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Are Car Insurers Gouging Us Over Speeding Tickets?

Are Car Insurers Gouging Us Over Speeding Tickets? post image

No one enjoys getting stopped by a cop for speeding.

It’s embarrassing. It also defeats the purpose of speeding in the first place. You sit by the side of the road, twiddling your thumbs, watching the minutes tick by. This is the opposite of “speeding” to your destination.

Plus the ticket. According to U.S. Highway Patrol data cited by Statistic Brain, Americans pony up $6 billion for speeding tickets every year — an average of $150 per violation.

And your insurance company wants its cut as well.

Costly Rules of the Road

A recent study by Bankrate (RATE) subsidiary insuranceQuotes.com reveals how much you can expect your insurer to ding you for violating traffic rules.

Crunching insurance data on a hypothetical 45-year-old married, college-educated, employed female with a clean driving record and excellent credit, driving a 2012 sedan when caught for speeding, IQ discovered that a single moving violation can raise a driver’s insurance premium by as little as 21 percent (for speeding 15 mph or less over the limit) — or by as much as 82 percent, for speeding to such an extent as to constitute “reckless driving.”

Other violations and the financial hit examined by IQ include:

  • Seat belt violation — 5 percent hike to insurance premium on average.
  • Driving solo in the HOV lane — 18 percent.
  • Failure to signal a turn or lane change — 19 percent.
  • Tailgating — 19 percent.
  • Driving drunk — 93 percent.

These higher rates can stick around for as long as three years after you get caught.

Speed Trap!

Surprisingly, these rate hikes aren’t even the worst news. The really bad news may be this: The insurance companies appear to be using traffic violations as an excuse to hike rates — perhaps even more than necessary.

For years, we’ve been telling you about how insurance companies have been hiking rates in response to a weak stock market and low returns on their bond investments. Insurers depend on the profits from investing their premiums to raise money to pay out insurance claims down the road. When those investment gains don’t materialize, though, the insurers must raise money by raising premiums.