Limit the Impact of a Traffic Ticket on Your Auto Insurance

Take these steps to minimize the effect of a moving violation on your auto premium.

A moving violation can send your car insurance rate soaring – or not. Turns out it all depends on the type of violation, your age and what steps you take after you get a ticket.

A study by found that a conviction for driving under the influence (DUI) will result in an insurance premium increase of 92%, on average; whereas, a ticket for not wearing a seat belt leads to just about a 6% premium hike, on average. Drivers caught speeding 16 to 30 mph over the limit see an average rate increase of 28%, according to the study. (See how other violations affect premiums.)

However, your age can either increase or decrease your chances of paying more for car insurance after getting a ticket, a separate study by found. Drivers who are 18 to 49 years old are three times more likely to see their premiums rise after a moving violation than drivers 50 to 64 years old, according to the study. The reason for the difference, says senior insurance analyst Laura Adams, is that insurers check the records of younger drivers more frequently than those of older drivers and, as a result, are more likely to detect traffic violations.

Subscribe to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

Be a smarter, better informed investor.

Save up to 74%

Sign up for Kiplinger’s Free E-Newsletters

Profit and prosper with the best of expert advice on investing, taxes, retirement, personal finance and more - straight to your e-mail.

Profit and prosper with the best of expert advice - straight to your e-mail.

Sign up

Adams says that insurance companies only check the records of older adults, who typically are safer drivers, every three to five years. However, they look for moving violations every six months to a year for policy holders who are 49 and younger because they’re more likely to be risky drivers.

Now, if you get a DUI, your insurance company will find out quickly – regardless of your age – because most states are required to report that sort of violation directly to insurance carriers, Adams says. And you probably won’t be able to limit the impact of a DUI on your premium. But with most other moving violations, you can minimize the hit on your auto insurance. Here’s how.

Be proactive. If you get a ticket, your premium won’t go up immediately because insurers can’t change your rate until your insurance is up for renewal, Adams says. (They can cancel your policy, however.) “Your rate won’t go up tomorrow unless your renewal is tomorrow,” she says. So, in the meantime, go to traffic court if you think you were wrongly cited to get the charge reduced or dismissed. Or enroll in a driving course – a.k.a. traffic school – to get the points from a traffic ticket off your license to lower or eliminate the chances of a premium hike. Make sure you check with your state’s department of motor vehicles for approved courses.

Be safe. Learn from your mistake and drive safe to avoid additional moving violations. If you get a second ticket in a short period of time, your rate could skyrocket, Adams says.

Shop around. If your insurance rate goes up as a result of a moving violation, it’s a good time to shop around for a new policy, Adams says. That’s because carriers factor violations differently when setting rates. So you might find an insurer that’s willing to downplay your ticket. You also can get quotes from a variety of insurers at sites such as and See 3 Simple Steps to Reshop Your Car Insurance for more tips.

Ask about discounts. You might be able to offset a rate hike from a ticket by qualifying for discounts from your insurer. Typically, you have to report behaviors or factors that can qualify you for a discount. For example, you need to let your insurer know if you’re driving fewer miles than when you signed up for your policy because mileage plays a role in insurance rates, Adams says. Notify your insurer if you recently got married, which can help you score a discount, or are in school and have good grades (another discount). Some service-related occupations, such as teachers, health workers and military members, can qualify for discounted rates, too.

Cameron Huddleston
Former Online Editor,

Award-winning journalist, speaker, family finance expert, and author of Mom and Dad, We Need to Talk.

Cameron Huddleston wrote the daily "Kip Tips" column for She joined Kiplinger in 2001 after graduating from American University with an MA in economic journalism.