I got my first ticket in 20 years of driving. My six-month
premium went up by $200. Is this normal?
Without knowing what violation you were convicted of or what
percentage $200 is of your car insurance's biannual bill, it's hard
to say if this is an average rate increase or not.
If your total auto insurance bill is for $1,000, and thus your
premium went up 20 percent due to this ticket, then that isn't
unheard of. If your six-month premium is only $500 and this ticket
made it go by 40 percent, then that would seem high for just one
minor traffic ticket hitting your
There is no hard and fast rule among auto insurance companies
that one traffic ticket will equal a premium increase of X amount.
car insurance rates
vary greatly from one auto insurance company to the next. Some auto
insurers won't surcharge for one minor traffic ticket, while other
insurers will surcharge you for the first traffic offense you're
It all depends upon the rating system an insurer has filed with
the state and its internal guidelines regarding
and surcharges. However, all insurers will normally take away
good driver discount
you had for maintaining a clean driving record up to this point
(losing that plus gaining a surcharge can really cause rates to
The amount of surcharge (the extra amount you're charged) also
varies depending upon who your auto insurer is.
For instance, one ticket may result in only a 5 to 10 percent
rate increase with some car insurance companies. Meanwhile, with
others, it may be 20 percent or more.
What the ticket was for will also factor into the amount of the
Similar to the way most states assign points to your license,
car insurance companies have insurance points that they apply to
traffic violations. The point system varies by insurers, but
all assign lower points for minor violations (like running a red
light) and higher points for major offenses - such as a DUI or
reckless driving. The higher the points, the higher the
surcharge. (See "Do all traffic tickets affect my rates?")
In most states, to know what your company's surcharge schedule
is you have to ask your car insurance company for a copy.
It's good to have it on hand so that if you do get a ticket, you'll
get an idea of how much your rates will increase.
Knowing how much a ticket may affect your rates can also help
you decide if you need to try and challenge the ticket in court or
use another method, such as traffic school, to keep it from making
it onto your driving record where your insurer can see it.
Since your rates have already gone up, it would appear you have
lost out on any chance to keep the violation from going on your
driving record. So, keep these things in mind for next time (if
there is one in your next 20 years of driving).
In the meantime, shop around with other car insurance companies
to see if you can get cheaper rates. You may want to see if a
pay-as-you-drive plan will give you the best rates. Safeco's
Rewind program can help a traffic ticket not count against your
Spending as a few minutes of your time to comparison shop for
the lowest car insurance rates can save you hundreds, if not much
more, on your auto insurance premiums.