Rules of the Road

How much do speeding tickets affect your insurance rate? The fine is the cheap part

Question: How much does a speeding ticket affect your car insurance?

Answer: Is it safe to assume that when someone asks this question, there is a precipitating event that prompted it?

I know a writer is supposed to wait until the end for the big reveal, but I’m going to put it up front: The fine from a speeding ticket is the cheap part of the equation.

Before we get into the details, let’s address why speeding tickets affect your insurance.

Occasionally I come across people who argue that speeding isn’t a big deal; that it doesn’t cause crashes at the level those of us in the traffic safety community claim it does.

Okay, get ready, because here I come. For a moment, let’s set aside all the collision investigations done by trained professionals that indicate that speed is a factor. Let’s briefly set aside the data showing that in the last five years 40% of fatal crashes in Washington involved a speeding driver, at a loss of more than 1,000 lives.

Instead, let’s just focus on the insurance business.

Insurance companies compete to offer customers the best possible rates while also making sure they’re bringing in enough money to cover all the claims. They basically use math to decide how much you’re going to pay, based on how much risk they think you are to insure.

If a driver gets an infraction for speeding, they raise rates to the place where the math shows that they can still cover their anticipated claims and keep the customer.

Collision investigators, data researcher and the people at insurance companies doing the math all know that speed increases your risk of a crash.

But what does that increased risk cost to a driver?

I’ve seen studies showing that one speeding ticket will increase your insurance rates by 20% to 30%, but I wanted to see the real numbers.

So I went to the (insurance company name redacted) website and requested a quote, using their default settings for coverage. Then I edited my request to include one speeding violation in the past three years.

I kept adding tickets, assuming eventually they just would turn me down. Even at 10 speeding tickets they still offered my insurance, but there was a cost. Here’s the breakdown:

No violations: $666 per year.

One violation: $872 per year.

Two violations: $982 per year.

Three violations: $1,110 per year.

Four violations: $1,196 per year.

Five violations: $1,308 per year.

Six violations: $1,482 per year.

Seven violations: $1,610 per year.

Eight violations: $1,732 per year.

Nine violations: $1,890 per year.

Ten violations: $2,036 per year.

In this sample set of one, and recognizing that other insurance companies will come up with different (but likely similar) numbers, a single infraction results in a 31% increase in insurance rates.

Since the form for the insurance quote had a three-year time frame for violations, I’m guessing that the higher insurance rate would be in effect for three years after getting an infraction.

In this example we have a $206 per year increase, for a three year total of $618.

Let’s say the original violation was speeding 15 mph over the posted limit in a 50 mph zone. That’d be a $156 ticket.

The driver ends up paying the cost of an infraction five times — once to the government and four more times to the insurance company.

As long as we’re looking at insurance increases, I’ve worked out a few more percentages: Three infractions is good for a 67% increase, five infractions is almost double at 96%, and 10 infractions more than triples insurances rates — a 206% increase.

I don’t know how someone would actually get 10 infractions in three years; I feel like you’d have to put in some effort to do it.

By the way, if you’re a parent with a new driver in the house, these insurance rates would be some great math problems to review, preferably before your kid gets an infraction.

And the financial cost is only a small part of it. Young drivers make up 13% of the driving population, but they’re involved in more than 30% of fatal crashes.

Research shows that parents who monitor and enforce safe driving practices have kids who drive safer and are less likely to crash.

Young drivers do not have (and sorry if you’re under 25 and hearing this for the first time) a fully developed brain. They need parents and other respected adults to remind them that speed has consequences.

Those consequences can be the cost of infractions and insurance, and much more. It takes a village to raise a good driver. Welcome to the village.

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Doug Dahl, Target Zero Manager for the Whatcom County Traffic Safety Task Force, answers questions about road laws, safe driving habits and general police practices every Monday. Ask him a question using our form. Target Zero is Washington’s vision to reduce traffic fatalities and serious injuries to zero by 2030. For more traffic safety information visit TheWiseDrive.com.
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