How a Traffic Violation Affects Car Insurance Premiums

How a Traffic Violation Affects Car Insurance Premiums

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Traffic violations can result in hefty fines or legal fees, but it can also cost you in the form of car insurance rate hikes. A reckless driving violation, for example, adds 77 cents per dollar on average to your car insurance premiums.

We'll detail how other common violations influence yearly car insurance premiums.

How much a traffic violation can affect your rates

We observed these common traffic violations:

  • Failure to observe a sign or signal
  • Speeding
  • Reckless driving
How different violations affect car insurance premiums

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When analyzing a standard driver profile, we discovered an increase of 28 cents per dollar in car insurance premiums for drivers failing to observe a sign or signal. Speeding comes in slightly higher at an additional 31 cents per dollar. As we noted, a reckless driving violation adds 77 cents on average.

To help you understand, imagine your annual premiums typically cost $1,000 a year. In that scenario, your premium would increase to:

  • $1,280 after a failure-to-observe violation
  • $1,310 after a speeding violation
  • $1,770 after a reckless driving violation

How age, insurer can play role in quotes after traffic violation

Several factors influence how a traffic violation affects your quote. By looking into how Geico calculates auto insurance quotes in Alabama, we gained a better understanding of why premiums increase the way they do. For one, speeding and failure-to-observe violations are considered minor, while reckless driving is deemed major, weighing heavier on your rates. Here's what else our researchers found.


Your age can influence how severely you're punished for a violation. Older drivers — in this example, 74-year-olds — get penalized the most, while younger drivers — in this example, 18-year-olds — get penalized the least. Minor violations, as detailed above, tend to come with smaller penalties for all age groups, while reckless driving has a heavier penalty overall.

Drivers who are 74 years old see car insurance premiums increase by 1.81 times on average after a reckless driving violation. In the following table, you can see how premiums increase with age across the three violations:

No violations
Failure to observe
Reckless driving

Again, speeding and failure-to-observe violations affect car insurance premiums somewhat similarly since they're considered minor. In our scenario, this comes out to an average of 20 cents extra per dollar (failing to observe) to 44 cents extra per dollar (speeding) for 74-year-olds.

When it comes to 18-year-olds, on the other hand, the change in premiums is less — just 9 cents (failing to observe) to 20 cents (speeding) on average.

If you get a reckless driving violation, you can expect your premium to rise by 34 cents per dollar on average if you're 18 or 81 cents per dollar if you're 74.

Insurance company

Every insurance company has a different way to calculate premiums. Above, we explored Geico auto insurance in Alabama, but other major insurance companies will have different systems. In our quote analysis, we looked at rates from:

No violations
Failure to observe/speeding
Reckless driving

ValuePenguin researchers found that Nationwide penalized the most for both the minor and major violations. On the other side, Alfa and USAA penalized the least for minor violations, while Allstate penalized the least for a major.

This isn't to say that, for example, USAA is the best auto insurance company for individuals with minor infractions. These are just the relative differences compared to the rate you were getting originally — before violations.

Where it gets tricky is whether your base rate — with no violations — is better at Alfa, Allstate, Nationwide, USAA or another insurance company. That's why it's always in your best interest to compare multiple quotes to find the most affordable rates for your coverage.

Avoid risk to prevent higher car insurance premiums

If you do find yourself on the wrong end of a ticket, taking precautions can help limit the hit to your insurance premiums.

If you think you might get another ticket, then shopping around could help keep expenses down. Some insurers penalize drivers less than others after a traffic violation. At the end of the day, however, insurance companies are likely to offer the best rates to people who keep clean driving records.

In the past, we've explored how DUIs, credit scores and age affect car insurance rates. While a traffic violation is not as severe as a DUI, it can still end up being expensive.


Rates were pulled for companies in four states: Alabama, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Missouri.

Our sample driver was a single 30-year-old man driving a 2015 Honda Civic EX. Unless noted, rates were for this driver, who had a below-average credit score and was quoted for a minimum-coverage policy. Our analysis used insurance rate data from Quadrant Information Services. These rates were publicly sourced from insurer filings and should be used for comparative purposes only, as your own quotes may be different.

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.