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Ticket Forgiveness (How To Avoid a Rate Increase)

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Shuman Roy is an entrepreneur, business owner, and musician. He started RoysNoys, LLC in 2013 as a music production and education service company. He also offers small business consulting and advisory services to help businesses get from start-up mode to turn-key operations. Shuman earned his M.B.A from the Stern School of Business in 2001...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity-backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency...

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Reviewed byJoel Ohman
Founder, CFP®https://res.cloudinary.com/quotellc/image/upload/insurance-site-images/truthaboutins-live/2020/03/joel-ohman.jpg

UPDATED: May 26, 2020

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Car Insurance Speeding Statistics
Key InfoFrom Experts...
Speeding is the most common traffic violationOxford Legal
1 in 6 drivers will get a speeding ticket every yearLawFirms.com
Drivers between the ages of 17 and 24 receive the greatest number of ticketsLawFirms.com
A single speeding ticket could raise your insurance rates between 11% and 20%Quadrant
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You may be aware that your driving record is one of the factors that are part of how car insurance rates are determined. What do we mean by this? Essentially, if you have incidents like accidents or traffic citations on your record, some insurance companies offer “forgiveness” programs like accident forgiveness and ticket forgiveness, or amnesty, that can save you money in the long run.

So what is ticket amnesty? How do you get it? Is it worth it? These are just a few of the questions that may have led you here. We know finding the answers can be frustrating, but not to worry, that’s why we’re here. Take a few minutes to read through this article to learn everything you need to know about ticket forgiveness so you can decide whether or not it’s right for you.

Not every insurance company charges the same amount for a ticket. Just enter your ZIP code and get a free quote on car insurance to see which company has the best rates for you.

Ticket Forgiveness & Auto Insurance

What is ticket forgiveness? Take a look at the next few sections to find out what this program is and why you might want to add it to your policy.

How does ticket forgiveness work?

How can a ticket be dismissed? Ticket forgiveness is basically insurance for your car insurance. That may sound confusing, but it’s a simple concept.

What we mean is, for an additional premium, your insurer will “forgive” you if you receive a ticket while insured with them. By “forgive,” they mean they will not increase your rates for receiving the ticket (which is the typical response when an insurance company checks your driving record and finds a traffic citation).

Is ticket forgiveness worth it?

Only you can decide whether or not purchasing ticket forgiveness is right for you. Having a program to help pay traffic tickets can be a worthwhile thing, but is the cost worth it? We’ve spent a little time researching statistics and providing examples to help you make an informed decision about this kind of program.

Essentially, the hope is that the additional cost to you (by purchasing ticket forgiveness coverage) is much less than what you’d end up paying in increased insurance rates if you received a ticket and didn’t have the program on your policy.

Here’s an example of how the amnesty program works: Let’s say ticket forgiveness costs an extra five dollars per month. This would mean you’d be paying an additional $60 per year for insurance coverage (which would be a total of $180 over three years). To continue this example, we’ll say that a ticket on your record would cause your insurance to increase by $200 per year for three years, totaling an additional $600 you’d pay in insurance rates over the next three years.

Based on this example, for a single ticket, you’d save 80 percent on additional costs by purchasing three years of ticket forgiveness. To translate this into more real-world numbers, we’ll take a look at the true cost of that speeding ticket. First off, let’s consider whether or not you’re likely to get a traffic citation.

Data indicates that one in six drivers are ticketed for a driving violation each year. That’s a pretty high rate! With this statistic in mind, it seems likely that you’ll receive at least one or two traffic citations at some point during the years you’re behind the wheel. So now that you know there’s a good chance you’ll get a ticket eventually, how much does insurance go up after a ticket?

To find out, we’ve compared average rates across the country for a clean driving record to a record with one speeding violation. Take a look at this table to see what we found.

Average Annual Car Insurance Rates by Driving Record
CompaniesClean recordWith one speeding violation
USAA$1,933.68$2,193.25
Geico$2,145.96$2,645.43
American Family$2,693.61$3,025.74
Nationwide$2,746.18$3,113.68
State Farm$2,821.18$3,186.01
Progressive$3,393.09$4,002.28
Travelers$3,447.69$4,260.80
Farmers$3,460.60$4,079.01
Allstate$3,819.90$4,483.51
Liberty Mutual$4,774.30$5,701.26
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As you can see, for all of the major insurers, it’s likely that even with a single speeding ticket, you’ll see an increase in your rates. In fact, the company with the lowest rate increase (by percentage) is American Family, with an increase of about 11 percent, while Travelers increases their rates by an average of 19 percent for a single speeding ticket.

Please note that these are national averages; rates and rate increase will vary depending on a number of factors including the state in which you live, how egregious the speeding violation is, the age of the driver, previous driving history, and more.

Without ticket forgiveness, you may end up paying a higher insurance rate for between three and five years before the ticket will no longer be relevant to your insurer.

And this assumes that you have no other traffic violations during that three-to-five-year period that could increase your rates even more or extend the current increase (recall that one in six drivers will be cited every year, so there’s a good chance you’ll be cited again at some point).

While we don’t have actual specific rates for the cost of ticket forgiveness (you’ll need to speak to your insurance agent about this), based on the information we’ve presented that we do have, a ticket forgiveness program may be worth considering.

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How do I qualify for ticket forgiveness?

Using our previous example, insurance companies would lose about $420 in premiums over the course of three years by offering ticket forgiveness. This may not immediately make sense, but like most factors when it comes to insurance companies and your policy, it comes down to risk.

Ultimately, they are banking on you paying for ticket forgiveness and not needing it. In general, drivers will need to have a clean driving record to qualify for the program. And most companies require your driving record to have been clean for a set amount of time that varies from company to company, though at a minimum it will usually be between three and five years. So, if you’ve only had a clean record for 18 months, for example, you may not qualify.

Additionally, not every insurance company offers ticket forgiveness. If you’re interested in adding this to your policy, you’ll need to speak with your insurance agent to find out if it is offered, and if so, what the exact requirements are.

Which companies have ticket forgiveness?

Since companies change their rules regularly, it’s always a good idea to check directly. A company that had ticket forgiveness in 2019 may not offer it for 2020. While they don’t have first ticket forgiveness, Progressive does state that your first ticket might not cause a rate increase. At Farm Bureau, a speeding ticket will likely increase your rates.

At Allstate, ticket forgiveness isn’t listed as an option, although they do have accident forgiveness available. With AAA, a speeding ticket or an accident are both likely to increase your rates.

AS you can see, ticket forgiveness is still fairly hard to find, but there are other ways to avoid a rate increase.

What are my options to avoid a rate increase?

First, you should talk to your insurance agent to find out how much insurance goes up after a ticket with that company. If the increase is close to how much you’ll pay in ticket forgiveness, it may not be worth purchasing. You can also shop around to find out which carriers have the best rates for drivers with a ticket on their record. Even with a speeding ticket, insurance doesn’t have to be expensive. You might even find an insurer with a lower premium after your ticket than your current carrier charges without the ticket, no “ticket forgiveness” necessary.

Enter your zip code below to view companies that have cheap auto insurance rates.

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Auto Insurance & Traffic Citations

Now that you know what ticket forgiveness is, your likelihood of being cited for a traffic violation, the basic qualifications for purchasing ticket forgiveness, and how much a ticket might affect your rates if you don’t have ticket forgiveness, we’ll spend a little bit of time discussing those pesky traffic violations in more detail.

Read on to learn more about what you’re most likely to get cited for and where, what to do at a traffic stop, and more.

What are the most common kinds of traffic violations?

While you already know that speeding is the number one type of traffic violation in the country, there are several others that are quite common.

As you can see, common traffic tickets include the following:

  • Speeding – We’ve already discussed this one; the severity of the citation may vary depending on where and when the offense occurred, as well as just how fast you were going.
  • Running a red light – This is fairly straightforward; if you run a red light rather than stopping, you run the risk of being cited.
  • Driving without a license – If you’re caught driving without a license, not only will you be required to pay the cost of the citation, but you’ll also likely be required to pay additional fees in order to get your license reinstated.
  • Driving without a seat belt – This is also fairly straightforward, as every state in the country (except New Hampshire) requires anyone in a moving vehicle to be seat-belted.
  • Driving without insurance – Every state in the country requires drivers to maintain some level of minimum liability coverage in order to legally drive on the road; without it, you’ll risk being cited and possibly having your license suspended.

What is minimum liability coverage? Take a look at this video to find out more.

Where am I most likely to get a ticket?

Regardless of where you live in the United States, there are traffic laws you’re required to obey. If you don’t, you run the risk of being cited (depending on the violation and whether or not you have a history of reckless driving, you may even risk your license being suspended). However, there are some states in which you’re more likely to get a citation than others. The highlighted states below are the 10 states with the highest citation frequencies.

If you live in one of these states, it may be worth considering ticket forgiveness, simply because your chances of needing it are higher.

Who is most likely to get a ticket?

You know that on average, one in six drivers will get a traffic citation every year, but are there demographics more prone to being cited than others? We did some research and found that drivers between the ages of 17 and 24 have the highest chance of receiving a traffic citation. This shouldn’t be too much of a surprise, given that this age group is typically the least experienced on the road. This also supports the common assumption that younger drivers pay more for insurance than older, more experienced drivers. But is this true?

Take a look at this table to find out.

Average Annual Car Insurance Rates by Marital Status, Age, and Gender
CompaniesMarried 60-year-old femaleMarried 60-year-old maleMarried 35-year-old femaleMarried 35-year-old maleSingle 25-year-old femaleSingle 25-year-old maleSingle 17-year-old femaleSingle 17-year-old male
USAA$1,449.85$1,448.98$1,551.43$1,540.32$1,988.52$2,126.14$4,807.54$5,385.61
State Farm$1,873.89$1,873.89$2,081.72$2,081.72$2,335.96$2,554.56$5,953.88$7,324.34
Progressive$1,991.49$2,048.63$2,296.90$2,175.27$2,697.73$2,758.66$8,689.95$9,625.49
American Family$1,992.92$2,014.38$2,202.70$2,224.31$2,288.65$2,694.72$5,996.50$8,130.50
Travelers$2,051.98$2,074.41$2,178.66$2,199.51$2,325.25$2,491.21$9,307.32$12,850.91
Nationwide$2,130.26$2,214.62$2,360.49$2,387.43$2,686.48$2,889.04$5,756.37$7,175.31
Geico$2,247.06$2,283.45$2,302.89$2,312.38$2,378.89$2,262.87$5,653.55$6,278.96
Grand Total$2,256.77$2,321.85$2,463.17$2,455.52$2,728.82$2,897.33$7,490.91$8,816.41
Farmers$2,336.80$2,448.39$2,556.98$2,557.75$2,946.80$3,041.44$8,521.97$9,144.04
Allstate$2,913.37$2,990.64$3,156.09$3,123.01$3,424.87$3,570.93$9,282.19$10,642.53
Liberty Mutual$3,445.00$3,680.53$3,802.77$3,856.84$3,959.67$4,503.13$11,621.01$13,718.69
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As you can see, 17-year-old drivers do pay the most for insurance. While we don’t have data for the entire age range between 17 and 24, we can extrapolate that people of these ages pay the highest rates in insurance, because even at 25 (which is the next youngest age we have data on), the insurance rates are higher than any other age group (though still lower than what 17-year-old drivers pay).

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What do I do if I’m stopped by the police?

If you’re stopped by law enforcement for a traffic violation, there are some basic steps you can take to help make the experience slightly less scary. And since you’re likely to end up in a traffic stop at some point, it’s a good idea to be prepared.

Some recommendations include:

  • Stay calm, and open your windows (depending on which side of the road you’re on, the officer may choose to come to the driver or passenger side of the vehicle).
  • Turn off your vehicle.
  • Keep your hands visible and on the steering wheel.
  • Speak politely and respectfully, regardless of whether you agree with the reason you were stopped.
  • Follow all instructions from the officer.

Take a look at this video to learn what law enforcement officers in Detroit recommend for drivers at a traffic stop.

Does ticket forgiveness protect my driving record?

While ticket forgiveness will prevent your insurance rates from increasing due to a traffic citation, it will not stop the ticket from showing up on your driving record. This means it can still count against your overall record, as well as the points on your driver’s license if your state has a point allocation system for traffic violations.

The practice of assigning points to various traffic violations is intended to discourage reckless driving because if you end up with too many points associated with your driver’s license, your license will be suspended.

Take a look at this video to find out more about an example of this kind of program in North Carolina.

Ticket Forgiveness: The Bottom Line

Ticket forgiveness essentially provides coverage in the event you get a traffic citation. It does not prevent the citation from appearing on your driving record, but it does ensure that your insurance rate won’t increase as a result. Only you can decide if the cost of ticket forgiveness coverage is worth it. You’ll need to speak to your insurance agent to learn more.

You can save even if you have a speeding ticket. Before you leave us, take a second to enter your ZIP code and get a free quote on car insurance!

Frequently Asked Questions: Ticket Forgiveness

Still have questions about ticket forgiveness? Read through these frequently asked questions to get some more answers.

#1 – How do I get a ticket off my record?

If you’ve already been cited and paid the fine, there is little you can do to remove the ticket from your record. However, you do have some options when you’ve been cited but haven’t been to court or paid the fine yet. These include:

  • In some states, you may have the option of taking a defensive driving class in lieu of paying for your ticket (assuming you pass). However, this is not an option across the entire U.S. You’ll need to speak with your local department of motor vehicles (DMV) to find out if your state offers this option.
  • You can ask to delay or defer your ticket for a set amount of time. If the court agrees, this can sometimes mean that if you are able to drive citation-free for the designated time period, your ticket will be dismissed or reduced.
  • You can contest the ticket, which means you plead not guilty and argue the grounds of the ticket either on your own or with the help of a lawyer, but either way you’ll need to be prepared with a strong case, because if you lose, you’ll not only pay your traffic citation but also the court and lawyer costs.

If you do choose to give one of these options a shot, keep in mind you may still end up with the ticket on your record.

#2 – Do states offer traffic forgiveness programs?

Can you get your first speeding ticket dismissed? Maybe. Some states do or have offered traffic amnesty programs. However, they differ by state, are typically temporary, and may not actually remove the ticket from your record. You can get a form of ticket forgiveness in Michigan by taking a safe driver course, but only if it’s your first ticket.

For example, residents of Indiana are fortunate because drivers with currently unpaid traffic citations may be eligible for an amnesty program that reduces the cost of the fines. The program is active through 2020. However, in this case, it does not remove the citations from the record altogether, so the effect on insurance rates may remain the same.

California, by contrast, instituted a temporary ticket amnesty program that closed in 2017 that allows residents to clear their record at no-cost and without assistance from insurance.

#3 – How long does it take for a ticket to show up on my driving record?

Ultimately this depends on a number of factors, starting with you. If you choose to just pay the fine, the ticket will show up on your record more quickly than if you decide to go to court to contest the ticket.

Once you’ve either paid the fine or contested the ticket (and lost), then it’s in the court’s hands to report the ticket to your local DMV. Once they do so (and the timing can vary), the ticket is officially on your record.

However, this does not necessarily mean your insurance company is aware of the change in your record. The DMV does not automatically notify insurers of changes to a person’s driving record. Instead, insurance companies must make a request to check driving records for their insureds, which they typically only do during a regularly scheduled records pull, if a policy needs to be renewed, or if the driver chooses to make a policy change.

#4 – Can I get my first speeding ticket dismissed?

As we noted above, you have a few options for getting your ticket dismissed. If it’s your first offense, and if you show up to court, you may get lucky and have the judge dismiss your ticket, but this is not guaranteed.

To find out how to get a speeding ticket off your record you will have to investigate the process in your home state.

#5 – How long will a ticket stay on my record?

This depends on your state but could range anywhere between three and 10 years on average. In addition, the severity of the citation will be a determining factor. A speeding ticket will probably be on your record for less time than a more serious infraction, but again, the exact time frames vary by state.

#6 – What is the difference between moving & non-moving violations?

As we previously discussed, you know you can be cited for a number of things, which are categorized as either moving or non-moving violations. So what’s the difference?

Moving violations are exactly what they sound like; violations that occur when a vehicle is in motion. In contrast, non-moving violations may or may not occur when a vehicle is in motion. In general, non-moving violations are those that are related to paperwork, equipment, parking, etc.

References:

      1. https://www.lawfirms.com/resources/traffic-tickets/traffic-basics-and-statistics/guide-traffic-tickets-us.htm
      2. https://www.legalmatch.com/law-library/article/how-to-handle-a-traffic-stop.html
      3. https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/free-books/beat-ticket-book/chapter1-1.html
      4. https://traffic.findlaw.com/traffic-tickets/traffic-tickets-basics.html
      5. https://www.indy.gov/activity/traffic-amnesty-program
      6. https://www.courts.ca.gov/trafficamnesty.htm?rdeLocaleAttr=en

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