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The Unexpected Cost of a Speeding Ticket

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It’s a nightmare shared by every driver: You’re cruising along, maybe in a bit of a hurry. You glance down at the speedometer and notice you’re inching up past 10 miles over the speed limit. You know you should slow down, but you’re running late to meet that cute guy/girl or your grandma for dinner, and anyway, surely you won’t get caught, right?

Then: sirens. Flashing lights in your rearview mirror. A few excuses and a lot of sweating in your seat later, and you’ve got a pink slip of paper in your hand that’s telling you your bad judgment is about to cost you a pretty penny. But what is it not saying?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, as many as 40% of us admit to being “sometime speeders,” and 30% are “speeders” — that means only one-third of us say we never speed. So if two-thirds of us are guilty of this offense, how much does it cost us each year? The National Motorists’ Association estimates that somewhere between 95,000 to 110,000 moving violations are issued daily across the U.S., “the majority of which are speeding tickets, of course,” says John Bowman, communications director of the National Motorists Association. He adds that they estimate the average monetary penalty for a ticket to be around $110 to $135. “Those estimates then peg the national traffic ticket ‘industry’ somewhere between $3.8 billion and $5.4 billion each year,” Bowman says. In other words: A lot of money exchanges hands over a few extra miles per hour.

Unfortunately, the cost of that speeding ticket isn’t merely its face value. It’s not even the sum of the face value and all the time you’ll have to spend with Grandma or that cute date to make it up to them. That ticket could also ratchet up your car insurance rates. We dug into our numbers for you to find out just how much.

How a Speeding Ticket Affects Car Insurance Rates

One speeding ticket resulted in a premium increase of $737 or about 18%.

Two speeding tickets in one year increased the premium by $1,839 or about 34%.

There you have the cold, hard numbers. Our methodology: Using ZIP codes from every state in the country, we ran a mock profile through our car insurance comparison platform. Our fake driver, whom we’ll call Mr. Lead Foot, was male, 40 years old, driving a new-ish nice-ish car and with good credit. First, we ran his rates across ZIP codes from each of the 50 states assuming he had incidents on his record. Then, we added one speeding ticket, and finally a second speeding ticket, to see the effect on his premium. We kept all other factors, including coverage, the same.

It’s good to remember, though, that not all speeding tickets are alike, and non-moving violations are likely to affect your rate less than these numbers. One other tiny bit of silver lining: Your rate likely won’t change immediately, but instead when your current policy expires. Also, these figures will vary from driver to driver and state to state, in addition to from one insurance company to the next. But the fact remains, your driving record is among the major factors influencing your car insurance rates.

How to Keep Your Car Insurance Affordable

It’s especially important to avoid multiple violations in a year in order to maintain a car insurance rate you can afford. Want proof? In our study, we also found that two speeding tickets were more costly for a driver than just one at-fault accident. If you do find yourself with a blotch or two on your record, though, don’t panic. Instead, shop around. Comparing tons of car insurance companies will help find you one that can offer a decent rate, even with a few honest mistakes on file. Also, consider taking a defensive driving course, which can lower your rates as well.

Finally, many insurers use an insurance risk score, which includes your credit history and other information about you, to determine how likely you are to file an insurance claim. That means your credit may ultimately have some impact on your insurance premium, so there’s yet another reason to keep your credit in good standing. If you don’t know what shape your credit is in, you can check your credit report summary for free on Credit.com.

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