I just received a ticket for failure to wear a seat belt; I got
caught under the "Click It or Ticket" campaign that was going
on. Will this ticket affect my insurance? This was my first
seat-belt ticket violation.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
(NHTSA) each year promotes the national seat belt enforcement
"Click it or Ticket" campaign. During this operation, more
than 10,000 law enforcement agencies in all 50 states are on the
lookout for motorists who forget to buckle up.
Everyone who gets this kind of ticket -- or any ticket that
doesn't involve an accident or a DUI, for that matter -- wonders if
car insurance rates
will go up as a result.
to affect your rates, certain things have to happen.
- The ticket must hit your motor vehicle record (MVR).
- Your state must allow insurance companies to penalize you for
- Your insurance company must consider the violation a risk
If any of those factors isn't present, then your rates would not
be affected, either because your auto insurance company won't find
out about the offense or won't penalize you for it.
First, your insurer has to find out
For a seat-belt ticket, or any traffic violation, to affect your
rates, it needs to be placed on your state motor vehicle record.
Many kinds of tickets won't show up -- cell-phone tickets, parking
tickets, fix-it tickets for broken headlights, carpool-lane
violations, or expired registrations. Car insurance companies won't
consider infractions that don't hit your driving record. (See "
Tickets that don't raise your insurance rates
Usually, an MVR reflects only moving violations -- acts that
could endanger lives or property.
But if the ticket is a moving violation and lands on your
driving record, all is not lost.
Some states, such as New York, don't permit auto insurance
providers to penalize you if you have only one minor moving
violation on your MVR. Look to your state insurance regulator
to find out what rules your state has for auto insurance companies
Even if your state does allow surcharges, it doesn't mean that
your car insurance company will raise your rates. Many auto
insurers may not consider a minor ticket such as failure to use a
seat belt risky enough to rate you on it. Others might.
A minor speeding ticket might fall into that category. Reckless
driving or a DUI certainly would not.
Is this your first ticket? Lucky you
For many people, the biggest threat to their current insurance
premium isn't an increase in rates, but the loss of any good driver
With most insurers, you can lose any safe driver discount
(usually a sizable amount of 15 percent or more) just by having a
moving violation on your MVR. So while it's not a rate
increase, the loss of the discount will cause your premium to
If your insurance company's guidelines consider the ticket a
rating factor, the good news is that you typically receive a rate
increase for a first ticket of less than 5 percent.
The bad news is that if you already have other traffic
violations on your MVR, the number of tickets you have accumulated
may push your rates up 20 percent or more. Multiple tickets show a
pattern of bad decisions as a driver and make you a higher risk to
If the ticket causes your rates to rise or the loss of a
good-driver discount, you will find out at your renewal
period. That's a good time to shop around for cheaper car
insurance rates, because no two car insurance companies have the
same guidelines about risk. The difference could be hundreds of