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4 Ways Being Forgetful Can Raise Your Car Insurance Rates

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This post is a part of a series on how your driving behaviors can affect your car insurance rates. You can read the first story How Much Will a Ticket Raise My Car Insurance? here.

Where you parked your car. Replacing the toilet paper roll. Stopping at the store on the way home to grab milk. Heck, why you walked in a room. Chances are, you’ve forgotten something like these examples — likely even during the past week. Despite the vast capacities of the human brain, our memories are fragile and fickle things, and studies have shown that we forget an average of three things each day. Forgetting is a natural part of human existence.

It can also be a dangerous and costly part of our lives, especially when it comes to our automobiles. Is there anything like the sinking feeling of digging for your insurance card after being pulled over, only to realize your card isn’t up to date and you could be ticketed and fined for it? The truth is that your forgetfulness can cost you, both in terms of tickets and those tickets’ impact on your car insurance rates. We examine four common auto-related memory lapses and their impact on your insurance rates.

1. Forgetting Your Registration

Though proof of insurance is not always required at the time of being pulled over, your driver’s license and car registration nearly always is. A bit of clarification, by the way: Registration is not necessarily (and actually shouldn’t be) your car’s title. The title should be kept in a safe place, in case you ever want to sell the vehicle; at that time, you’ll surrender the title as well. Registration, on the other hand, is more about roadworthiness, and is issued by the state where you reside. Though it varies, registration is usually issued on a yearly basis.

Average Hike in Insurance if You’re Issued a Ticket for No Registration: 11%

2. Forgetting Your Driver’s License

If you’ve ever been caught in this particular blunder, you understand how frustrating it can be: a change in purse or jeans can easily lead to you driving without legal proof that you can. And believe it or not, some experts say as many as one in 10 drivers in states like Florida at any moment are driving without a license. Some drivers lose their license for one reason or another, while others simply cannot afford them to begin with. It’s important to note that most states do differentiate between driving without a license because that license has been forgotten at home and not having a driver’s license at all. In many cases, all it takes to dismiss the citation is the presentation of a valid license at the court date.

Average Hike in Insurance if You’re Issued a Ticket for No License: 12%

3. Headlights Out

As your auto mechanic will tell you, it’s incredibly tough to get an idea of just how long you can expect your headlights to last. It depends on how often you use them (we’re looking at you, daytime headlights), in addition to voltage, watts, lumens and other factors. Regardless of how long they last, the truth is it’s never a good time for a headlight to go out. You don’t exactly get a warning ahead of time that your headlights are about to burn out. You need them, and suddenly, they’re gone. And it’s actually quite dangerous to drive with one headlight — even if your other one is on high-beam. DMV.org says that headlight laws actually vary little across the country: No matter which state you live in, you must have two functioning headlights at all times.

Average Hike in Insurance if You’re Issued a Ticket for Headlights Out: 16%

4. Failure to Cancel Turn Signal

We were surprised to find that this particular example of forgetfulness actually bore out the biggest insurance hike of all. Believe it or not, turn signals have only been available to consumers since 1939, and weren’t used widely until the late 1940s. But today, it’s one of the more annoying mishaps on the road: Doesn’t that driver ahead of you hear the clicking of its signal as it barrels down a single lane, making no move to turn? Then, one day, you look down — maybe your music was blaring, maybe you were a bit tired on a long road trip — and realize you’re guilty of the same offense. Though it amounts to nothing more than forgetfulness, unfortunately, leaving your signal on can result in a ticket, and a resulting spike in insurance

Average Hike in Insurance if You’re Issued a Ticket for Failure to Cancel Your Turn Signal: 19%

Finally, in many states, your credit is a factor in determining your car insurance rates. That means if you forget to make a payment on a credit card bill or loan, or even a credit report error, it could have an impact on how much you pay to insure your car. That’s why it’s a good idea to check your credit reports and credit scores regularly for any errors or problems that you need to address. You can get your free credit reports every year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies, and you can get your free credit scores from many sources, including Credit.com, where they’re updated monthly so you can watch for changes.

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