insurance

5 traffic tickets costliest for car insurance

Costly command: 'License and registration'
Costly command: 'License and registration' © bikeriderlondon/Shutterstock.com

Those whirling blue lights in the rearview mirror usually mean just one thing: It's traffic ticket time. The worse the violation, the more your car insurance costs may rise because it's more likely you'll be considered a bigger risk to the insurer.

Rack up a combination of the nastiest violations plus a few accidents, and insurers may even refuse to cover you, says Loretta Worters, spokeswoman for the Insurance Information Institute, a trade group.

It boils down to matching the premium you pay to your risk as a customer, says State Farm spokesman Dick Luedke.

"Sometimes you get lucky and violate (traffic laws) a lot and don't get caught, and sometimes you do it once, and you are caught," he says. "That's why we use all sorts of other things to measure risk as well."

So it's tough to say how much your insurance premiums will rise per violation. Different insurers calculate premium costs differently, Worters says.

With the help of experts, including J. Robert Hunter, insurance director for the Washington, D.C.-based Consumer Federation of America, we now identify what are considered the five worst traffic violations for your insurance bills.

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Things can start getting costly when a police officer orders you to present your license and registration. Traffic tickets can raise your car insurance rates, especially if you commit one of five particularly serious violations.

It's tough to say just how much more you'll pay for your auto policy if you get a traffic ticket, because insurers will view your infraction in the context of your overall risk profile. But insurance industry insiders and observers say these tickets can do the most damage to your premium: driving under the influence; reckless driving; speeding; running a red light; and driving without a valid license. The financial penalty can be severe.

Robert Hunter, insurance director for the Consumer Federation of America, says a DUI can cause your insurance rate to spike as much as 25 percent. A reckless driving ticket can increase your premium up to 20 percent. It all makes for another very good reason to obey the law.

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