Insurance Points Can Cost You Big, But How Much Exactly?
Insurance Q&A: “How much does insurance go up with 1 point?”
Ah, the “insurance point system”…so elusive, so vague. Perhaps even clandestine?
Nonetheless, many states have developed point systems to keep track of individuals’ driving histories, with each infraction assigned a point value depending on its severity.
Your point assignment can be as little as “1,” or as high as a “3,” depending on the infraction and the state in which you reside.
For example, a minor speeding ticket may earn you 1 point, whereas a DUI may earn you 3. In this game, the fewer the points the better. Or you might see an automatic suspension of your driver’s license.
California Point System: 1 Point or 2?
Let’s take a look at California’s point system, which assigns 1-point and 2-point offenses, depending on the severity of the violation.
1-point offenses include:
- Disobeying traffic signs/signals
- Failure to yield to a pedestrian or school bus
- Passing on a double line or making an illegal u-turn
- Child safety restraint violations
- Drug/alcohol offenses
2-point offenses include:
- Reckless driving (somewhat judgemental)
- Evading police
- Driving over 100 mph
- Driving with a suspended or revoked license
- Transporting explosives (seriously)
Note: Those driving commercial vehicles will see the above points worth 1 1/2 times the standard point. e.g. a commercial truck doing 101 mph down the 405 would be hit with 3 points.
Once you know how points are assigned, you have to look at the time frame in which you received the points. The consequences vary based on how many points were received in what period of time.
In California, some or all driving privileges may be revoked/suspended if you:
- Receive 4 points or more within 12 months
- Receive 6 points or more with 24 months
- Receive 8 points or more within 36 months
However, the following violations may result in automatic suspension of your license:
- No insurance at time of an accident
- A DUI conviction
- Drinking and driving while underage
- Missing court for a traffic ticket or other violation
- Refusing a drugs or alcohol test
How Long Do Insurance Points Stay on Your Record?
Again, citing California DMV rules, points can remain on your driving record for as little as 39 months to as long as 10 years. In other words, you’ll want to avoid points like the plague because they can inflate your premium for years.
- 1-point violations: 39 months
- DUI and hit-and-run: 10 years
- Failure to appear in court for any traffic violation: 5 years
- Failure to appear in court for a DUI: 10 years
- Car accidents: 3 years
If possible, consider enrolling in a defensive driving course to keep points from being added to your record. It’s generally an option if you haven’t completed a similar course in the past 18 months.
In other words, if you got speeding ticket last year and took a class to keep the point off your record, you’ll be out of luck the second time around if it hasn’t been at least 18 months.
Either way, the DMV should send you a notice regarding your eligibility along with the deadline to complete the program, shortly after a violation takes place.
How Much Does a Point Raise My Insurance Rate?
Sorry to bum you out even more than you already are, assuming you’ve already got a point on your record, but there is no single dollar amount “surcharge” for 1 point.
We’d love to tell you 1 point = $50 or $100 in additional insurance premium, but it simply doesn’t work that way. Like all things in the insurance realm, it depends on a number of things.
For example, what was your starting rate before the accident? What was the violation for? How old are/we you when the violation took place? What discounts were you receiving for being a good driver? Do you have ticket forgiveness?
There are seemingly endless factors that go into those fancy algorithms used to determine and calculate your car insurance rate, so it can be a bit more complicated.
After all, it wouldn’t be fair to charge one driver the same amount as another person for two completely different violations.
And someone with a history of points will likely be hit a lot harder than a first-time offender. Granted, if it’s your first time there’s a good chance you can erase that point via a driving school class. It’s worth the agony, even if it is tedious.
What’s My Age Again?
If the answer is 16, you’d better quit the school spirit team and pick up a part-time job. Your car insurance is about to go through the roof. You might even see it double depending on a few other factors.
You’re already considered “risky” enough as a teen driver. Add a ticket or an accident to that equation and the insurer has all the proof they’ll need to charge you (or your parents) a ton of extra money.
In California, the points system is more stringent. For example, your license will be suspended if you receive 3 points in 12 months, and restricted if you received 2 points in 12 months.
Now some good news. If you’re slightly longer in the tooth, 50 years old for example, one point may be only a slight surcharge of say five to 10 percent…if that. One of the few frills of being old folks.
Is This the Only Point? Or More?
Your first point may only increase your premium slightly (as noted). But, start adding points to existing points and the extra premium could grow exponentially.
As the points pile up, you continue to increase the statistical chance you’ll file an insurance claim, which will cost the insurance company big bucks. As a result, they’re going to punish you.
Get enough points and you might even lose your license, depending on which state you reside in. Keep that in mind if you have a lead foot. Taking the bus or “going green” on a bicycle may be your only option.
If you received a point recently and are coming up on renewal, or already saw your insurance rate shoot up, consider speaking with an independent agent, one who can shop your rate with scores of insurers all at once to determine who will take you on at the lowest cost.
You may be surprised to find that even after 1 point, your rate could be lower if you switch insurance companies.
Read more: 10 ways to lower your car insurance premium.