If I Get A Ticket What Happens To My Insurance?
Getting a ticket is never a fun experience. But there are different types of tickets or convictions and some are a lot less fun than others. In addition to having to pay for your ticket, your car insurance premium can also be impacted for years to come. We want to explore the different types of convictions as well as some advice and tips to make sure they do not cost you more than they need to. Lets dive in!
What are the different types of tickets or convictions?
There are 3 different categories of tickets and convictions in the insurance world. The severity of these tickets impacts your insurance and your eligibility for where your auto insurance can be placed.
The first category is minor convictions. These are for offenses such as speeding (up to a certain amount over the limit), or not wearing a seat belt. These convictions are typically lower fine amounts and fewer demerit points. However, they do still impact your insurance (even if they are 0 demerit points). There are a few ways these impact your insurance. The first thing that can cause your insurance premiums to increase is if you have a conviction free discount. If your company provides this discount and you have it on your policy but receive a ticket you can lose that discount at your next renewal. This will cause your rates to increase. The conviction itself will lower your driver rating which typically means your rate will go up. There is a coverage you can purchase with some auto insurance companies called minor conviction protection. What this coverage does is it provides you one freebie if you will. If you receive a minor conviction your driver rating will remain the same and your premium will not go up at your new renewal as a result of that ticket.
The next category is major convictions. These are more serious offenses such as speeding in a school zone, providing fake insurance documents, or stunt driving. With a major conviction you may not be eligible with all auto insurance carriers and would have to find insurance from a high-risk market. This means increased premiums for the next 3 years and if you have other infractions or claims it can be very expensive.
One important note: many insurance companies are now treating handheld or distracted driving (cell phone) tickets as major convictions. Please keep your phone away while you are driving or stopped at a red light. Many cars now have Bluetooth available for hands free driving and you can purchase car mounts to hold your phone if you need to use them for directions. Just make sure you prepare your route before the vehicle is in motion and not while you are driving.
These are the most serious convictions. Impaired driving, failure to remain at the scene of a collision and careless driving are all examples of criminal convictions. With most criminal convictions your license can be suspended for a period of time. This means you will be unable to drive at all until that suspension is lifted. License suspensions also impact your insurance rating. With criminal convictions you will only have the ability to purchase insurance from a handful of high risk carriers and if you have a criminal conviction paired with any other infraction you will be forced to go to Facility Insurance.
What About Parking Tickets?
We get asked this question from time to time so I figure I would include it: Do parking tickets impact my insurance?
No parking tickets do not impact your insurance but if you fail to pay them you will be unable to renew your plate and sticker and that can lead to insurance complications.
How Long Does The Ticket Stay On My Record?
A ticket stays on your driving record for 3 years from the date the conviction is processed. When you receive a ticket, that date gets logged but that is not the date that will be used in rating for your insurance. Only when you have plead guilty and paid the fine is when the conviction date is logged and that is the date insurance companies will use. This means that if you fight a ticket or try and prove your innocence the ticket date will be when that is resolved in court. Of course if you are found innocent you will not have to worry. However, if you fight the ticket and it is reduced but you still have to pay a fine, that date will be the conviction date used on your insurance.
Here is an example: John is driving on Dec. 25th, 2021 and is late to his families Christmas. He is driving in an 80km zone that changes to a 60km zone and doesn’t adjust his speed. He gets pulled over for speeding 20km over the posted limit and receives 3 demerit points in addition to a fine. John after the holidays are over decides to fight his ticket on Jan. 4th, 2022. John decides to settle the ticket over the phone, he explains his case and they agree to drop his ticket to 10km over the limit, 0 demerit points and a lower fine. He then waits another week and pays the ticket on Jan. 11th. Despite the ticket occurring on Dec. 25th, 2021, the conviction date that the insurance company will use is Jan. 11th.
In John’s situation his premium could increase on his renewal if he does not carry the minor conviction protection coverage. Even though his ticket was reduce and was 0 demerit points, he still plead guilty to a minor infraction and that will show up on his record. His insurance company may pull his motor vehicle report before his next renewal and if they discover that minor conviction his premium can increase.
Can I Still Get Reasonable Insurance With Convictions?
Quantity and quality come into play when looking for insurance with tickets on your record. You can always find auto insurance in Ontario as you are legally obligated to carry it. However, the number of tickets you have on your record as well as the severity of those tickets can make it more and more difficult. In some cases the premium you may end up paying in a year can be more than your vehicle is worth. If you are a high-risk driver and require auto insurance our brokers can help. We have access to all of the high-risk auto insurance markets in Ontario. To get a quote head to our high-risk driver insurance page.