Getting a traffic ticket, either in Massachusetts or another state, typically results in fines and fees. It can also increase your car insurance rates. Here’s why a traffic ticket may increase your auto insurance rates, along with what you can do to minimize the ticket impact on your premiums.
How Will My Massachusetts Car Insurance Rates Be Affected by a Traffic Ticket?
Massachusetts Uses a Point System
Massachusetts’ Registry of Motor Vehicles, like many states’ motor vehicles departments, uses a points system to track driving violations and assess penalties. Points are assigned for violations, and penalties accrue as a driver's’ points increase. In short, the points are like score in golf -- the lower a driver’s points, the better.
The Registry of Motor Vehicles assign points for the following surchargeable events:
Minor traffic violations (e.g. speeding, which is 2 points)
Major traffic violations (e.g. driving under the influence, which is 5 points)
Minor at-fault accidents (i.e. accidents with claims between $500 and $2,000, which are 3 points)
Major at-fault accidents (i.e. accidents with claims exceeding $2,000, which are 4 points)
Tickets Increase Points and Car Insurance Rates
Tickets for moving violations are generally surchargeable event and, therefore, normally add points to your license. As a result, your auto insurance rates will likely go up. How much your premiums increase depends on the violation and how many points (if any) are already on your license. In most cases, the increase lasts for three years.
While a ticket for a moving violation will almost certainly increase your auto insurance premiums, there are several ways to combat any potential rate increase.
Fight Your Ticket in Court
Your first option is to fight your ticket in court. If you’re able to get the ticket reduced to a non-moving violation or thrown out, then your premiums likely won’t be affected by the incident. Even getting a ticket reduced to a lower moving violation can greatly reduce how much your auto insurance rates go up.
You may even want to hire a lawyer to help you build your legal defense against the ticket. Hiring a lawyer may seem like a pricey proposition. If they’re able to get your ticket dismissed, though, you might save more on future car insurance premiums than you pay them.
Take a Defensive Driving Course
Your next-best strategy is likely to take a defensive driving course. Enrolling in an approved defensive driving course might help you in front of a judge. (In some cases, a judge may make taking a course compulsory.) Even if it doesn’t help you in traffic court, though, taking a defensive driving course will probably help reduce your auto insurance rates.
Most insurers offer discounts to drivers who complete approved defensive driving courses. These discounts are typically offered as a percentage, and their frequently a significant percentage.
Since such discounts are normally offered as a percentage, drivers who have higher premiums stand to benefit more from taking a course than those who have lower premiums. If your rates increase, a percentage discount will save you even more than it would before your traffic ticket.
Work with an Independent Agent
Your final (and sometimes best) strategy is to work with an independent insurance agent to compare your current car insurance policy with other ones that are available. Most insurers will increase your premiums once there are points added to your license, but how much they raise your rates will likely vary. An independent agent can help you request and compare quotes from multiple insurance companies that serve Massachusetts, so you can find an insurer who will offer you an affordable policy even after your traffic ticket.