Just about everyone needs automobile insurance, and insurance points are something you will want to know about, how to avoid getting them, what do points mean, how they affect your car insurance rates, and how you can get them removed from your driving record if you already have some.
What are Car Insurance Points?
Points are a violation system that the insurance industry uses to evaluate you as a safe driver. They use this system to determine risk and establish insurance rates. If you are quoted an excellent insurance rate then the agent pulls your driving records and finds out you have had multiple violations, your insurance rates will increase. The insurance industry (auto not health insurance) uses their own individual system that is loosely based on your state’s violation system to set insurance premiums.
How do You Accrue Points?
Whenever you incur a traffic violation such as a traffic ticket, cruising through a stop sign or red light, or speeding, you accrue points on your driving record. For more serious traffic violations like reckless driving or distracted driving, texting while driving, DUI/DWI, driving with a suspended license, or car accidents, you accrue even more points. Some non-moving violations like parking tickets may not result in points. If the officer does not report the violation to the state's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), they may never be associated with your driver’s license number.
If you are caught speeding, the faster you are going (the more over the limit), the higher number of points you will be assigned.
How do Points Affect Car Insurance Rates?
Auto insurance providers use a traffic violation point system that is loosely based on the driver’s license system. Although they include these points, they also have other points for things like bad credit, premium default, and other factors that you may not be aware of. Before buying any policy, it is a good idea to check your driving record and ask your insurance agent about their system and how they might affect your rate increase.
Unfortunately, each auto insurance provider has its own set of rules regarding insurance infractions, so after a driving infraction, your insurance may increase, or it may not, depending on their system. Typically, however, insurance rates increase a lot, the more points you have. After several violations, you may also be tagged as a “high-risk driver” and you could end up uninsurable. In this case, you will only be able to purchase costly, high-risk vehicle insurance coverage.
A common question people ask is, “does insurance go up for 3 points?” Yes. In fact, only three points can raise your insurance rates by 50% or more. More than one point may be assigned for severe violations. It depends on your state laws and the insurance you use. How many points raise your insurance? One point may or may not increase your insurance policy rates, but you will see an increase in your insurance once you see two or more points on your driving record.
Some insurance companies offer “forgiveness” programs where they give you a pass on one or two infractions or make you pay a small extra amount for a period of probation then you can request that your rates decrease based on good behavior.
How Long do Points Stay on Your Car Insurance?
How long these points stay on your record depends on the seriousness of the violation, the insurance provider and their rules, and state laws regarding traffic violations. Typically, a car insurance company will look back 2-3 years for any violations. However, if you want to enjoy a discount, they may go back as far as five years to see that your driving history is clean. If the issue was serious as a DUI, or no-fault accident some states require those to stay on your record indefinitely, and those points will remain forever, but the insurance company may drop them after five to ten years.
License Points and Insurance Points are Not the Same Things
Insurance companies use information from your driving record to pull points and find out about your driving habits, but they are not the same thing. You may have more license points than you do on your insurance. It depends on the company and their point system and whether or not the infractions were reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Points do not affect your ability to drive; they are used to assess risk and set rates. License points (if you accrue too many) could result in you losing your license for some time.
States that Do Not Use A Point System
Most states in the United States do have an insurance point system, but there are a few exceptions:
- Rhode Island
These nine states do not use any type of points system for automobile insurance or driving records. However, that does not mean they are not keeping track of your driving history and any violations.
How do I Find My Points?
Before applying for auto insurance, you should get a copy of your driving record and review your points. You can do this in a number of ways. The first is to contact your local DMV office and ask for a copy. Some have online options through their website. If you see any inaccurate information or errors, contact them immediately to get them corrected.
You can also use a third-party resource to check your driving record and look for any traffic violations and accompanying points on your driver's license that might hurt you later. These are often quicker options, but you may have a pay a nominal access fee.
How do I Remove Car Insurance Points from My Insurance?
Perhaps you are wondering, “can a driving course remove insurance points?” The answer is maybe. In many cases, by signing up for a defensive driving course and completing and passing it, you can get those points removed. It will depend on your state, the DMV’s rules, and the availability of such classes in your area. Contact your local DMV to see if they offer a safe driving course that will result in your points being removed. If you have a lot of traffic violations, it might make sense to freshen up on the road rules anyway. You may have to wait until COVID-19 restrictions lift to take your course. Also, check with your insurance commissioner to be sure taking the course will result in your points being removed.