Laura Berry is a former State Farm insurance producer and insurance expert.

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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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Important facts to know...

  • Insurance companies will run each driver’s driving record before a new policy is issued with its final rate
  • The purpose of running a driving record is to assess your history on the road to determine if you’re a risky driver
  • If undisclosed tickets and accidents show up, your rate could change or you could be denied coverage
  • After your policy is issued, your insurer won’t check your record again during your current term
  • Most insurers will run your record at every renewal but the company could skip terms to avoid paying fees

Your driving record speaks volumes about how responsible you are behind the wheel. When you request an abstract to provide information to an insurance company for pricing estimates, what shows up is a lot like what would show up on a high school transcript.

If your report is clear, it’s just like getting straight A’s in school. Having blemishes on your report shows that you’ve made some poor choices in the past as a driver.

If there was no way for an insurer to verify your driving record you could easily get away with saying that you have a clear record free of blemishes.

No matter what your driving record looks like, the best way to find the best rate on car insurance is to compare quotes side-by-side. Enter your zip code into our free rate comparison tool above to get started.

Every insurance company runs your motor vehicle report before ever even entering into a contract with their applicants. If you’re worried about what’s going to show up on your record, here’s information on how often records are pulled:

Why are driving records so important to insurance providers?

Your rates are based entirely on your risk profile. If you fall into a high-risk group, you have been deemed likely that you will file a claim.

There’s also a preferred risk group for the safest drivers and a standard risk group. How your base rates fluctuate after personal information is considered is dependent on where you fall.

Insurance companies wouldn’t be able to charge you based on your risk if they didn’t have any type of evidence to assess.

You can answer personal questions but those answers don’t carry much weight unless the information given is verifiable.

Each entry on your driver record paints a picture for the insurer showing them what your driving past looks like. If you have a lot of traffic violations or accidents on your record, you might be considered a high-risk driver. When this occurs, your insurance premiums go up.

Those with clean driving records always pay the lowest rates.

If you have infractions on your record, it’s not the end of the world. The insurance company will evaluate the type of violation and assess your rate accordingly. Minor violations like speeding will raise your rate, but not as much as a DUI or reckless driving charge.

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What other factors do insurance companies consider when setting rates?

In addition to your driving record, auto insurers will consider your age, gender, marital status, location, and credit score when setting your rates. These factors are all part of your risk level, and there is statistical evidence to back up the perceived risk, though it may seem discriminatory.

For instance, male drivers often pay more than female drivers because they are statistically more likely to get into an accident or get a speeding ticket or other violation.

Those with poor credit scores are also statistically more likely to file a claim. Some states have banned insurance companies from considering a person’s credit-based insurance score, but these states are in the minority. Your credit history is ultimately considered to be evidence of how responsible you are.

If you have a bad driving record or poor credit, it’s going to adversely affect your auto insurance cost. If have an exceptionally bad driving history, you might have trouble securing an auto insurance policy from a standard insurer. High-risk auto insurance can be very expensive.

Make sure to look for auto insurance discounts. Most major insurers offer a variety of discounts, including the safe driver discount, good student discount, multi-policy discount (for bundling an auto policy with homeowners insurance or renters insurance), automatic payments discount, and the defensive driving course discount.

Getting one or more of these discounts can significantly lower your premium costs.

How do insurance agents check your driving record?

Insurance agents who give quotes may not even run your driving record when you’re soliciting a basic quote. Some agents are given access to Motor Vehicle Report request tools and others aren’t.

If the agent doesn’t have your license number but is able to give you a quote, this is a sign that your driving abstract hasn’t been considered yet.

Agents commonly submit your application for coverage without yet running your report. When the application reaches the underwriting department, the underwriter will review the information and run the report.

They will either use a system through the Department of Motor Vehicles or they will run a nationwide search through a system like LexisNexis.

Whose driving records are ordered?

If there’s more than one driver on your policy, you don’t have to worry about just your driving record and how it will impact your rates.

Insurance companies run driving history reports for each and every driver that’s on the policy. It doesn’t matter if the person has been licensed for 10 years or one year, the driving report is still important.

If a driver is rated on the policy, the report will be run, but there is always exceptions to every rule. The exception, in this case, is when you have a deferred operator on your application.

A deferred operator is someone who lives in the home but doesn’t have access to your vehicle. People in the home with their own insurance also fit the definition of deferred operator.

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What happens when something comes up on the record?

If a record of a citation comes up on your report that you have already disclosed to your agent, it shouldn’t be a problem.

The problem arises when you don’t disclose the ticket or accident at all and the information that’s used to set your rates has to be changed. This is called a misquote in the industry.

One of the consequences of a misquote is that your premium will change. It could change because you’re being surcharged for a new citation or it could change because you’re losing discounts for being accident and violation-free.

Whatever the reason, you’ll wind up paying more than you thought for the insurance that you just signed up for.

The worst-case scenario after a ticket or accident appears on your record would be that you could be declined the extension of coverage because you were in a high-risk class that the insurer doesn’t accept.

This situation can only happen when you have just applied for your coverage and your policy is still in the 60-day underwriting phase. Many agents don’t tell you this, but there are no guarantees that your policy will be issued after the binding period.

Can insurers run your driving record during your term?

If you were forthcoming on your application and everything checks out fine, your policy will be issued with the final rate up to two months after the paperwork was all turned in.

When you aren’t yet convicted of a violation, it’s not chargeable under the policy. If you’ve been cited, that charge will be in limbo until the next renewal.

Luckily for you, insurance companies can’t run your driving record during the term even if they suspect that you’ve been issued a ticket. The insurance company is always given time to check out applications and back out on agreements.

After that period ends, the insurer must fulfill their end of the deal until the term is up without adding another surcharge to the rate.

What happens when you add a driver to your auto policy?

Insurance companies don’t run driving records during a term except for when a new driver is added to an existing policy.

Since you’re voluntarily adding a new risk to the policy, the insurer is free to rate for that risk by doing the following:

  • running motor vehicle records
  • changing vehicle assignments
  • modifying policy discounts

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When does your insurance provider check your record?

Policyholders who don’t make changes to their existing plan will have until their next renewal to worry about how their driving record is going to impact their rates.

If you’re convicted of a violation right after you secure coverage and you have an annual policy, you don’t have to start budgeting for a rate hike for nearly a year.

Typically, providers have a protocol in place where they will run motor vehicle reports on each driver on the policy every time the policy renews.

Since it takes some time to reassess everything and insurers must send the new documents 30 days before the renewal, the reports are typically ordered about 45 days before the policy expires.

Once the report is ordered, the auto insurance company can change risk pools and discounts accordingly.

Every time an insurance agent runs a motor vehicle report the carrier must pay a fee. If you’re running thousands of records every day to renew policies, you’re paying thousands of dollars in fees even when the fee is just a few dollars.

It is a cost of doing business because it’s a necessary expense, but that doesn’t mean that carriers don’t look for a way to cut operational costs.

Do providers check your record at every renewal?

When you first apply for coverage, the auto insurance provider will be committed to running your driving records every year. You will have to prove that you’re a good risk and a safe driver by not getting citations over the years.

When you’re an experienced driver and you have a clean record over time, the insurer could decide to order your records every other year instead of paying the fee each year.

It’s best that you know what will be found on your driving records before ever applying for coverage. If you’re not sure what’s on the report, run your own driving abstract to find out.

Once you’re armed with this information, use our online rate comparison tool to start getting quotes. With your instant quotes, you’ll be able to find a competitively priced plan.

References:

  1. https://consumer-solutions.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/854
  2. https://www.thebalance.com/what-type-of-driver-risk-are-you-527282
  3. http://www.lexisnexis.com/risk/products/insurance/motor-vehicle-records.aspx
  4. http://budgeting.thenest.com/primary-secondary-driver-insurance-25695.html
  5. https://www.thebalance.com/what-is-a-car-insurance-surcharge-527252
  6. http://www.investopedia.com/terms/i/insurance-risk-class.asp
  7. https://www.thebalance.com/what-is-an-insurance-renewal-527419
  8. http://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/091815/can-your-car-insurance-company-check-your-driving-record.asp
  9. http://uphelp.org/sites/default/files/resources/boggs-conditional-renewal-rules-by-state.pdf