(NEW YORK) — Contrary to what many drivers believe, getting a ticket doesn’t automatically lead to hefty car insurance premium increases.
In fact, only 31 percent of drivers ticketed in the past five years paid an increase, according to a survey just released by comparison-shopping site InsuranceQuotes.com.
“It’s a myth that insurance companies are constantly checking your record, and that if you get ticketed you’ll be noticed right away,” says Laura Adams, the site’s senior insurance analyst. “It might be the case if you’re a younger driver. But for the majority of drivers, it’s not.”
If you’re between the ages of 18 and 25, she says, your insurer probably is pulling up your Motor Vehicle Report (the document that keeps tabs on any tickets that you have gotten) once every six months. Because insurers view young drivers as risky, they monitor their records more closely.
“But if you’re an older driver,” Adams says, “and you’ve got a good record — if you’ve gone 10 years, say, without a ticket — then they’re not going to be pulling it often, if at all.”
The reason is cost. Pulling the report is expensive for insurers.
Some 41 percent of young drivers who got ticketed said they saw their premiums increase, compared with 32 percent of drivers aged 30 to 49 and 15 percent of drivers aged 50 or older. The most common increase was $100 a year or less, according to the survey.
Some kinds of tickets, of course, invite more scrutiny — and are costlier — than others.
Of the 1,000 respondents in the survey, most (62 percent) were ticketed for speeding. The next biggest group (19 percent) had run a stop sign or red light. Seven percent were ticketed for careless driving, 3 percent for driving while telecommunicating, and another 3 percent for driving drunk.
Some 58 percent said they had gotten only one ticket in the past five years; 25 percent got two and 9 percent got four or more.
Whenever possible, says Adams, you should try to have a ticket expunged from your record, since a repaired record reduces the odds you’ll pay more for insurance. Tickets for minor infractions are easily expunged in many states by attending traffic safety school.
Getting a second ticket, regardless of type, within six to 24 months of your first is such a red flag in the eyes of an insurer that you may lose coverage altogether.
Adams recommends that drivers with serious and/or multiple infractions consult an attorney. The laws of every state differ, she says, when it comes to ticketing and penalties.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
John Newsome and Anne Woolsey, CNN