A motor vehicle report (MVR) is like a report card for your driving
It’s a history of any past violations or accidents you’ve had as a driver
Car insurance companies generally look at the past three to five years of your MVR when calculating your rates
There are a number of factors that go into calculating your car insurance rates, including your age, ZIP code, credit score, and the type of car you drive. But one of the most important factors in determining how much you’ll pay for car insurance is your motor vehicle report, or MVR.
Your MVR, which can also stand for motor vehicle record, is a history of your driving behavior, including any accidents or violations. When you apply for car insurance, the insurance companies will take a look at your recent driving history. Any accidents or violations will negatively impact your rates, and too many incidents on your MVR may make it hard to find affordable coverage.
But insurance companies don’t look at your lifetime MVR, they’ll only see the past few years. Here’s what you need to know about how your MVR affects car insurance rates.
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A motor vehicle report is your driving record. It’s a history, maintained by your state’s DMV, of any past accidents or moving violations you’ve had, as well as serious vehicular crimes, like a DUI/DWI conviction.
It also shows basic information about you as a driver, including your name, license number and date of birth. Some of the types of incidents that would appear on your MVR include:
Many states use a point system to track driving violations, with more serious offenses earning you more points. Rack up too many points and you risk having your license suspended or revoked. If your state uses a point system, those points may be listed on your MVR too. To see a copy of your own MVR, find out how to request your MVR in your state.
Every state’s DMV or equivalent department tracks the same kinds of incidents, but different states have different rules about how long they will stay on your MVR.
The good news for most drivers is that accidents and violations don’t stay on your MVR forever. Generally, the more severe the violation, the longer it will stay on your record, but different states have different policies.
In the state of California, for example, the points for moving violations such as making an illegal turn, or driving above the speed limit, will stay on your record for 39 months, or three years and three months. Points for more severe violations, like a hit-and-run or a DUI, will remain on your record for 13 years.
In Illinois, moving violations like speeding or making an illegal turn can stay on your MVR for four to five years, license suspensions remain for a minimum of seven years and alcohol- or drug-related driving offenses stay on for life.
When you order your own MVR, you may find that your state maintains multiple versions of your driver’s record. In Ohio, for example, your unofficial record shows the last two years of accidents or violations, and your driver abstract, which you can access for a $5 fee, shows the past three years of your history.
In New York State, your standard driving record shows the most recent violations while your “lifetime” driving record contains any accidents or violations from your entire driving history.
Worried drivers should breathe a sigh of relief — insurance companies generally look at the past three to five years of your driving history when calculating your rates. In fact, some states, like Massachusetts for example, have laws stipulating that a car insurance company cannot factor in accidents or traffic violations that are from more than a certain number of years ago to determine your rates.
This means that, after a certain amount of time, accidents and violations “fall off” your record when it comes to insurance. One year after a serious violation on your history, you may see high premiums and have trouble finding affordable coverage.
Three years after a serious violation, you may be able to find some car insurance companies that won’t count it when calculating your rates, and ten years after a violation it won’t factor into your car insurance costs at all.
Anna Swartz is a Managing Editor at Policygenius in New York City, and an expert in auto insurance. Previously, she was a senior staff writer at Mic, writing about news and culture. Her work has appeared in The Dodo, AOL, HuffPost, Salon and Heeb.
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