If you ever get pulled over for speeding, your heart rate isn’t the only thing that might increase when the officer knocks on your window. Many drivers find that their insurance rates go through the roof — even after a single speeding ticket. How can you avoid an insurance rate increase after a speeding ticket?
Here are the hard facts: Some insurers will forgive a minor infraction, you could end up tarnishing your permanent driving record with repeat offenses. That means permanently steep insurance costs.
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While there’s no cure-all for fixing your insurance after a speeding ticket or accident, and it will depend on your insurance company and your personal record, there are a few steps you can take to stop your insurance rates from spinning out of control.
Learn From Your Mistake
There is no better way to avoid insurance hikes than by learning from your mistakes. Many insurance companies will show you some grace after a single violation. But if you get caught speeding a second or third time, they will deem it a pattern and start penalizing you for it.
So if you do find yourself with a ticket, think of it as a warning and don’t let it happen again.
Don’t Pay the Ticket Right Away
It’s far from a perfect process, but most states will generally interpret payment of a ticket as an admission of guilt. That means, as soon as you write the check, you’re out of options.
Fortunately, you’re typically given 30 days to make the payment, which is enough time to figure out your options. In that interim, you may deem that it’s worth going down to the court to fight the violation.
Fight City Hall
There’s no guarantee that your ticket will be expunged simply because you go to court, but it is your right to speak with a judge. And, if you truly believe there was a mistake — or something isn’t right with the way everything went down — and you really want to get rid of the charge, it’s your best option.
Best case scenario, your excuse is sufficient enough to get the judge to waive the ticket. Also, if you ask for mitigation, you essentially admit guilt but provide a compelling excuse for why you did it. If the judge believes you were, say, rushing to the hospital, he or she might reduce the charge, saving you at least some money, and making it less likely that your insurer will hike up your rates.
And even if you go to trial and lose, the judge is unlikely to increase the cost of the ticket, though you might have to pay court fees.
Attend Traffic School / Defensive Driving Course
Some states will give you the option to prove your willingness to learn. By attending a defensive driving course, you can completely remove the ticket from your record.
“This is not always an option, but if it is, take it,” explains Penny Gusner, a consumer analyst for Insurance.com. “Your ticket will be deferred, and upon proof of course completion the ticket will be dismissed or marked as ‘adjudication withheld.’ Your insurer will never know.”
Still, the states that offer this remedial opportunity typically put a limit on the times you can use it. That’s to say, if you go to traffic school and continue to get speeding tickets, it will no longer be an option. Additionally, prepare to pay a fee to take the class, as well as court or administrative fees that might be attached.
Opt for a Forgiving Insurance Company
Not all companies penalize you the same way after a speeding violation. State Farm, for instance, is considered the best for accident forgiveness. They will hit you with the lowest increase after a speeding ticket.
Below are the rates that major insurers will add to your premium after a speeding violation of 16 to 29 mph, according to Insurance.com:
In the end, the best option is to abide by local speed limits. That way, you can avoid the whole mess in the first place.