A former insurance producer, Laura understands that education is key when it comes to buying insurance. She has happily dedicated many hours to helping her clients understand how the insurance marketplace works so they can find the best car, home, and life insurance products for their needs.

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products, including home, life, auto, and commercial, and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, mainly in the insuranc...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers Insurance CSR 4 Years

UPDATED: Oct 19, 2021

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You are happy because you were pulled over by a police officer and escaped with just a warning. Now, the worry sets in as you wonder how warnings affect your car insurance rates. With only a written warning, there is no effect on your auto insurance rates.

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Most people know that accidents can make your car insurance rates increase. Other issues are not so clear.

What does a warning mean?

The flashing lights in your rearview mirror. You wonder where that patrol car even came from because you don’t remember passing it. Beads of sweat quickly emerge on your forehead as you contemplate paying a huge fine, missing work to spend all day in traffic court, and paying more for your car insurance. You probably already know you have done something wrong and now it is time to face the music.

Perhaps you were driving over the speed limit. Maybe you went through a red light thinking it would stay yellow for a second longer. Possibly, you thought no one would see you blow through that stop sign. You may actually believe you did nothing to attract the officer’s attention.

Whatever the infraction, you are now being pulled over. You spend the next few moments wishing, hoping, thinking, and praying that if you can just get out of this, you will never commit the same offence ever, ever again.

Whether verbal or written, a warning has no effect on your rates but it is an alert about your driving habits. Either way, there will still be some sort of record because the law enforcement officer noted your name and license plate number when they stopped you, even if you don’t receive something on paper. It is helpful to think of warnings as a sign like flashing neon lights blinking the same repetitive message: obey the traffic laws.

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What should you do after receiving a warning?

There are different types of warnings for various situations. For example, if you were stopped for texting while driving, the officer may give you a warning instead of a ticket for a moving violation.

Other times, you might be stopped for something you are required to have in or on the vehicle, such as an expired inspection or a non-working turn signal. In these instances, the officer may simply warn you to handle the issue within a specific timeframe and then come to the police station later to show proof that it has been fixed.

For something like cell phone behavior, you might want to invest in some inexpensive hands-free automotive technology. It will cost a lot less than a ticket. You can find other tips for staying out of trouble from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website.

The second type of warning, sometimes called a fix-it warning, should be obeyed promptly. If not and you are stopped again for the same offense, the officer probably will not be so lenient, especially if a significant period of time has elapsed since original warning. For the record, these can be avoided by keeping your vehicle in good working order. J.D. Power and Associates, an information services company, offers tips on how to tell when something is wrong with your car in their article library.

What else can increase your car insurance premium?

Warnings and accidents are not the only things that can cause your car insurance to go up. In addition to being a safe driver, there are other things you should look out for that could affect your bottom line.

Something as simple as a change of address, even if it’s just across town, can increase your car insurance rate. One of the factors used in determining your car insurance rate is your ZIP code.

People who live in areas deemed high in crime or those living in urban locations typically pay more for their car insurance than residents of suburban or rural places do. Before you make your move, talk to your insurance agent to find out if your new digs might affect your insurance payments.

A new roommate or significant other can also adversely affect your car insurance. If you live with someone who has had their license taken away for drunk driving or suspended due to a horrendous driving record, this can cause an insurance company to raise your payment rate, even if the person is not permitted to drive your vehicle. Although they do not list it as an official reason, some car insurance companies take this information into consideration and use it to determine your rate.

What do points mean?

Simply put, points are like marks on your driving record. Every moving violation is given a number so when you are found guilty, the court or law enforcement agency reports to the motor vehicle department how many points you have received and this is marked on your record.

Each state assigns a different number of points for each different type of violation.

The points you have show up on your driving record when it is time to renew your license or obtain a car insurance quote. It can result in an increased rate or other consequences such as being denied an insurance policy.

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What should you do if you’re pulled over?

Few things are more nerve-wracking than being pulled over by a police officer. The anticipation of a root canal or delivering a speech doesn’t even come close. You may notice that your hands are trembling or find yourself fighting an incredible urge to talk incessantly.

Being nervous is common. However, it is important to calm down, follow the officer’s instructions, and don’t do anything that will make the situation worse.

The first thing to do is to come to a complete stop in a safe spot out of the flow of traffic. Then, turn on the interior light of your car, roll down the driver’s side window, put both hands on the steering wheel and wait.

When the officer approaches, he or she will generally ask for your license, registration, proof of insurance, or all three. Hand these through the window without fanfare. It is ok at this time to inquire about the nature of the violation but you should do so only if you are composed. Getting agitated or combative will not help you.

Remain in your vehicle while the officer verifies your information, unless ordered to do otherwise. Once the police officer returns with your paperwork, they will typically take time then to explain the reason for pulling you over.

Throughout the process, do not get jumpy or make sudden moves, which will only escalate the tension and turn a minor traffic stop into a possible trip to jail, or worse. The most vital thing to keep in mind is that the officer just wants to end the situation and get home to his family. Anything you do that goes in the opposite direction of this is going to be counterproductive.

What’s the difference between a warning and a ticket?

No matter what it says on the piece of paper, receiving something in writing from a police officer is cause for alarm. If there is no action required on your part, consider yourself lucky. You have gotten away with a simple warning. Sometimes the officer will not write anything at all and simply give you a verbal warning.

If you are unsure that the piece of paper you receive is just a warning, you can simply ask the officer who pulled you over. It is quite, common, however, to forget to do this in the heat of the moment. In that case, you can check with the police department in the county where you got the warning. A traffic ticket goes into the system but warning tickets do not, so if there is no record, then it was a warning.

However, if it is more than this, then you have received either a ticket or a citation. This is much more serious and, if not handled properly, can affect your insurance rates for years to come.

When you receive an actual ticket for a traffic violation, you could elect to just pay the fine and get it over with. After all, you were caught red-handed and you need to accept responsibility like an adult. Nevertheless, this is a very expensive decision, with most ticket fines being more than one hundred dollars. In addition, the violation immediately goes on your driving record as an admission of guilt and your car insurance rates may suffer.

An alternative to this choice is going to traffic court to fight the charge. If you are victorious in your effort, your slate is wiped clean, leaving you free to begin that new plan of safer driving that you silently promised in your grip of panic when you were pulled over in the first place. Information on what to do if you receive a ticket can be found from the National Motorists Association at.

On the other hand, if you lose your case, you might be stuck paying not only the original fine but court fees as well. Another option is to consent to taking a special driving class designed to improve your knowledge of road rules. In this case, it is like performing community service for a certain amount of time and consequently, your slate is clean once more. These classes can often be taken online.

You can find information about moving violations and how to find an attorney to help you handle it at TrafficTicketUSA.com.

You may be happy to know that today many auto insurance companies offer a first-time violation forgiveness program. This means that as long as the offense was not too serious, such as a minor accident where a bumper is dented or a citation for following too closely, they agree to overlook it.

There are no hard and fast rules regarding how a minor offense is handled by the responding officer. It is often at the discretion of the state, jurisdiction, or even the officer. Sometimes, your own behavior during the incident can mean the difference between getting a traffic warning ticket and an actual ticket.

How can you save money on car insurance?

Dings on your driving history can cost you when it comes to car insurance, but there are ways to bring your rate down. You can raise your deductible or lower your coverage limits temporarily, but the best way to find save money is to look into insurance discounts.

Many auto insurers offer savings opportunities like the multi-policy discount, good student discount, defensive driving course discount, and discounts for safety features on your vehicle.

If you don’t have a clean driving record and you’re looking for affordable car insurance, the best thing you can do is shop around for quotes. Different auto insurance providers have different prices and different discounts.

FREE information about car insurance rates is available by just typing your ZIP code our search tool found on this page!