Personal Finance

Can my HOA write me a ticket?

Question: My homeowners association is talking about handing out fines for speeders in our gated community.  If I were "ticketed" by my HOA, could my insurer find out and penalize me? What about affecting my license? I'm in Colorado.

Answer:  It's pretty unlikely that this type of speeding "ticket" would affect your license or insurance. 

Unless a speeding violation is placed on your official state driving record, your insurance company should be none the wiser about you being caught speeding by your neighborhood homeowners association (HOA). Without knowledge of your risky behavior, your car insurance provider can't penalize you by rating you on the infraction and raising your rates. 

Since the ticket and fines are handed out by your HOA, and not a true law enforcement agency, we don't see how the speeding offense would ever make it to your motor vehicle record. It's our understanding an HOA is able to "ticket" its own residents (and guests of residents) only if the agreement and contracts the residents have with their HOA allow for it. 

If your HOA is considering fining residents when they, or their guests, are caught speeding in your gated community, then you need to address your HOA with any concerns you have before a decision is made to go ahead with such a venture. 

We are aware of a gated neighborhood in Colorado whose HOA has started fining those found speeding in their community. 

Here, the streets are considered private property and not regulated by the local sheriff's office, so the HOA has set up a photo-laser-radar to capture the picture of the license of speeding automobiles.

This particular HOA uses the photos to determine which resident the car belongs to (or if a visitor, what resident they were a guest of) and then fines them. The fines range from $15 for one to 4 mph over the limit up to $100 for 20 mph or more over. 

We contacted the Colorado Department of Insurance to verify that this type of "ticket" wouldn't affect motorists' car insurance rates. 

The representative said that, as a general rule, an auto insurance company will only use motor-vehicle ticketed violations and/or at-fault accidents. Thus, meaning tickets given out by authorized law enforcement officers and that go on your Colorado driving record. 

She too had read about the HOA that started to issue fines to speeders and doesn't believe it is an official ticket, but a fine given out from the HOA based on the agreement the homeowners have with the association. She advised you to check with the Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles to see what they said about these types of tickets and your driving record. 

Regarding official speeding tickets, the DOI representative said that each insurance company has its own underwriting guidelines and rating systems. So, if you have one or more moving violations on your driving record, it could affect your rates. It's best to have a conversation with your insurance agent regarding your insurer's business practices in regards to how they rate on traffic violations. 

If you have official moving violations on your driving record, it could result in your auto insurer penalizing you with a surcharge, which means higher rates and the possible loss of a good driver discount. If this happens, shop around before renewing with your current insurance provider. It's very possible that you could save hundreds, if not more, by comparison shopping for an insurer that doesn't rate as harshly for minor traffic tickets. (See "3 ways to save big money on car insurance")

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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