How Long Does a Traffic Violation Stay on Your Insurance Record?

Man using smartphone at roadside after traffic accident
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If you’ve been the cause of an auto accident or have racked up a few speeding tickets, you may be wondering if and how these mistakes affect your driving record. Most states have clear and open rules regarding how such infractions affect your driver’s license status, and racking up too many may cause your driver’s license to be suspended or revoked. However, your driver's license record is not the same as your car insurance record. The state can view your driver's license points differently than your car insurance carrier.


What Affects the Length of Time a Traffic Violation Stays on Your Record?

Most people know a traffic ticket means higher car insurance rates, but do you know how long the unpleasant rate increase will last?

  • The Insurance Carrier: Violations are not handled the same way between each insurance carrier. Some insurance carriers may only go back two years for minor violations, while others might go back three years from the incident. Most insurance carriers offer the good driver discount after no accidents or violations for five years, and some even offer accident forgiveness if you’re generally a safe driver.
  • The Type of Traffic Violation: The type of traffic violation you received can affect the amount of time your ​insurance carrier surcharges your policy. Careless driving and driving under the influence are a couple of the worst offenses. Five years can pass for those to clear your record with preferred insurance carriers. Most insurance carriers can see your entire driving history, but insurance carriers typically only surcharge for points occurring in the last five years.​​

    Don't feel like calling and asking your car insurance agent? Try checking your declaration page for detailed information about traffic violations and their resulting penalties. You could also call your insurance carrier's customer service number. It might feel a little more discreet when talking to someone at a call center versus your agent with whom you might have a closer relationship.

    Consider Violation Forgiveness

    More and more insurance carriers are offering violation and accident forgiveness. You often pay extra for the coverage, but it protects you against a rate increase in case of a minor traffic violation. Once your record is clear, look into getting violation forgiveness. It often runs only a couple dollars a month more, depending on your record.

    The violation will surely fall off eventually. If you’ve recently racked up an infraction, make sure to maintain an active policy. Many drivers fall into the trap of thinking ​​that going without car insurance is the cheapest route. However, being caught driving without car insurance, especially in an accident, can be financially ruinous for most drivers—not to mention illegal in most states. Many people who make this unfortunate choice do not realize the extremely expensive high-risk rates that drivers with no prior car insurance policy pay once they do try to buy insurance.

    If you keep your car insurance policy active and drive safely, rest assured that your traffic violations eventually come off of your record.