SALTLAKECITY — No one enjoys getting pulled over for a traffic violation. It's embarrassing, and even a minor ticket can mean a major change in your auto insurance premium.
The people at Insurancequotes.com looked into those rate changes using this hypothetical scenario: A 45-year-old, college-educated, employed female with excellent credit driving a 2012 sedan.
They found on average, if she is caught not using her seat belt, her insurance goes up 5 percent. Driving solo in the HOV lane results in an 18 percent increase. And failing to signal for a turn or lane change led to a 19-percent increase. That's the same hike if she’s cited for tailgating another driver.
Speeding, up to 15 miles an hour over the limit, can mean a 21-percent hike.
Dave Platt has been an independent insurance agent for more than 30 years.
“Each insurance company establishes its own rates and rules,” he said.
While those citations may seem minor, insurance carriers have statistical data showing how each of those tickets increases a group of people's risk for getting into a crash, he said.
“It’s all an attempt to measure a risk that particular driver is presenting to the insurance company. I think most of the public would agree that a driver who drives consistently in an unsafe manner should pay more premiums than a driver who is more careful,” he said.
So how long, are you stuck paying the higher premium? Platt said in most cases it's the next three to five years, regardless of whether the points the state of Utah also slapped you with come off your driver's license.
Tickets = higher rates
Drivers can go into a plea of abeyance program in which they plead guilty, pay court fees, go to traffic school and stay violation-free on the road.
“The ticket never shows up on your record,” Platt explained. “It will not affect your insurance rates. Your insurance company will not have any way of knowing about it.”
Platt said another solution is to shop for insurance rates.
“Some insurance agencies are very hard on you. If you have even one ticket, then they raise your rates significantly. Other companies may not raise them at all,” he said.