Personal Finance

I forgot to tell my insurer about a ticket

Question: Will an insurer care that I forgot to list a speeding ticket I got last year?  It slipped my mind while shopping for a new insurance policy.  Is it really that important that the insurance company knows about all of my violations?

Answer:  Yes. Your rates were based on the insurance company's calculation of the risk you posed. More tickets equal more risk of claim.

Usually an insurance company will find out about a ticket even if you accidentally (or purposely) leave one out. At that point, if the omission is a minor violation, the company will recalculate your premium based on the new information. But the new rate isn't a punishment for lying or forgetting, only a recognition that you're not quite the risk you said you were.

To give you an accurate quote , you need to supply an auto insurance provider with accurate information. The quote you get is based on the personal information you provide. If you decide to act on the quote and buy a policy, the insurer then verifies the rating factor data you've given by requesting copies of certain reports, such as your credit history (if state laws allow), claims history ( C.L.U.E. report ), and motor vehicle record (MVR). 

When something shows up on a report that you didn't inform the insurance company about, the insurer will re-evaluate if you're an acceptable risk.  You may still be offered a policy, but your rates could change from what you were originally quoted.  One minor ticket may not change rates much, if at all, but if it's a major offense expect your rates to jump significantly or the offer to disappear altogether.  

If you already purchased a policy, then when the insurer finds the "forgotten" information you may be notified that your premiums were modified due to this new data and that to keep your policy in effect you will need to pay an additional premium amount.

If you don't pay the extra cost, the policy will cancel out.  Or you may just be informed by the insurer that it's canceling your policy because it now perceives you to be a high-risk driver that they don't want to insure.

State laws on cancellation once a policy is started vary, but one typically allowable reason is misinformation on the application. Intentional misrepresentation can be seen as insurance fraud. 

If your rates go up, or your policy is canceled after your insurer finds the missed speeding conviction, then shop around to get the best car insurance rates possible -- and this time make certain to provide insurers complete information. (See "12 ways to double-check your savings.")

Another insurer might not penalize you for an additional minor violation. The rules are very different at each company.

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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