Traffic warnings shouldn’t affect your car insurance, as they usually don’t go on your driving record. Any citation that appears on your driving record may have an impact on your insurance rate; however, getting a warning is just that – a warning and not a violation or citation.
In this article, we will highlight everything you need to know about traffic warnings and how they affect your car insurance rates.
Why do police officers give out warnings?
Police officers are usually faced with a hard choice of either issuing a ticket or warning. Several factors need to be considered before making a decision, one of them being the gravity of the offense. Thus, police officers may desist from issuing tickets to drivers who have committed trivial offenses and rather opt for a warning.
For instance, if the police pull you over for exceeding the speed limit with 10 km/hr, they are likely to issue you with a verbal or written warning. However, if you were caught exceeding the limit with 25 km/hr, you will possibly get a speeding ticket.
Verbal vs. written warning
A verbal warning is mostly issued when stopped for a minor violation. There are no records, demerit points, and fines issued with a verbal warning; it is just to notify you that they (officers) have noted the offense and will take the necessary action if there are any further infractions.
Written warnings are given when a verbal warning is not sufficient. These warnings can be issued for more grave violations such as parking violations and over speeding, but they don’t attract any fines or demerit points either.
If you get a verbal warning, thank the police officers and proceed with your journey – you don’t want to risk being issued a ticket for something else, which may lead to a rise in your insurance rates.
Can warnings affect car insurance rates?
While receiving a speeding ticket or getting into an accident will raise your insurance rate, getting any traffic warning will mostly not bear significant consequences.
Let’s say if you were requested to pull over for going above the stipulated speed limit and the police officer gave you a warning. You don’t have to lose sleep since it does not affect your auto insurance costs.
Do insurance companies have access to warnings?
Though traffic warnings are unlikely to affect your auto insurance rates, that doesn’t mean there are no penalties to your formal or written warning notice.
At times, your insurance company can get access to your warnings. Some written warnings might reach your insurance company or the Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV). Eventually, the insurer may use the warning notice or reprimand as proof that you fall into the category of high-risk drivers.
In most instances, insurance companies will not increase their rates for minor infractions – like a burnt-out headlight.
However, if the insurance company goes through your driving record and finds several written warnings for traffic violations, then this could be a justification for why your rates go up.
You are viewed as a riskier driver because of your multiple warnings. And it is within the insurance’s rights to raise rates for riskier drivers.
Again, if you are moving insurance companies, the new insurance company will probably scrutinize your profile. They may request a background check and pull up your entire driving history. Meaning, if you have multiple written warnings, this could work against you.
Other things can affect your car insurance rate.
Accidents and warnings are not the only things that affect your insurance rates. Besides being a safe driver, here are a few other things that insurance companies look out for when determining your rates:
- Your city of residence
- Credit score
- Marital status
- Vehicle type
- Driving history
Lowering your car insurance after multiple written warnings
Got multiple written warnings that result in a surcharge? Here is what you can do:
- Take a defensive driving course – Consider taking a state-approved driving course to drop off points on your driving record. This may help with your warnings.
- Ask for discounts – Although you got busted for a traffic violation, that doesn’t mean you are not entitled to an auto insurance discount. You can get car safety discounts, multi-line discounts like bundling home and auto insurance, and other types of discounts, such as going paperless or paying your premium in full.
- Shop around – Compare around for the best car insurance quotes. Your written warnings will negatively affect your driving record and trail you to your new insurance company, but they might still be in a position to beat your old insurer’s rates for the same coverage.
A warning, especially a verbal one, is less likely to increase your insurance rates. Your current insurer perhaps won’t even know about the warning. But be careful; if you attract too many written warnings on your driving record, your rates will rise.