How Much Does Reckless Driving Affect Auto Insurance?
Reckless driving has a different meaning depending on who you are talking to. For most people, reckless driving usually means having any of the following 3 characteristics:
- Multiple at-fault accidents in the last 5 years
- More than one speeding violation for going over 25 miles an hour over the speed limit
- Driving under the influence
Legally-speaking, there is a specific definition of reckless driving. This definition usually means, “showing irreverence or indifference to the safety or property of others.”
This could include things such as passing school buses when their unloading children, going too fast in a construction zone or falling asleep at the wheel.
Each state has its own definitions and examples that meet them, but in all cases, it will have a negative impact on your insurance rates.
How Do Accidents & Violations Affect My Insurance?
Any type of accident or traffic violation, whether it’s reckless or not, will affect your auto insurance rates for a period of either 3 or 5 years. The exact timeframe will depend on the company. Some states look back even further than 5 years, especially if serious violations have occurred.
Accidents and traffic violations are classified by type and severity by insurance companies. Any type of reckless driving is among the most severe, along with DUIs. These will impact your rates the quickest and with the most premium difference.
It’s important to know, however, that insurance companies cannot raise your rates in the middle of a policy. Once you have an active policy, whether it’s for 6 months or one year, your actual rates are locked-in for that policy period.
The only thing that can change your premium is making a change to your policy. This could be something such as adding a vehicle, adding a driver, moving to a new ZIP code, or just making changes to your coverages.
So, your premium can change due to changing circumstances, but your rate will stay the same until a new policy term.
If you have a clean record and have a current insurance policy, but then you get arrested for a DUI and going 30 miles an hour over the speed limit, technically this wouldn’t affect your rates until your renewal.
The one thing that could happen with reckless driving isn’t a rate increase in the middle of a term, but a cancellation of your policy.
Not every company would cancel you for receiving a reckless driving citation, but if the violation is severe enough and/or results in a severe accident, it’s possible you could receive a cancellation notice.
If the company doesn’t cancel you, then you would have until the end of your policy period before you would either see an increase in premiums or get a notice that the company won’t be renewing you.
How Much Will My Policy Go Up After A Reckless Driving Violation?
Reckless driving will have the biggest impact on your premiums, along with a DUI. The exact amount that it will go up will depend on factors such as:
- Driving history (how many violations/accidents?)
- Vehicle type
However, reckless driving offenses usually result in over a 50% increase in your premiums, with over a 100% increase not being unheard of.
If you are under the age of 25, you can expect your insurance to definitely increase by over 100%.
What Can I Do After A Reckless Driving Violation?
If you have a reckless driving violation on your record, there isn’t anything you can do to remove it. However, there are some things you can do to reduce your auto insurance premiums.
The first thing you should do is take a defensive driving course. You might be required to do this anyway, but it is a good idea to help you prevent further violations and possibly a suspended license.
Most insurance companies offer a discount if you’ve taken a defensive driver course.
Other changes you can make to your policy to help reduce your premiums:
- Drive an older vehicle. Not only are older vehicles less expensive to insure, but you can also drop full coverage (Comprehensive and Collision) from it. Full coverage will be extremely expensive after a reckless driving incident.
- Enroll in as many discounts as possible. Many companies offer discounts for things such as paying-in-full, paperless billing, and educational discounts. Find out what your company offers and enroll in as many as you’re eligible for.
- Telematics. If your insurance company offers a telematics program, find out if your eligible and enroll in this program. It tracks certain aspects of your driving, but it can’t penalize you. Most drivers see a 5-10% decrease in their premiums after using telematics.
Having a reckless driving incident on your record spells bad news for your auto insurance rates, but it doesn’t have to break the bank. Be proactive in preventing another occurrence and soon enough your premiums will go back down.