Most people would agree that getting a traffic ticket is expensive, but they often think that primarily because of the associated fine. While that’s definitely part of what makes a ticket pricey, there’s another factor to consider that could leave you paying for your ticket — quite literally — for years afterward.
It’s your car insurance. The Texas Department of Insurance puts it succinctly, saying, “Insurance companies will charge you more if you’ve had accidents or gotten tickets.” That’s because a ticket tells your insurance company that you’re a riskier driver, making you more susceptible to accidents. Accidents mean they’ll have to pay more, and they pass some of that cost onto you in the form of a rate hike.
So let’s be straightforward here: yes, a ticket will almost definitely raise your car insurance rate in Texas. But that’s only true if you don’t do anything about it. In some cases, you might be able to take steps to get the ticket dismissed and, as a result, keep your car insurance premium at its current level.
Let’s look at two separate areas here: how much a ticket would raise your Texas car insurance rates and how to avoid that rate hike.
Texas drivers hit with something as simple as a speeding ticket could see a minimal premium increase — but they could also see their rate climb up by more than 30%. On average, if you’re over 25, you should probably budget to pay about 10% more for your insurance after getting a ticket.
Drivers under 25, you don’t get special privileges. It’s just that you already pay much more than the average driver for insurance, so your rate increase isn’t as significant.
Usually, driving offenses fall off your record within 3 to 5 years. That means that unless you take action after your ticket, you can expect that rate increase to stick around for at least a few years.
In some cases, you might be able to do a simple thing to get your Texas traffic ticket dismissed. If the ticket is dismissed in time, your insurance provider may never know about it, which can protect you from a rate increase.
So what’s the thing that could help you avoid paying hundreds more for your car insurance policy? Completing a state-approved defensive driving course.
The course is just six hours long, can cost as little as $25, and you can take it online. But there’s a catch. You need the court’s permission to take it in order to get your ticket dismissed. (We give you more info about determining your eligibility for the class in our guide to Texas ticket dismissals.)
Assuming the court says you can take the driving course to get your ticket dismissed, act on it fast. If you complete the course, properly report it to the court, and get the ticket off your record before your insurance provider pulls your record — something most companies only do once or twice a year — you might be able to keep them in the dark.
With the ticket off your driving record, your insurance company may never know about the driving infraction and, more importantly, that they had a reason to increase your Texas car insurance rates.