 50.8%
South Dakota Hit and run $1,007 69.9%
Tennessee Driving with a suspended license $855 68.0%
Texas Hit and run, reckless driving $905 60.4%
Utah Racing, reckless driving, hit and run $778 59.3%
Vermont Hit and run $974 92.2%
Virginia Driving with a suspended license $729 71.1%
Washington Hit and run $699 57.8%
West Virginia Driving with a suspended license, racing, hit and run $800 56.0%
Wisconsin Driving with a suspended license $639 59.2%
Wyoming Hit and run $1,026 70.3%

 

Finding 4

Drivers with violations can lower their rates by staying safe

If a driver has been stopped or ticketed by police for a driving violation, the best thing they can do to keep insurance rates low is not to offend again. But, that might be easier said than done. The Stanford Open Policing Project has collected over 200 million traffic stop records and search data from across the country. They’ve found that police officers generally stop Black drivers at higher rates than white drivers and stop Hispanic drivers at similar or lower rates than white drivers. Of course, whether a driver is stopped or ticketed isn’t their own choice — it’s up to the officer. 

With that in mind, drivers can do a few things to lower the cost of car insurance in both the short and long terms, even with a violation on their record. 

  • Ask their insurance company about discounts. Drivers could be eligible for several discounts for car features, school or employer affiliations, policy add-ons, customer loyalty, policy bundling, being a good student and more. Insurance companies should be able to drivers what they qualify for.
  • Shop around. Insurance companies compete for customers using rates. If a person’s policy is too expensive, another company might be able to get them a lower price because they may use a different formula to calculate rates than the current provider. People should also consider pay-by-mile insurance policies to save money if they aren’t frequent drivers. 
  • Take a defensive driving course. If a driver knows they take too many risks on the road, a defensive driving course may help them learn better driving behaviors and keep them safer in the long run. Plus, some insurance companies offer discounts for drivers who take these courses. Defensive driving courses don’t have to be a hit to someone’s budget. In Texas, drivers can find courses for just $25. Compared to the average $858 rate increase in the state for a reckless driving ticket, the course seems like a no-brainer.

It’s important drivers do what they can to keep themselves and others safe and avoid big rate hikes.  Traffic tickets aren’t “just tickets.” Well beyond the long-term cost of violations, unsafe driving behaviors really do put drivers and others at risk — that’s why insurance companies penalize them.

Between September and December 2020, The Zebra conducted a comprehensive auto insurance pricing analysis, comprising data from insurance rating platforms and public rate filings. The Zebra examined more than 83 million rates to explore pricing trends from 2011 to 2020 across 34,000 U.S. ZIP codes and Washington, D.C. Rates reflect a consistent base profile for the insured driver: a 30-year-old single male driving a 2016 Honda Accord EX with a good driving history and coverage limits of $50,000 bodily injury liability per person/$100,000 bodily injury liability per accident/$50,000 property damage liability per accident, with a $500 deductible for comprehensive and collision.

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The ZebraThe nation's leading independent insurance comparison site

The Zebra is an independent insurance advisor and quote comparison site with headquarters in Austin, Texas. Utilizing its real-time quote comparison tool, The Zebra partners with companies such as Allstate, Liberty Mutual, and Progressive to help consumers browse pricing, coverage, and service level for both home and auto insurance policies.