Sunday, June 17, 2012
Traffic Violations and Insurance Rates
Traffic violations in Ontario can be major, minor or criminal offences. The severity of the infraction can make a significant difference in how your insurance rates are affected, as well as in the legal consequences. Minor offences are the less serious ones and usually result in a fine. Major offences can be much more serious, resulting in heavy fines, license suspensions and possible jail sentences.
Minor violations are the most frequent kind of traffic offences, and have less impact both legally and on the driver’s insurance rates. They are chargeable on your insurance for three years from the date you are convicted (not from the date you are ticketed), and some carry a sizeable fine, too.
The most frequent minor infractions are speeding—though when exceeding the speed limit by over 50 kph, it becomes major--running red lights or stop signs, failure to obey traffic signs, and tailgating. Others include improper turning, improper passing, obstruction of traffic, unnecessarily slow driving and driving with your view obstructed.
Minor offences differ in their impact on your insurance premiums. Not all will result in a rate hike, but that varies from insurer to insurer. It’s useful to contact your insurance agent after you’ve been ticketed to find out what to expect on your premiums. But if you are hit with an increase, it won’t take effect until you renew your coverage.
Parking violations and driving with a broken taillight are minor offences that are unlikely to affect insurance rates, as they are not usually regarded as moving violations and therefore do not concern the insurer.
Major violations are considered to be more serious, as they are more likely to result in an injury to another driver or a pedestrian. They include speeding (when driving above 50 km/h), speeding in a school zone, passing a school bus, failing to report an accident and driving without auto insurance coverage.
Insurers take a dim view of major violations. They show that a driver is a higher claims risk and should, accordingly, pay higher premiums. A major offence remains on a driver’s record just as long--three years--as a minor one when it comes to insurance premiums. However, the premium rise is generally higher in the case of a major violation.
Major offences also have more severe legal repercussions. The offender could be hit with heavier fines and in some cases may even face a possible jail sentence. Offences that carry a criminal record include driving with a blood alcohol level over .08, careless driving, criminal negligence, dangerous driving, driving with a suspended license, racing and motor manslaughter.
For these types of convictions, the Facility Association of Ontario, which provides coverage to drivers who can’t qualify in the voluntary insurance market, will increase premiums by 100%.
Avoiding rate hikes
Keep in mind that being cited for more than one violation is a sure way to have your auto insurance rates rise. Two minor violations can be more damaging than one major violation. Statistically, if you have received a speeding ticket, there is a 20% chance that you will receive another ticket within the three year period. If you’re hit with three speeding tickets, you will be charged "high risk insurance rates" of thousands of dollars per year, for at least three years. So it’s best to learn from the error and not repeat it.
To check which offences are considered major, minor and criminal, consult http://www.insurancehotline.com/driving-convictions-list/.
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