How Does My Driving History Affect My Insurance Rates?

Last Updated on October 25, 2020

Your driving history tells insurance companies a lot about you. If you are a careful driver with a clean record, your insurance rates will reflect that. If you are an aggressive, reckless driver with a history of at-fault accidents and traffic violations, you, unfortunately, will see that reflected in your rates as well.

Insurers are in the job of assessing risk. If your driving history is riddled with multiple examples of bad judgment and unsound driving habits, auto insurance companies will view you as a high-risk driver and might even refuse to cover you. Or, if they do provide coverage, they’ll make you pay outrageously high premiums.

How Does My Driving History Affect My Insurance Rates?Auto insurance is expensive enough. The high insurance rates you’ll face from being a “bad driver” are just another reason to follow traffic laws and steer clear of accidents.

Albert Einstein once said, “if you want to know the future, look at the past.” In the same way, insurers view your past driving behavior as a sign of your future driving behavior. Your driving history plays a big role in determining your risk factor and how your premiums are calculated.

How much of an effect does your driving record have on your premiums? How long does a bad driving record hurt your auto insurance? How long do traffic violations (like DUI/DWI’s) stay on your record? Below, we’re answering every question you might have about your driving history and auto insurance rates.

Determining the Amount You’ll Pay for Car Insurance

When determining your auto insurance rates, insurance companies will assess your risk based on several different underwriting factors. This assessment will ultimately place you in a certain risk class – high risk or low risk, for example. Your risk class is one of the major factors that determine how much you’ll pay for insurance.

To determine risk, insurers will look at your age, your address, your gender, your credit score, what car you’re driving, and most importantly, your driving history.

Teenage drivers, for example, will always pay high rates for auto insurance. They have a minimal driving history and their young age places them in a high-risk class.

Drivers with a history of traffic violations and accidents will also be considered high risk. Sometimes, even a single wreck or speeding ticket can double or triple your rate. This is why it’s important to maintain a clean driving record.

How Long Do Violations and Accidents Impact Insurance Rates?

To determine how long an accident or traffic violation will affect your premiums, you have to look at your insurance company. Some companies, for example, offer accident forgiveness, which will forgive your first at-fault accident. Other companies might forgive a single speeding ticket or moving violation.

Most insurance providers, however, will increase your premiums for 3 to 5 years after a major moving violation conviction, and they might do so for an at-fault wreck, as well.

Your rates will drop when this time period is over as long as you did not get into any more accidents or accumulate additional traffic violations. However, your insurance company will still keep track of all of your accidents and violations and will even share this information with other insurers. This information will be used not only to determine your rates but also when deciding whether or not they want to offer you coverage.

DMV Points and Your Driving History

A lot of states use a points system for tickets and serious moving violations. The points will go on your driving record and stay for designated periods of time. The amount of time is determined by your state and by the type of violation. The more points you get, the more likely you are to have your license suspended or revoked, and the higher the risk you are to an auto insurance company.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to remove points from your record. Points usually fall off after a certain time period, but if you want to remove them faster, you can do things like taking a defensive driving course or attending traffic school. In some states, like New Jersey, if you have a year with good driving behavior, you can even request having your points removed yourself.

DWI or DUI? Your Premiums Will Go Way Up!

As you might have assumed, a DUI or DWI conviction will cause your premiums to go through the roof. Your insurance provider might even refuse to renew your policy after you’re arrested for a DUI/DWI.

If you are dropped by insurance following your drunk driving conviction, your insurance choices will be limited. You will most likely be forced to buy expensive coverage from a company that specializes in writing high-risk policies. If this isn’t an option for you, or you cannot afford it, you will either have to go without auto insurance (stop driving) or enroll in your state’s assigned-risk car insurance plan.

Keep in mind that insurance is all about risk, and having a DWI or DUI conviction on your driving record can make you a very unappealing customer for most insurance providers. Insurance companies go on red alert when they see a DWI because this is a sign of an extremely reckless driver. Needless to say, if you have a DUI on your record, you can expect a huge increase in your insurance premiums.

Speeding Tickets and Insurance Rates

Speeding is a very common – but potentially fatal – moving violation. The NHTSA reports that nearly 33% of traffic fatalities are related to speeding, and speeding kills almost 10,000 people each year.

That being said, a single speeding ticket might not affect your auto insurance rates much if you have a pretty clean driving record overall. Some insurance providers will even forgive your first speeding ticket. GEICO, for example, has something called “incident forgiveness,” which will forgive your first moving violation.

If your insurance company does increase your rates after a single speeding ticket, it won’t be by much. Most companies increase premiums by 5-10% after a single speeding ticket. The reason the premium increase isn’t significant is that insurers want to retain their customers. If your insurer penalized you harshly for a single speeding ticket, you could simply shop around for lower rates elsewhere.

Multiple speeding tickets, however, will have a significant impact on how much you’ll pay for insurance. The increase for more than one ticket will be far greater than a 5-10% hike.

Car Accidents and Insurance Premiums

Getting into a single accident can have a major effect on your insurance premiums, even if you weren’t the at-fault driver. This is the reason why many people opt to not file an insurance claim for smaller accidents.

As stated above, accidents will stay on your driving record for 3-5 years. The exact dollar amount by which an accident will impact your premiums depends on a variety of factors, including how severe the accident was and whether or not you were at fault for the accident.

Some insurance companies offer accident forgiveness, which means your first accident will not be used against you. Other insurance companies are relatively lenient and may only raise your rates by 15% after an at-fault accident. Other companies might have harsher consequences for at-fault accidents and will increase your premiums by over 50% following the accident.

Higher rate increases are particularly common for younger drivers involved in at-fault collisions. Teen drivers will have an especially are time finding cheap auto insurance rates if they have an accident on their record.

Keeping Track Of Your Driving Record

Since points on your driving record can take such a toll, it’s crucial to monitor your driving record. Make sure you know what’s on your record, and check it regularly for accuracy.

It’s crucial to check your record if you are looking around for auto insurance quotes or if it’s almost time to renew your existing policy.

DMV offices can make mistakes from time to time and sometimes post incorrect driving history information that can make your car insurance rates go up. A traffic violation that should have been removed from your driving record a long time ago could add hundreds of dollars to your premiums every year.

James Shaffer
James Shaffer James Shaffer is a writer for and a well-seasoned auto insurance industry veteran. He has a deep knowledge of insurance rules and regulations and is passionate about helping drivers save money on auto insurance. He is responsible for researching and writing about anything auto insurance-related. He holds a bachelor's degree from Bentley University and his work has been quoted by NBC News, CNN, and The Washington Post.
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