Do points on your license affect your insurance?

Driving violations can make your insurance a lot pricier, but there are still opportunities to save.

Published February 5, 2019

Reckless driving can lead to penalty points on your license, and it can also lead to higher insurance costs. Insurance carriers prefer to insure lower-risk drivers, and the more driving violations, the higher a risk you are, meaning your premiums will likely go up.

Not necessarily because car insurance companies pay attention to the points that your state’s department of motor vehicles hands out — but because of the violations themselves.

But not all types of violations will affect your insurance rates equally, and not all companies treat violations the same way. Here’s how to know if points on your license will mean higher insurance rates for you.

What are points?

Many — but not all — states deploy a points system for driving violations. Different types of violations earn you points, the value of which depends on the severity of the infraction. The points stay on your driving record for a period of time, but exactly how long varies by state. In Texas, for example, all tickets and their associated points stay on your record for three years. In California, most one-point violations are cleared after 39 months but points for more serious violations, like a DUI or a hit-and-run accident, can stay on your record for 10 or more years.

Common point violations in various states include running a red light, speeding above the limit, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol or fleeing the scene of an accident.

The details of points systems vary depending on where you live, but after a certain number of points, you risk having your license suspended or revoked.

How much will points affect my insurance rates?

Generally, the more points you have on your license, the more you’ll pay for insurance. Your car insurance premiums, or the payments you make to keep your insurance policy in force, are determined by a number of factors, including where you live, your age, your credit score and yes, your driving history.

But your insurance carrier won’t necessarily set your rates based on the actual number of points on your license. Instead, they’ll likely take a look at your driving violations and your accident history. The severity of the violations is what will determine how much they’ll affect your insurance premiums. In fact, insurance carriers have their own internal points systems that they’ll use to determine how much to raise your rates due to a violation or accident.

The worse your driving record, the more you’ll likely pay for insurance. In fact, if you’re seen as a high-risk driver, you’ll need to look for coverage options tailored to your needs. High-risk auto insurance will be more expensive than a standard policy, but an independent broker (like a Policygenius expert) can help you compare quotes from different companies and get the best deal despite your record.

What if my license has already been suspended?

If your license has been suspended, which can happen after repeat violations or tickets, you won’t be able to legally drive until you reinstate it. But you should still have car insurance, because having a coverage gap would lead to a rate increase down the line — and it’s also smart to keep your car protected even if you’re not driving it.

Not to mention you’ll need to prove to the state that you have auto insurance in order to be able to drive again. A special form from your insurance called form SR-22 can serve as proof of insurance. But yes, that might cost you a little extra. Learn more about getting and maintaining car insurance with a suspended license here.

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How can I bring my rates back down after a driving violation?

While your rates will probably go up after any driving violations that earn you points on your license, there are ways to help them come back down again. Here are some tips for lowering your insurance premiums:

  • Go back to driving school. Many carriers offer discounts for taking courses that help teach you how to be a safer driver.

  • Shop around. If you feel like you’re paying too much, a Policygenius expert can help you compare quotes from other carriers to make sure you’re getting the best deal for your needs.

  • Wait. Time heals all wounds, and that’s true with car insurance too. Many insurers only care about the most recent five years of your driving history, so if you keep a clean record going forward, your rates may eventually go down again after an accident or violation.

Policygenius’ editorial content is not written by an insurance agent. It’s intended for informational purposes and should not be considered legal or financial advice. Consult a professional to learn what financial products are right for you.